To Ignore Religion in Education Is "Error of Perspective," Pope Says

John Paul II Visits Public University Near Rome

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VATICAN CITY, JAN. 31, 2002 ( To ignore the contribution of religion in education is an «error of perspective» and a «poor service to the truth about man,» John Paul II said today when he visited a public university on the outskirts of Rome.

«Suffice it to look at history with objective eyes to realize how important religion has been in the formation of cultures, and how it has suffused with its influence the whole of the human habitat,» the Pontiff said, in an address to hundreds of students and professors gathered in the great hall of University Rome 3.

«To ignore this or to deny it is not only an error of perspective, but also a poor service to the truth about man,» the Holy Father added.

His visit helped mark the 10th anniversary of the university. In 1992, University Rome 3 had 7,000 students. Today it has 31,000.

«Why be afraid to open learning to the culture of faith?» the Pope asked his listeners, among whom was Letizia Moratti, the Italian government´s Minister of Education.

«From this osmosis [of faith and culture], has not, perhaps, that humanism emerged of which our Europe is so justifiably proud, which today seeks new cultural and economic goals?» the Holy Father continued.

On Jan. 10, John Paul II also described as an «error of perspective» the European Union´s rejection of the contribution of communities of believers to the European Convention, which will articulate the future Constitution of the Continent.

On behalf of the Catholic Church, the Pope expressed «the desire to begin a dialogue, which is inspired only by the love of truth and, engaged in with opportune prudence, without excluding anyone — not even those who cultivate the fine goods of the human spirit but still do not recognize the Author of them all, nor those who are opposed to the Church.»

The Pontiff concluded by saying that the Day of Prayer for Peace in Assisi, held Jan. 24, showed «how the authentic religious spirit promotes a sincere dialogue that opens spirits to reciprocal comprehension and understanding in the service of man´s cause.»

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