A Catholic education is not one where subjects become appendages to the faith.
It would be wrong to consider subjects as mere adjuncts to faith or as a useful means of teaching apologetics.
The splendor and dignity which the sacred sciences draw from the profane sciences derive from the fact that human nature is more affected by teaching which is pleasingly presented.
It is not one where knowledge of subjects is held captive to doctrinal truth.
This norm of a just freedom in things scientific, serves also as an inviolable norm of a just freedom in things didactic, or for rightly understood liberty in teaching; it should be observed therefore in whatever instruction is imparted to others.
It is not one where methods in general use for subjects are discarded or co-opted.
Individual subjects must be taught according to their own particular methods.
Nor does she (the Church) prevent the sciences, each in its own sphere, from making use of principles and methods of their own. Only while acknowledging the freedom due to them, she takes every precaution to prevent them from falling into error by opposition to divine doctrine, or from overstepping their proper limits, and thus invading and disturbing the domain of Faith.
Why does the Church encourage freedom in approaching natural subjects?
Not only is it impossible for faith and reason to be at variance with each other, they are on the contrary of mutual help. For while right reason establishes the foundations of Faith, and, by the help of its light, develops a knowledge of the things of God, Faith on the other hand frees and preserves reason from error and enriches it with varied knowledge.
The fundamental reason for this harmony is that the supernatural order, to which the Church owes her rights, not only does not in the least destroy the natural order, to which pertain the other rights mentioned, but elevates the natural and perfects it, each affording mutual aid to the other, and completing it in a manner proportioned to its respective nature and dignity.
The school considers human knowledge as a truth to be discovered.... Discovery and awareness of truth leads man to the discovery of Truth itself.
What are the benefits of profane (ie non-sacred) learning for the Christian and for the Church in general?
a Christian education acknowledges the valid contribution which can be made by academic subjects towards the development of a mature Christian.
They (the subjects) enable the pupil to assimilate skills, knowledge, intellectual methods and moral and social attitudes, all of which help to develop his personality and lead him to take his place as an active member of the community of man. Their aim is not merely the attainment of knowledge but the acquisition of values and the discovery of truth.
It (the school) is designed not only to develop with special care the intellectual faculties but also to form the ability to judge rightly, to hand on the cultural legacy of previous generations, to foster a sense of values, to prepare for professional life. Between pupils of different talents and backgrounds it promotes friendly relations and fosters a spirit of mutual understanding; and it establishes as it were a center whose work and progress must be shared together by families, teachers, associations of various types that foster cultural, civic, and religious life, as well as by civil society and the entire human community.
Therefore the Church has a right and duty to get involved in all the branches of learning:
Therefore with full right the Church promotes letters, science, art in so far as necessary or helpful to Christian education, in addition to her work for the salvation of souls: founding and maintaining schools and institutions adapted to every branch of learning and degree of culture. Nor may even physical culture, as it is called, be considered outside the range of her maternal supervision, for the reason that it also is a means which may help or harm Christian education.
How and by whom is the education imparted?
Parents are under a grave obligation to see to the religious and moral education of their children, as well as to their physical and civic training, as far as they can, and moreover to provide for their temporal well-being.Parents may have delegates, who are entrusted to carry out the educative mission where the parents do not think themselves qualified to teach:
A teacher who is full of Christian wisdom, well prepared in his own subject, does more than convey the sense of what he is teaching to his pupils. Over and above what he says, he guides his pupils beyond his mere words to the heart of total Truth.
This (teaching) vocation demands special qualities of mind and heart, very careful preparation, and continuing readiness to renew and to adapt.
In the measure in which subjects are taught by someone who knowingly and without restraint seeks the truth, they are to that extent Christian.
What does proper Christian education do for the individual and by extension for society?
In fact it must never be forgotten that the subject of Christian education is man whole and entire, soul united to body in unity of nature, with all his faculties natural and supernatural, such as right reason and revelation show him to be;...
Catholics, thus fortified and fittingly instructed, will clearly be able to show that the faith, far from being hostile to human culture, constitutes in fact its apex and summit; that even on points where there is seeming opposition or contradiction, it can be so closely harmonized with philosophy that each enlightens the other; that nature is not the enemy but the companion and helper of religion; finally that the inspiration of religion not only enriches all types of knowledge but also gives literature and the other arts new strength and new life.
Discovery and awareness of truth leads man to the discovery of Truth itself.
Some things to be watchful of in promoting learning and culture especially in the secular arena:
And whoever disturbs the pupil's Faith in any way, does him grave wrong, inasmuch as he abuses the trust which children place in their teachers, and takes unfair advantage of their inexperience and of their natural craving for unrestrained liberty, at once illusory and false.
....it is the duty of parents to make every effort to prevent any invasion of their rights in this matter, and to make absolutely sure that the education of their children remain under their own control in keeping with their Christian duty, and above all to refuse to send them to those schools in which there is danger of imbibing the deadly poison of impiety."