Parents as primary educators

As man is a rational animal, education is in a sense the foremost of human activities: bringing man to his perfection as a creature under God’s grace. Also, as grace perfects and does not destroy human nature, the Church seeks to do justice to man’s nature: readying it for the reception of those truths which go beyond reason and which are necessary for the reform of the sinner and for the worthy upbringing of an adopted child of God. The teaching of the Church identifies three authorities with different levels of responsibility for education: the state, the family and the Church herself. Of these three, the state has the least authority and the fewest responsibilities. The family has priority in the natural order and Church has priority in the supernatural order (but often working as and through the family, which is the “domestic church”). These truths have been under greater and greater challenge since the “reformation” of the sixteenth century, and even more so since the eighteenth century “enlightenment” and the revolutions which have followed down to the present day. The state claims the whole person and demands that the child be surrendered into its custody always in theory and often in fact. This course will explore the authentic Catholic teaching concerning the right and duty to educate, to whom that right belongs and how to refute the errors of our day and rebut the claims of the modern state to ownership over our children.


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Pope Pius XI, encyclical Divini illius magistri (1929)

About Instructor

Dr Alan Fimister

Dr Alan Fimister is Assistant Professor of Dogmatic Theology at Holy Apostles College and Seminary in Connecticut and Director of the Dialogos Institute. He studied at Oxford University (1994–1999), where he was senior scholar in theology at Exeter College and president of the Oxford University Newman Society.

He also studied at the International Theological Institute in Austria (2000–2002), before doing his PhD and teaching at the University of Aberdeen (2002–2007), after which he returned to teach at the International Theological Institute.

Dr Fimister has also taught for the Franciscan University of Steubenville, the University of Mary, Saint John Vianney Theological Seminary and the Augustine Institute.

He has written for the Spectator, the Catholic Herald, LifeSiteNews, the National Catholic Register and the Daily Caller. He published Robert Schuman: Neo-Scholastic Humanism and the Reunification of Europe (2008) and Integralism: A Manual of Politics Philosophy (2020) with Fr Thomas Crean OP.

He is a native of Newcastle upon Tyne and now lives in the US with his wife Colleen and their three children.