May 14, 2012

Papal Delegation Says Homeschoolers Must be Free

Francis A. Chullikatt: States are called to have respect for the freedom of parents.
Francis A. Chullikatt: “States are called to have respect for the freedom of parents.”

Michael Farris: The Vatican's statement is an important addition to our work to protect parental rights.
Michael Farris: “The Vatican’s statement is an important addition to our work to protect parental rights.”

The Holy See mission to the United Nations assembly in New York called upon UN member states to respect the right of parents to homeschool their children in a statement before the United Nations two weeks ago.

“Parents … have the right and duty to choose schools inclusive of homeschooling, and they must possess the freedom to do so, which in turn, must be respected and facilitated by the state,” said His Excellency, The Most Reverend Francis A. Chullikatt, permanent observer of the Holy See to the United Nations.

Chullikatt noted, “For some time now, my delegation has noticed a disconcerting trend, namely, the desire on the part of some to downplay the role of parents in the upbringing of their children, as if to suggest somehow that it is not the role of parents, but that of the state.”

Speaking on behalf of Pope Benedict XVI at the Economic and Social Council on April 24, the official statement of the Holy See strongly affirms international law on the subject.

“States are called to have respect for the freedom of parents,” Chullikatt stated, “to choose for their children schools, other than those established by the public authorities, to ensure the religious and moral education of their children in conformity with their own convictions which equally applies to their right to make judgments on moral issues regarding their children (cf., e.g., UDHR, Article 26, 3, ICESCR, Article 13, 3).”

Michael Farris, founder of Home School Legal Defense Association and president of ParentalRights.org, expressed support for the Holy See’s statement.

“This is an important and welcome announcement. We are pleased with the Vatican’s recognition of the human rights principles involved in these issues,” said Farris. “Education plays a vital role in achieving these goals and parents’ rights must be protected—the Vatican’s statement is an important addition to our work to protect parental rights.”

Michael Donnelly, director of international relations at HSLDA, says that the statement by the papal delegation comes at a crucial time for homeschooling families.

“States such as Germany, Sweden, and Brazil have turned a blind eye to international documents that explicitly state parents have a prior right to determine the form of education their children receive,” Donnelly said. “Families in these countries are facing increasing persecution in the form of fines and threats against child custody. Many families have fled countries as a result of this persecution, and we are glad to have the Vatican’s support of home education as a human right.”