Archbishop Agustin Garcia-Gasco of Valencia, Spain, said this week it is unacceptable to use a class to indoctrinate students with the government’s agenda, as is the case with the administration of President Jose Luis Rodriguez Zapatero and the “Education for Citizenship” class, thus aiming “to turn the State into a feudal lord that dictates how its subjects will live, according to its own whims.”
The archbishop said there were serious questions about the true purpose of the Education for Citizenship class. “The intention of promoting a class in order to attain a citizenry in line with the ideological premises of the government cannot be sustained in a state governed by the rule of law, and thus it should be rejected outright,” he said in his weekly pastoral letter.
Archbishop Garcia-Gasco noted that collaboration between the school and parents is very important for the formation of children and that therefore no education reform will be successful if it is not in keeping with this principle.
Education truly advances when the convictions that bring meaning to peoples’ lives are strengthened, and thus a “false neutrality” has no place in education, he said, since “discovering the true values of life, cultivating authentic virtues, is a task much too important to leave God out.”
Parents have a right as the first educators of their children that “can never be subjected to the priorities of any government,” the archbishop continued. “While governments are democratically elected at the polls, they are not granted absolute rights over the consciences of parents and all citizens,” he added.
Thus, the archbishop warned, the state cannot present itself as “a feudal lord seeking to intervene in the lives of his subjects according to his own whims.” In a 21st century democratic country, rights must be exercised before the courts and before society, he went on, “such as the right to conscientious objection, which some political groups and commentators want to abolish when it comes to Christians.”
Archbishop Garcia-Gasco noted that current Spanish law is an affront to certain values and aspects of Christian doctrine that are non-negotiable, such as the right to life and the dignity of embryos and the unborn, the value of true marriage between a man and a woman, the role of parents in education and the transcendence of man.
“The task of the Church is to remind people that men and women are made in the image of God and are superior to material things. Relativist materialism entails the degradation of human dignity, and the responsibility of parents in the education of their children can lead them to refuse to accept a class that may be portrayed as recommendable, but whose ultimate intentions are not as clear as some claim,” the archbishop said.