This is a translation of the speech made in the ecumenical council Nov. 17 by Francis Cardinal Spellman of New York on the education schema.
In accord with the purpose of this schema as is noted in the proemium itself, namely, to set forth “certain fundamental principles” on Christian education, we wish to say how excellently the commission has attained this purpose.
I propose one verbal emendation so that the intention of the council may be more clearly apparent from the text.
The direct intention of the schema is to affirm the rights of children and their parents, not necessarily to seek money from the public treasury for religious schools. In many nations, for historic, sociological and political reasons, the question of the support of schools is a difficult and complicated one. Therefore, I propose the following emendation to be added to paragraph four on page 12 of the declaratio:
“Parents should be free to choose the schools they wish for their children. They should not in consequence of their choice be subject to unjust economic burdens which would infringe upon this freedom of choice. Since it is the function of the state to facilitate civil freedoms, justice and equity demand that a due measure of public aid be available to parents in support of the schools they select for their children.
“Moreover, if these schools serve the public purpose of popular education, the fact that they may be religious in their orientation should not exclude them from a rightful measure of public support.”
I propose this emendation so that the intention of the council may be more clearly apparent, and accordingly I hope that useless quarrels over the words of the schema may be avoided in the future.
There remains, however, a more fundamental question. Is it possible really that this council or some post-conciliar commission or a Commission for the Revision of the Code of Canon Law could recommend norms which will apply the fundamental principles to all the actual problems of Catholic schools and Christian education?
In my opinion, considering the variety of schools from place to place with a consequent diversity of problems, no commission can decide all the particular norms for the whole world or give definitive answers to the schools of all nations and their problems.
Therefore, I commend the commission warmly for proposing a practical solution in the proemium, namely, the establishing of a special post-conciliar commission to study further the intricate problems of Christian education. This commission must not only have representation from the major areas of the world, but as well have truly expert members from all phases of education and include laymen along with priests and Religious men and women. I commend the suggestion, also, that the practical application of these general principles be placed in the hands of the conferences of bishops around the world in accord with the instructions of the Holy See.
Therefore, this declaration, with some changes in expression, merits in my opinion a vote of placet [approval].