In September 2018, Bishop Richard issued his first pastoral plan for the Diocese, called 'The Word Who is Life'. In this Bishop Richard says: “The School is, for many young Catholics, their most significant experience of the Church’s life. Schools are, therefore, a key element in the life of the Diocese, to which much weight is given in Canon Law and at national level, through the work of the Catholic Education Service (CES). At diocesan level, both the Bishop and Trustees are fully committed to ensuring the best possible school provision.”
In the updated version of the plan, published in 2022, Bishop Richard says: “Schools are a key element in the life and mission of the Diocese. The Catholic school is marked by its ethos, which must always be an expression of the Gospel.” (The Word Who Is Life 2022)
Schools are provided by the Trustees for the purposes set out in their governing documents, including the Diocesan Trust Deed. The aim of the Trust Deed is to provide the advancement of the Roman Catholic religion and education within the Diocese of Arundel & Brighton and beyond. The provisions of Canon Law form part of the Diocesan Trust Deed. Under charity and education law, schools (academies and voluntary aided schools) are regulated by the Trust Deed and their governing documents must reflect those requirements. Catholic education is governed extensively by the Code of Canon Law (the chief legislative document of the Catholic Church). The Code of Canon Law faithfully reflects the teaching of the Second Vatican Council and, in particular, the Declaration on Christian Education, Gravissimum Educationis. In relation to Catholic education, there are two sets of rights and duties that come together in the Code of Canon Law: (a) on the part of parents, their right and obligation to give a Catholic education to their children (for example in canons 793-795); and (b) on the part of the Church, her right and obligation to offer parents the help needed to carry out this task of theirs (for example canons 796-806). These canons are detailed below:
Can. 793 §1 Parents, and those who take their place, have both the obligation and the right to educate their children. Catholic parents have also the duty and the right to choose those means and institutes which, in their local circumstances, can best promote the catholic education of their children.
§2 Parents have moreover the right to avail themselves of that assistance from civil society which they need to provide a catholic education for their children.
Can. 794 §1 The Church has in a special way the duty and the right of educating, for it has a divine mission of helping all to arrive at the fullness of Christian life.
§2 Pastors of souls have the duty of making all possible arrangements so that all the faithful may avail themselves of a catholic education. Can. 795 Education must pay regard to the formation of the whole person, so that all may attain their eternal destiny and at the same time promote the common good of society. Children and young persons are therefore to be cared for in such a way that their physical, moral and intellectual talents may develop in a harmonious manner, so that they may attain a greater sense of responsibility and a right use of freedom, and be formed to take an active part in social life.
Can. 796 §1. Among the means to foster education, the Christian faithful are to hold schools in esteem; schools are the principal assistance to parents in fulfilling the function of education.
§2. Parents must cooperate closely with the teachers of the schools to which they entrust their children to be educated; moreover, teachers in fulfilling their duty are to collaborate very closely with parents, who are to be heard willingly and for whom associations or meetings are to be established and highly esteemed.
Can. 797. Parents must possess a true freedom in choosing schools; therefore, the Christian faithful must be concerned that civil society recognizes this freedom for parents and even supports it with subsidies; distributive justice is to be observed.
Can. 798. Parents are to entrust their children to those schools which provide a Catholic education. I6 they are unable to do this, they are obliged to take care that suitable Catholic education is provided for their children outside the schools.
Can. 799. The Christian faithful are to strive so that in civil society the laws which regulate the formation of youth also provide for their religious and moral education in the schools themselves, according to the conscience of the parents.
Can. 800 §1. The Church has the right to establish and direct schools of any discipline, type, and level.
§2. The Christian faithful are to foster Catholic schools, assisting in their establishment and maintenance according to their means.
Can. 801. Religious institutes whose proper mission is education, retaining their mission faithfully, are also to strive to devote themselves to Catholic education through their schools, established with the consent of the diocesan bishop.
Can. 802 §1. If schools which offer an education imbued with a Christian spirit are not available, it is for the diocesan bishop to take care that they are established.
§2. Where it is expedient, the diocesan bishop is to make provision for the establishment of professional schools, technical schools, and other schools required by special needs.
Can. 803 §1. A Catholic school is understood as one which a competent ecclesiastical authority or a public ecclesiastical juridic person directs or which ecclesiastical authority recognizes as such through a written document.
§2. The instruction and education in a Catholic school must be grounded in the principles of Catholic doctrine; teachers are to be outstanding in correct doctrine and integrity of life.
§3. Even if it is in fact Catholic, no school is to bear the name Catholic school without the consent of competent ecclesiastical authority.
Can. 804 §1. The Catholic religious instruction and education which are imparted in any schools whatsoever or are provided through the various instruments of social communication are subject to the authority of the Church. It is for the conference of bishops to issue general norms about this field of action and for the diocesan bishop to regulate and watch over it.
§2. The local ordinary is to be concerned that those who are designated teachers of religious instruction in schools, even in non-Catholic ones, are outstanding in correct doctrine, the witness of a Christian life, and teaching skill.
Can. 805. For his own diocese, the local ordinary has the right to appoint or approve teachers of religion and even to remove them or demand that they be removed if a reason of religion or morals requires it.
Can. 806 §1. The diocesan bishop has the right to watch over and visit the Catholic schools in his territory, even those which members of religious institutes have founded or direct. He also issues prescripts which pertain to the general regulation of Catholic schools; these prescripts are valid also for schools which these religious direct, without prejudice, however, to their autonomy regarding the internal direction of their schools.
§2. Directors of Catholic schools are to take care under the watchfulness of the local ordinary that the instruction which is given in them is at least as academically distinguished as that in the other schools of the area.
We are all called to be good stewards and to safeguard Catholic education for the future. The Diocesan Protocols below set out the principles which govern the committed working relationship which must exist between the Diocese and those responsible for running Catholic Schools. Compliance with these Diocesan Protocols ensures the effective running of Catholic Schools on behalf of the diocesan Bishop for the benefit of pupils, parents, staff, and the wider parish community. Compliance with these Protocols also contribute to ensuring the future of Catholic education for future generations.