Roman Catholic Child Indoctrination

Roman Catholic Child Indoctrination

Question: Some people say children should be left to make up their own minds about religion. Do you agree?

Rev. GEOFFREY KERSLAKE is a priest of the Roman Catholic archdiocese of Ottawa.

I have heard parents say that they do not practise any faith with their children in order to avoid influencing their decision later in adult life about which religious beliefs to hold. The problem with this approach is that children who have no exposure to any religious beliefs growing up lack even a framework to begin investigating different faiths.

Furthermore, rather than avoiding prejudicing their children towards or against a specific religion, parents are sending a message to their children that all religions are equally unworthy of their attention. In effect, they are influencing their children towards having no faith.

Before we can make a choice about what religion, if any, we wish to adhere to, we need a context out of which to make an informed decision.

The Catholic Church vigorously championed the basic human right to freedom of religion at the Second Vatican Council that the human person has a right to religious freedom. This freedom means that all men are to be immune from coercion on the part of individuals or of social groups and of any human power, in such wise that no one is to be forced to act in a manner contrary to his own beliefs, whether privately or publicly, whether alone or in association with others, within due limits.” (Declaration on Religious Freedom, n. 2)

Adult Catholic parents have a responsibility to do their best to bring their children up in the practice of their Catholic Christian faith which is made clear to them when they marry in the Catholic Church. However, we all must respect the basic right to choose our own faith practices when we are mature enough to make that decision for ourselves.

Religious Opinion

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