Appeared in Spring 1990, Vol. XVI, No. 1

In the ongoing debate concerning government aid to private education there has seldom been a “canonical perspective” on this important issue. This fine essay by Mr. Peters examines the question as it pertains to the obligation of Catholics as found in the Church’s new code of canon law.

It is axiomatic in sound Catholic social thought that Catholics qua citizens should make appropriate use of the social and political means by which the rights of the Church and its faithful can be better secured. In the American political context, furthermore, it is widely recognized that one of the most contested Church-state matters deals with governmental aid to religiously-sponsored education. It is not surprising, of course, that educational matters, particularly parental rights to educational assistance, should be so widely debated. The many issues surrounding the education of youth touch upon the very core of family identity and social well-being. But it is not the purpose of this study to examine the civil arguments which Catholics qua citizens can offer on behalf of governmental aid to private education, nor even to examine the nature and degree of their obligation as citizens to make such arguments. Rather, this inquiry seeks to investigate whether Catholics qua Catholics have an ecclesial, specifically, a canonical, obligation to engage in legitimate secular efforts to secure governmental assistance for religiously affiliated education.

To continue reading, download the PDF here.