Address on Need of Transformation of Schools

Before Angelus at Castel Gandolfo

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 22, 2002 ( Here is a translation of the address John Paul II gave before reciting the Angelus today with pilgrims gathered at the papal summer residence.

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Dear Brothers and Sisters!

1. Over these past days, school has begun again in Italy and in many other countries following the summer break. It is an important time for the great majority of children and young people.

At times it is said that the school, like the family, is “in crisis.” This expression is used to refer to the widespread feeling that this institution, recognized in its essential worth, is in need of a profound transformation that will enable it to respond to the present needs of society.

However, it is not enough to modify programs and structures to achieve this objective. A well-functioning school depends, above all, on the constructive quality of the relation between teachers and students. Pupils are motivated to give the best of themselves when teachers help them to perceive the meaning of what they must study, in relation to their growth and the reality that surrounds them. This is true for schools of all kinds and levels, both public and private.

2. On several occasions I have mentioned that culture is the foundation of a people’s identity. The contribution offered by the school, together with the family and in a subordinate way to the latter, continues to be indispensable to transmit the values of culture. The latter has become more articulated and complex but, precisely for this reason — if properly seen — it acquires a new importance, from whence derives a special responsibility for believers who work in this area.

[John Paul II then greeted pilgrims in French, English, German, Spanish, Portuguese, Polish and Italian. He said the following in English:]

Dear English-speaking Brothers and Sisters: May your visit be a time of renewal in faith, hope, and love, that you may be ever more effective witnesses to our Lord and Savior Jesus Christ. Upon all of you, and your families, I invoke abundant divine blessings.

[The Holy Father concluded his address as follows]

4. Lastly, I wish good work to all those who make up the school realm: students, teachers, directors and collaborators. I assure each one of my constant prayer and I entrust all to the maternal protection of Mary Most Holy. May no one lack the possibility to benefit from this essential realm of formation, and may all be committed to making it a gymnasium of genuine human maturation.

[Translation by ZENIT]

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