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“Ask a Priest: Could My Kids Take a Catholic Bible to a Nondenominational School?”
Q: We will be moving to a part of the country where there are no Catholic high schools or middle schools. There is also no Catholic home-school group locally. I am too afraid to send my child to a public school in this day and age. If I send my child to a Christian school, does he/she have the right to have his/her own Catholic Bible? Are you aware of any laws that state that a Catholic has a right to his/her own Bible if the school were to disagree? Bible study is an integral part of the nondenominational Christian schools there. Please pray for us during this difficult move. – K.M.
Answered by Fr. Edward McIlmail, LC
A: It’s good that you are concerned about raising your children in the faith. It’s good to remember, too, that parents are the primary educators of their children. So the task of educating the youngsters in the faith cannot be left totally to any school (even Catholic ones).
From what you describe, you might revisit the issue of homeschooling. Perhaps there is a way you could do some of it yourself. You might try browsing the Internet for ideas.
As for the question about Catholic Bibles: Perhaps this won’t even be an issue. So don’t worry about it for the moment. (For the record, I’m not sure whether the state would intervene to tell a private Christian school to allow Catholic Bibles. That’s not the kind of fight most states want to get involved in.)
That said, you wouldn’t want to relax even if your children were allowed to take their own Catholic Bibles to a nondenominational Christian school.
The school would likely have its own peculiar interpretations of Scripture that oppose the Catholic faith.
For instance, the school won’t teach that Jesus really is giving his Body and Blood in the Eucharist at the last supper. Nor will the school recognize the papacy; hence it won’t give a Catholic interpretation of Peter’s role as head of the apostles.
On top of that, the school might not recognize Sacred Tradition (the oral transmission of the teachings of Christ and the apostles) as a genuine source of Revelation, as Catholics do. And of course, the Protestant Bibles won’t recognize the seven deuterocanonical books that Catholic ones do.
What all this means is that you will need to supplement what your kids hear at school. Are you prepared to do that?
Whatever lies ahead, just be aware that you will need to engage your children in dialogue about the faith constantly. And count on my prayers.
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