Pontiff: Youth Need Values Education

Urges Belize to Pass on Nation’s «Rich History»

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VATICAN CITY, DEC. 21, 2008 (Zenit.org).- Youth need an integral education of not only ideas, but also those values that form the basis of a fulfilled life and a humane society, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope spoke Thursday of the importance of education upon receiving the letters of credence from Oscar Ayuso, the new ambassador of Belize to the Holy See.

He said Belizeans have a «rich history» they should be proud of, and that the nation’s «impressive legacy cannot be taken for granted, but needs to be constantly reappropriated and consciously handed down to the younger generation at every level of education and community life.»

The Pontiff said this task is urgent, as «the values which have traditionally shaped Belize’s national life and identity are being challenged by the importation of certain cultural models which, tragically, sap the very energies and gifts which young people bring to society: their idealism, generosity, joy, hope and enthusiasm.»

«By fostering a climate of cynicism and alienation, they facilitate the spread of a counter-culture of violence and escapism, and the search for false utopias through alcohol and drug abuse,» the Holy Father added.

Benedict XVI lamented the «destructive» effects of alcohol and drug abuse, and called it a «source of particular concern for all those committed to the welfare, not only of the young, but of society as a whole.»

«The Church, for her part,» he continued, «wishes to help meet these challenges by assisting young people to discern, in the light of the Gospel, the lasting truths which are the foundation of an authentic and truly fulfilling life, and the basis of a peaceful and humane social community.»

Family is key

The Pope affirmed that the family is «essential to the future of any society.»

He continued: «In my Message for the 2008 World Day of Peace, I emphasized the unique role of the family as ‘the foundation of society and the first and indispensable teacher of peace.’

«Strong families have long been a hallmark of your national life, and the Catholic community in Belize is committed to work with all people of good will in meeting responsibly the growing threats to the institutions of marriage and the family, especially by upholding the nature of marriage based on the life-long union of a man and woman, protecting the specific rights of the family, and respecting the inviolable dignity of all human life, from the moment of conception to natural death.»

«This witness, aimed at informing public opinion and fostering wise, far-sighted family policies,» the Pontiff added, «is meant to contribute to the common good by defending an institution which has been, and continues to be, ‘an essential resource in the service of peace’ and social progress.»

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Full text: www.zenit.org/article-24634?l=english

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