THE Catholic school system all over this land has been erected and

stands dedicated to the principle that no child can be properly,

thoroughly and profitably--for itself--educated, whose soul is not fed

with religion and morality while its intelligence is being stocked with

learning and knowledge. It is intended, and made, to avoid the two

defects under which our public school system labors--the one

accidental, the oth
r fundamental--namely, extravagance and

godlessness. The child is taught the things that are necessary for it

to know; catechism and religion take the place of fads and costly


The Catholic school does not lay claim to superiority over another on

purely secular lines, although in many cases its superiority is a very

patent fact; it repudiates and denies charges to the effect that it is

inferior, although this may be found in some cases to be true. It

contends that it is equal to, as good as, any other; and there is no

evidence why this should not be so. But it does pretend to give a more

thorough education in the true sense of the word, if education really

means a bringing out of that which is best in our nature.

Neither do we hold that such a training as our schools provide will

assure the faith and salvation of the children confided to our care.

Neither church, nor religion, nor prayer, nor grace, nor God Himself

will do this alone. The child's fidelity to God and its ultimate reward

depends on that child's efforts and will, which nothing can supply. But

what we do guarantee is that the child will be furnished with what is

necessary to keep the faith and save its soul, that there will be no

one to blame but itself if it fails, and that such security it will not

find outside the Catholic school. It is for just such work that the

school is equipped, that is the only reason for its existence, and we

are not by any means prepared to confess that our system is a failure

in that feature which is its essential one.

That every Catholic child has an inherent right to such a training, it

is not for one moment permitted to doubt; there is nothing outside the

very bread that keeps its body and soul together to which it has a

better right. Intellectual training is a very secondary matter when the

immortal soul is concerned. And if the child has this right, there is a

corresponding duty in the parent to provide it with such; and since

that right is inalienable, that duty is of the gravest. Hence it

follows that parents who neglect the opportunity they enjoy of

providing their offspring with a sound religious and moral training in

youth, and expose them, unprepared, to the attacks, covert and open, of

modern indifferentism, while pursuing secular studies, display a woeful

ignorance of their obligations and responsibilities.

This natural right of the child to a religious education, and the

authority of the Church which speaks in no uncertain accents on the

subject go to make a general law that imposes a moral obligation upon

parents to send their children to Catholic schools. Parents who fail in

this simply do wrong, and in many cases cannot be excused from mortal

offending. And it requires, according to the general opinion, a very

serious reason to justify non-compliance with this law.

Exaggeration, of course, never serves any purpose; but when we consider

the personal rights of children to have their spiritual life well

nurtured, and the general evils against which this system of education

has been judged necessary to make the Church secure, it will be easily

seen that there is little fear of over-estimating the importance of the

question and the gravity of the obligations under which parents are


Moreover, disregard for this general law on the part of parents

involves contempt of authority, which contempt, by reason of its being

public, cannot escape the malice of scandal. Even when the early

religious education of the child is safeguarded by excellent home

training and example and no evil effects of purely secular education

are to be feared, the fact of open resistance to the direction of

Church authority is an evil in itself; and may be the cause of leading

others in the same path of revolt--others who have not like

circumstances in their favor.

About the only person I know who might be justified in not sending his

children to Catholic schools is the "crank," that creature of mulish

propensities, who balks and kicks and will not be persuaded to move by

any method of reasoning so far discovered. He usually knows all that is

to be learned on the school question--which is a lie; and having

compared the parochial and the public school systems in an intelligent

and disinterested manner--which is another--he finds that the Catholic

school is not the place for his children. If his children are like

himself, his conclusion is wisely formed, albeit drawn from false

premises. In him, three things are on a par; his conceit, his ignorance

and his determination. From these three ingredients results a high

quality of asininity which in moral theology is called invincible

ignorance and is said to render one immune in matters of sin. May his

tribe decrease!