Earlier this week I spoke with Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski at an Acton Institute-sponsored event at Rome's Pontifical Antonianum University. The "State Financing of Catholic Schools" conference asked whether, as an extension of the recognized right to education in accord with conscience, governments were obliged to make alternative religious schools accessible to parents who can't afford tuition.
A related question is that of government restrictions on religious school instruction. While such strings are normally attached to public funding, they can also also be imposed as a condition for private school accreditation. In September 2009, schools throughout Quebec were required to replace their "Moral Education", "Catholic Religious and Moral Instruction", and "Protestant Moral and Religious Education" courses with one curriculum called "Ethics and Religious Culture". Cardinal Grocholewski, Prefect of the Congregation of Catholic Education, echoed the concerns of many parents and some critical bishops:
Dmytrenko: In Canada, in the province of Quebec, Catholic and Protestant classes in religion have been taken away and all that remains is one course that teaches all religions and secular ethics to students. In the view of the Catholic Church, is this a violation of parents' rights?
Cardinal Grocholewski: This is the denial of the right of the parents. Because talking about all the religions violates the right of the parents to educate their own children according to their own religion. Secondly, talking in the same way about all the religions, it is almost like an anti-Catholic education—anti-Catholic because this creates a certain relativism. Relativism—all the religions are the same and you can choose one of them like a story. So this is not an education, but anti-religious...very often anti-religious.
Watch more of the my interview with Cardinal Grocholewski in today's report
by H2Onews. For more background, watch the Catholic Focus episode "Resisting the Curriculum", which originally aired October 15th and is streaming online
. Read the position statement of of the Assembly of Quebec Catholic Bishops here