Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Homeschool Group Rejects Guidelines

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Homeschool Group Rejects Guidelines

Article excerpt

Guidelines issued recently by the Chicago archdiocese affirm parents' rights to provide catechesis and sacramental preparation for their children at home, but tie the process closely to the discretion of the local pastor. The three-page statement has already been rejected outright by one Chicago-based homeschool organization as intrusive and unnecessary.

"Thank you for your help, your initiative, but no thank you," said Catherine Moran, president of Catholic Home-school Network of America, a group formed to "safeguard the rights" of Catholic homeschoolers.

A set of guidelines published in August by the Pittsburgh, Pa., diocese contains the same provisions as the Chicago policy. But Pittsburgh's more broadly developed, 18-page pastoral document clothes the policy in rhetorically softer language, "encouraging" and "inviting" home-schoolers to join in parish programs, making allowances where resistance or difficulty was anticipated.

"The authority of parents and pastors has sometimes come into conflict because of the wide variety of readings of current diocesan policies for sacramental preparation," says the Pittsburgh document, "Faith Education in the Home."

"Homeschooling families should not be unduly burdened in sacramental years," says the document. "In general, if they are providing their children regular and thorough catechesis, they should not be required to attend additional parish religious education classes."

The Chicago policy guidelines, issued June 20, were developed by the Office of Religious Education in wide consultation that included some homeschooling parents. They affirm the role of parents as primary educators, but call both parents and pastors to a process of cooperation and dialogue toward the common goal of catechesis within the parish community.

The policy says that parents may, "in extraordinary cases, choose to provide formal, systematic catechesis for their children at home, apart from parish programs. …

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