Pope Francis said Friday parents have the right to determine how their child is educated, and their children should not be subjected to thinly veiled indoctrination.
In a meeting with members of the International Catholic Child Bureau at the Vatican, Francis said he wonders sometimes whether parents are sending their children “to school or to a re-education camp,” as in countries run by dictators, reports Catholic News Service. Parents should not be subject to thinly veiled courses of indoctrination into whatever ideology is currently popular, he said, and they have a right to control the moral and religious education of their children.
Francis also said it’s important to defend a child’s right to a mother and father “able to create a healthy environment for their growth and maturity.” Contemporary culture and the media pose difficult challenges, he said, and children need to be given values they can use to discern which cultural trends respect dignity and freedom for them and others.
The remarks were part of a larger conversation about the role of the church in recent sex scandals. The church is committed to punishing offenders and supporting abuse victims, and should give monetary settlements to victims, Francis said.
“I feel called to take responsibility for all the evil some priests — large in number, but not in proportion to the total — have committed, and to ask forgiveness for the damage they’ve done with the sexual abuse of children,” Francis said.