.- Bishop Vicente Jimenez of Santander, Spain has issued a pastoral letter calling on parents to enroll their children in Catholic religion classes.
The right to educate their children “according to their own convictions” is a “fundamental parental right” recognized by the Spanish Constitution, said the bishop.
Classes in Catholic religion and morality provide a benchmark for understanding human existence in light of the Christian faith, the bishop stressed.
The Church teaches by responding to “the problems and deepest questions of students, while at the same time laying the foundation and giving reasons for the loftiest of values, such as love, justice, freedom and forgiveness,” he continued.
Bishop Jimenez said his message was aimed particularly at Christian teachers, but also “at all those teachers who, although they do not confess our faith, nevertheless value the good that it promotes and contributes to the comprehensive formation of students.”
He expressed his trust that school administrators “will apply the corresponding legislation” to the area of Catholic religion and morality so that parents and students “can exercise this fundamental right.”
He also urged students to “regard religious teaching as essential for their personal, intellectual, social, and above all, spiritual growth.”
“The Lord gives young people reasons for believing, hoping and loving, and his presence in your growth is the best gift you will find in your lives,” he told them.
“The heart” of religion classes is Jesus Christ, he said, “who is a continual example of life, love and hope with his words, works and his very person.”
Jesus Christ is “not only an example,” the bishop said. “He is also strength for students in time of weakness; mercy and forgiveness in times of sin; love and understanding in times of loneliness; and above all, he is a gift, as he gives us his Life so that we might have eternal life.”