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At the start of the 2022-2023 school year, many families no doubt need to be cheered up. A small book by Father Eugène Roquette, /The school at home, a divine institution/ (bringing together texts initially published between 1875 and 1880, will surely contribute powerfully to this.
Indeed, is “schooling in the family” only “a mode of implementation of compulsory education”, not necessary and repealed without attacking “freedom of education”? This is how the Constitutional Council of the Fifth Republic judged it… While the Church – like Abbé Roquette – has always seen in it only an inalienable right of parents, authors of their children.
As might be expected, the government preferred to avoid a frontal prohibition of the “IEF”, going for a de facto prohibition, faster and more effective, by administrative means. What is rarely known is that Hitler had not proceeded very differently, article 2 of his Schulplicht of July 1938 providing: “The educational obligation is fulfilled by attending a German school in the Reich. The school supervisory authority decides on exceptions” (emphasis added). But there is no need for reductio ad Hitlerum to attack these recent measures.
Without prejudging the final judgments which will set a precedent in a few months, the summary proceedings issued this summer by the administrative courts are mostly negative. Apart from a few judges less imbued with juspositivism, the tendency that emerges is to leave to academies and rectorates the responsibility of interpreting the letter of the law and judging the “specific situation” of the child.
In this complete oblivion of natural law and the inviolable prerogatives of parents, an oblivion whose consequences affect other areas, one cannot drink too much from surer sources than the National Assembly and the Élysée…
One will find for example the encyclical Casticonnubii of December 1930, where Pope Pius XI recalled:
“The good of the child certainly does not end with the benefit of procreation; there must be added another, contained in the good education of the child. God, in spite of all his wisdom, would certainly have poorly provided for the fate of children and of the whole human race, if those who received from him the power and the right to beget had not also received the right and the responsibility to do so. education. No one fails to recognize, in fact, that the child cannot be self-sufficient in things that relate to natural life: with all the more reason can he not be self-sufficient in things that relate to supernatural life. : for many years, he will need the help of others, instruction, education. It is, moreover, evident that, in conformity with the requirements of nature and the divine order, this right and this task belong first of all to those who have begun the work of nature by generation and to whom it is absolutely It is forbidden to leave the work undertaken unfinished and thus to expose the child to certain loss. Now, provision has been made, in the best possible way, for this so necessary education of children, by marriage where, united by an indissoluble bond, the parents are always in a position to apply themselves to it together and to lend each other a mutual support. »
The previous year, the same sovereign pontiff had signed the encyclical Divini illius magistri (December 1929) on Christian education. It read thus:
“The family therefore immediately receives from the Creator the mission and consequently the right to educate a child, an inalienable right because it is inseparably linked to the strict correlative duty, a right prior to any right of civil society and State, therefore inviolable by any earthly power whatsoever. »
Saint Thomas Aquinas also said in his Summa Theologica (IIa-IIæ, q. 10, art. 12):
“It would therefore go against natural justice if the child, before the use of reason, were removed from the care of its parents or if it were disposed of in any way against their will. And Pius XI adds: “And since the parents have the obligation to give their care to the child until he is able to support himself, it must be admitted that they retain the same inviolable right to his education. »
Forty years earlier, Pope Leo XIII remonstrated with parents in his encyclical Sapientiæ christianæ of January 10, 1890:
“Parents must therefore employ all their strength and persevering energy to repel any kind of injustice in this order of things, to have their right to bring up their children Christianly recognized, in an absolute manner, as it is their duty, and above all the right to refuse them to these schools in which there is danger that they will drink the disastrous poison of impiety. »
Quotations from these and other popes could be multiplied; the list is long. They invite parents to take absolutely every possible means to exercise their most obvious right. It is in this order of ideas that the seven chapters of The school at home, a divine institution are inscribed.
The family is the first school in history, and the only one directly created by God. Education is only a “second creation”: it is the continuity of procreation. Being the authors of their children, the parents are their legitimate authority.
These reminders of common sense will also show us that any alleged freedom of instruction, education and teaching is futile if a principle as important as that carried by the “IEF” comes to be destroyed. We can therefore only congratulate the actors of the Free School (today we would rather say: “of the world of the non-contract”) who saw it well and defended education in the family; and on the contrary to deplore that far too many have acted as if nothing had happened, contenting themselves with making earthly treasures of less and less “free” schools, not noticing the trap that is set for all French families .