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Editorial

Kicking the ladder out from behind

Catholic Social Teaching may be summarised under 9 principles.

The 9 principles to promote the dignbity of the human person, are:

  • the common good
  • solidarity
  • subsidiarity
  • the purpose of the social order
  • the purpose of government
  • participation
  • the universal purpose of goods
  • the option for the poor
  • the care of creation. Can anyone think of any way in which any of these principles may be undermined if education were to be universally funded under one system?

    If all people have the right and responsibility to participate in building their society, as the Catholic Social Justice Teaching instructs, then they need the same access to education as has every other person in society.

    The mantra of choice is simply deceitful. By all means let there be choice; but from this ought not to follow the notion that separate funding systems are called for.

    Catholics in Australia should be aware that they support a two tiered secondary education funding system that now exists nowhere else in the world. Our system promotes division and inequity, and sucks out resources from the many to give to the few.

    There is nothing Catholic about this.

    Pope John XXIII in Pacem in Terris, writes: 'The human individual, far from being an object, and as it were, a merely passive element in the social order, must be and must continue to be, its foundation and its end.'

    Note that his Holiness does not qualify 'the human individual' with the adjective Catholic. Therefore it may be asserted with confidence that John XXIII meant that all human individuals are valuable in the social order. To be consistent with a further teaching, that of solidarity, Catholics should look to the likely educational, social and professional outcomes of the current system for every Australian child, and not simply to their own.

    It is not in the spirit of the origins of Catholic education in Australia for any child to be excluded. But excluded they are, because our secular and sacred leaders play politics with education funding. For the sake of a photo opportunity with the Cardinal, the federal candidates fiddle with the system that no one really intends to change.

    If Catholic parents, or any other parent group, wish to contribute over and above their taxable burden for the improvement of the country's education system and for the benefit of the country's children, that is most laudable.

    But if Catholics are to take their Catholicity seriously they cannot in conscience act to promote the interests of one human individual over another, even that of their own child. To do so would be to imperil the common good. 'Solidarity is not a feeling of vague compassion or shallow distress at the misfortunes of so many people, both near and far," writes Pope John Paul II. "On the contrary, it is a firm and persevering determination to commit oneself to the common good; that is to say, to the good of all and of each individual, because we are all really responsible for all.' (On Social Concern, 1987, #38)

    Some Catholic Schools are increasingly concerned with networks, advantage and charity as largesse rather than justice. That suits politicians of a 'wedge' mentality.

    But it isn't very Catholic. In the end, it isn't very smart, either.

    Kicking the ladder out from under you may just mean the the person under you has something to belt you over the head with.


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