How utterly important is education of the youth, formation in truth and holiness.
Yet, the false apostles and false prophets – how they abound today! Everywhere. If they abounded at the dark times of the French Revolution, how much more now.
Yet, we sleep and slumber. Listen, then, to Pius VII urge Bishops to protect the little ones. Note that his concern is not first and foremost the protection of the rights of heretics. What absurdity to put that first, given the guilt of such persons and considering what few rights in the Church remain for Catholic heretics. His concern is also not first and foremost the conversion of heretics. His first and foremost concern, as is right, is the protection of the young from heretics.
How utterly backwards, then, are the standards of of many today. Often, it is heretics’ rights that seem to be of most concern, then their conversion, then the protection of the youth. Perhaps nothing can be done, legally, to make the proper order of concern clear. But it is imprudent to keep the heretic’s rights as foremost.
True charity should be ruled by prudence. And basic wisdom says that the true good of a child is the true faith. Basic wisdom acknowledges that children are being perverted by false doctrines and takes heed, if it loves, to remove such errors and teach truth. Let us first consider the common good and the innocent. That means the good of the whole Church and her members, before the good of particular heretics. That means the young, before those who ought to know better.
13. Would that We had not learned by experience how many “false apostles” the present age has spawned! These are “deceitful workmen who transform themselves into apostles of Christ.” Unless we are on our guard “they will destroy the understanding of the faithful as the serpent seduced Eve by his cleverness, and they will fall away from their simplicity which is in Christ.” While you must care for the whole flock over which the Holy Spirit has placed you as bishop, the watchfulness, eagerness, and effort of your fatherly love and benevolence is demanded in particular by boys and young men. Christ by example and statement has particularly entrusted these to us and the enemies of private property and states who are striving to confound all laws, divine and human, hope to effect their wicked plans chiefly by corrupting their young minds. For they are aware that the young are like soft wax and can easily be drawn in any direction, bent and moulded and that they firmly retain a form once they have received it and it has been hardened by advancing years; then they will reject a different form. Hence the well-worn proverb from scripture: “A young man will not depart from his way even when he has grown old.”