Students Have Right to Church's Full Heritage, Says Pope

Tells Bishops of India That Truth Must Be Presented Without Compromise

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CASTEL GANDOLFO, Italy, SEPT. 8, 2011 ( Benedict XVI says Catholic schools in India need to be «genuinely Catholic» so they can contribute to the up-building of society.

The Pope said this today when he received in audience a group of bishops from India at the papal summer residence in Castel Gandolfo. The bishops represented Bombay, Nagpur, Goa e Damão, Gandhinagar and Bangalore, and are in Italy for their five-yearly «ad limina» visit.

The Holy Father noted how the Church in India has «a multitude of institutions which are intended to be expressions of the love of God for humanity.» These institutions, he said, including orphanages, hospitals and other organizations are making «an invaluable contribution to the well-being not only of Catholics, but of society at large.»

Among all these, the Pontiff said, schools have a special role: «In helping the spiritual, intellectual and moral faculties of their students to mature, Catholic schools should continue to develop a capacity for sound judgment and introduce them to the heritage bequeathed to them by former generations, thus fostering a sense of values and preparing their pupils for a happy and productive life.»

Benedict XVI asked the prelates to «pay close attention to the quality of instruction in the schools present in your dioceses, to ensure that they be genuinely Catholic and therefore capable of passing on those truths and values necessary for the salvation of souls and the up-building of society.»

In fact, he emphasized that students have a right to «receive the fullness of the intellectual and spiritual heritage of the Church.»

«Those who teach in the name of the Church have a particular obligation faithfully to hand on the riches of the tradition, in accordance with the magisterium and in a way that responds to the needs of today,» the Pope affirmed.

Gently but firmly

Benedict XVI also spoke to the bishops about presenting the truth, saying that «all of the Church’s activities are meant to glorify God and fill his people with the truth that sets us free.»

The Christian population of India is just slightly over 2%, while the vast majority of the nation is Hindu.

The Pope exhorted the bishops to keep «saving truth» at the foundation of all the Church’s endeavors, «proposed to others always with respect but also without compromise.»

«The capacity to present the truth gently but firmly is a gift to be nurtured especially among those who teach in Catholic institutes of higher education and those who are charged with the ecclesial task of educating seminarians, religious or the lay faithful, whether in theology, catechetical studies or Christian spirituality,» he added.

«Encourage those involved in education, whether priests, religious or laity, to deepen their faith in Jesus Christ, crucified and risen from the dead,» the Pope told the prelates. «Enable them to reach out to their neighbors that, by their word and example, they may more effectively proclaim Christ as the Way, the Truth and the Life.»

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