The following are extracts from Bishop Robert Finn's statement for Catholic Schools Week, as published in 'The Catholic Key', diocesan weekly for the Kansas City-St Joseph Diocese, earlier this year.
One of the most important components of the Church's mission is the work of teaching the faith.
From all Scripture it is clear that God reveals himself and therefore he wants to be known. The catechism teaches us that the reason why God made us is so that we may know, love and serve him in this world, so that we may be happy with him for all eternity. Christ came as the full and definitive revelation of the Father's love. He himself taught the truth, and entrusted this work to the Church, promising the Apostles the help of the Holy Spirit.
The Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissimum Educationis, from the Second Vatican Council, affirms the priority of this call to parents, who are the first teachers of their children (No. 3). The Church must assist parents in this responsibility. The Council says that Catholic schools are of 'outstanding importance,' (No. 5) and therefore have a significant role in the Church's work of promoting an authentic human culture and forming young people (No. 8).
I wish to repeat here what I have said at other times and places about our Catholic schools. We depend on these schools to carry forward the very work of the Church. While they are certainly not the only means to teach and form youth, they are without a doubt one of the primary means to do so. They are a vibrant part of the work of the whole Church, and they require the support of the broad Catholic community.
I am thankful for the heritage of our schools. I admire and encourage the sacrifices of parents to send their children to our schools.
Over time, we will also make careful study of the demographics and other data that may indicate the need for additional elementary or secondary schools.
Perhaps most important, we will continue to examine and intensify the Catholic identity of our schools. Our schools have and must always maintain academic excellence and a secure environment for teaching and learning. The passionate determination to make our schools 'unashamedly Catholic' is the unique ingredient that sets us apart, and without which we could never justify the commitment to maintain our own schools.