The Archdiocese of Brisbane asked for submissions to questions relating to the upcoming Synod on the Family in October this year in Rome. A working document (called the “Relatio”) was produced for reflection and questions were formulated in response to this.
There were lots of questions, but this was the one I really wanted to answer.
What more can be done to promote a sense of parenthood as divine vocation?
What more can be done to help parents in their educational mission, especially in transmitting the faith to their children?
This is my answer:
A more thorough dissection of the Church documents surrounding education and passing on the Faith. Namely, FAMILIARIS CONSORTIO and GRAVISSIMUM EDUCATIONIS. Particularly the section in Gravissimum Educationis 3:
“As it is the parents who have given life to their children, on them lies the gravest obligation of educating their family. They must therefore be recognized as being primarily and principally responsible for their education. The role of parents in education is of such importance that it is almost impossible to provide an adequate substitute”.
Effective evangelization of the parents is the key here, for from the parents, Faith is imparted regardless of what any educational academics think. This is essentially a re-evangelization task, with emphasis of the simple proclamation of the Kerygma. Even a basic understanding of the Faith cannot be assumed. We need to start with the basics: proclamation of the incarnation, crucifixion, and resurrection, and the ongoing relationship with a living God.
In the Relatio document, much emphasis has been placed on attending to the needs of parents living in “complex situations”. Approaching those people, and welcoming them is appropriate, but the emphasis should be the breaking of those negative situations that lead to “complexity”, through conversion and the simple knowledge of Christ
This is the starting point. From that point, the focus should move to real catechizing, at all levels of the Church. This means, not being academic and over-theologizing, but remaining close to the simple truths as the Church teaches them. All church “systems” should support this, including the institution of organised Catholic Education. In areas where that is not possible, other forms of education that support the parents should be encouraged. For example, home-schooling or distance education, or hybrids of all these, where the parents can literally be the “primary educators”.