Don’t shun role as your child’s teacher: Archbishop Porteous

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Archbishop Julian Porteous of Hobart participates in a Mass for the Unborn at St Mary’s  Cathedral in Sydney in September. Photo: Giovanni Portelli
Archbishop Julian Porteous of Hobart participates in a Mass for the Unborn at St Mary’s Cathedral in Sydney in September. Photo: Giovanni Portelli

Archbishop Julian Porteous of Hobart has once again spoken out in favour of marriage and family, telling a meeting of parents that they are the first educators of their children – a duty which cannot be outsourced to schools.

The archbishop, who has been accused of discrimination over his distribution through Catholic schools of the Bishops’ Conference booklet Don’t Mess With Marriage, told representatives of the

Tasmanian Parents’ Council on Saturday that marriage is intrinsically linked to parenthood in its twofold purposes of unitivity and openness to life, whether physical conception is possible or not.

“There will always be couples unable to have their own biological children, despite being open to the possibility of new life,” Archbishop Porteous said.

“This is a great sadness for the couple, but it also presents a particular invitation to share their nuptial love through the fostering and/or adoption of children.”

Addressing the present family synod in Rome, Archbishop Porteous noted the “vast numbers of couples who have embraced the Christian understanding of marriage and family and have lived it faithfully and fruitfully”, praising “the many luminous examples of Catholic married life”.

“One of the fundamental purposes for stable and loving marriages is the provision of an environment in which children have the best opportunity in life. There can be no replacement for the stability and love that is experienced in a healthy marriage …

“It is through the family that each of us learns of love. To the extent that the family – the “school of love”, as John Paul II also called it – is dysfunctional, so, too, will be the natural means by which we come to experience and understand love.

“Without that environment in which we experience and practise love, we can never truly understand or be ourselves. Whatever undermines the family, therefore, hurts its members and, indeed, undermines our whole society.”

Families, given their central role in instilling and fostering goodness, are a primary target of the devil, the archbishop said, adding that it is important that parents remember just how essential their vocation is, particularly in schooling their children in love.

“It is important that parents properly understand the nature of this role as first educators and not abrogate this God-given responsibility.

“By choosing to send a child to school one does not hand over their responsibility for the child’s education to teachers.

“Rather, the role of the school is to assist them to fulfil their responsibility as the primary educators of their children.

“It is vital, then, that parents are actively engaged with schools in directing the education of their child.”