This week’s thought for the weekend comes in the wake of the aftermath of the extraordinary synod, the beatification of Pope Paul VI and the first feast day on Wednesday of Pope Saint John Paul II. The last three weeks have been quite an “education” to say the least. Education and formation in Christ’s truth is what the Catholic family and household is all about. Indeed, “the protection of the right of parents to educate their children” is one of the three non-negotiable principles of the Church in public life (I will discuss the others in the future though see the speech to EU parliamentarians in March 2006 by Benedict XVI). The doctrine, indeed infallible dogma (from the perspective of the third commandment) of parents as the first educators, is something that all of us, whether parents or not, must never undermine. Pope Francis put it very forcefully in April this year to the International Catholic Child Bureau (BICE):
“It is necessary to emphasise the right of children to grow up within a family, with a father and a mother able to create a suitable environment for their development and emotional maturity. Continuing to mature in the relationship, in the complementarity of the masculinity and femininity of a father and a mother, and thus preparing the way for emotional maturity. This means, at the same time, supporting parents’ right to moral and religious education for their children. In this regard, I would like to express my refusal of any type of educational experimentation on children. One does not experiment on children and young people. They are not guinea pigs! “
Strong words indeed and for good reason, for when one realises that the family is the primary agent of peace and social cohesion, then anything that disturbs the peace of the moral and spiritual authority and love of parent over child and those who support, it is no advocate, nor harbinger, of real peace in society. As time goes on, I will explore this theme again. It’s what I call the “theology of the kitchen table”….the place where many lessons of life and love are first taught and learned. And the wood of that table is linked to the wood of the Cross.
St John Paul II Pope of the Family pray for parents and grandparents.