It’s one small step for the diocese, but a giant leap for Catholic homeschoolers everywhere. The Catholic Diocese of Pittsburgh has released “Faith Education in the Home: Catholic Homeschooling,” an eighteen-page document on homeschooling in the diocese that offers guidance and support to home-schooling families.
“The Church has long recognized that parents have the primary responsibility for passing on the faith to their children,” wrote Rev. Kris D. Stubna, diocesan secretary for education, in the preface. But some dioceses have punished parents who choose to educate their children themselves, forcing homeschooled children to attend parish CCD classes or be denied participation in First Communion or Confirmation. “People try to make demons out of pastors who do that, but there just wasn’t a model for understanding homeschooling,” says homeschooling parent Mike Aquilina, a member of the group that wrote the document. “The priests were trying to be obedient to their bishops” by restricting the sacraments. “Now they have a model, now they can say, ‘Here is how it is done.’ ”
Aquilina stresses that the Pittsburgh document does not endorse any particular homeschool method or curriculum. “Homeschooling methods are as different as homeschooling families. The only similarity is that we believe in all that the Church teaches. The Church always speaks on all human realities and this is a document of the Church, affirming this human reality.”
A study group of priests, home-schooling parents, and diocesan personnel developed the document after realizing that such a statement did not yet exist. “There was nothing with homeschooling in a positive theological light,” recalls Aquilina.
“Faith Education in the Home” cites Familiaris Consortio and other Church documents to encourage parishes to cooperate with the estimated sixty thousand Catholic families nationwide who teach their children at home.