Pope's Address to Congregation for Catholic Education

‘Catholic schools and universities make a great contribution to the mission of the Church when they are at the service of growth in humanity, in dialogue and in hope’

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry

Here is a ZENIT translation of Francis’ address today to the plenary session of the Congregation for Catholic Education (of Seminaries and Institutes of Study) in the Vatican
This dicastery has authority in three diverse sectors: over all seminaries (except those falling within the jurisdiction of the Congregations for the Evangelization of Peoples and for Oriental Churches) and houses of formation of religious and secular institutes; over all universities, faculties, institutes and higher schools of study, either ecclesial or civil dependent on ecclesial persons; over all schools and educational institutes depending on ecclesiastical authorities:
* * *
Dear brothers and sisters, I thank the Cardinal Prefect for his words of introduction to this meeting and I warmly greet the recently appointed Members of the Congregation for Catholic Education, among whom is the Prefect himself, who presides over the Plenary Assembly for the first time. I greet the members of the ‘Gravissimum Educationis’ Foundation, constituted a short time ago to re-launch the contents of the Conciliar Declaration.
During these days, you have taken many arguments into consideration, to assess the Dicastery’s work over the last three years and to set out guidelines for future commitments. The sectors of the vast educational field, which are the competence of your Congregation, have committed you in reflection and discussion on several important aspects, such as the initial and permanent formation of docents and directors, also in consideration of the necessity of an inclusive and informal education; or as the irreplaceable contribution of the Religious Congregations, as well as the support that can come from the particular Churches and from organizations of the sector. A good part of your work was dedicated to the ecclesiastical and Catholic university institutions to update the Apostolic Constitution Sapientia christiana; to promote studies of Canon Law in relation to the reform of marriage annulment processes, as well as to support university pastoral care. In addition, you considered the opportunity to offer directives to increase the responsibility of all those who are involved in the demanding field of education.
As I recalled in the Exhortation Evangelii gaudium, “universities are a privileged realm to think and to develop the commitment of evangelization”; and “Catholic schools […] constitute a very valid contribution to the evangelization of culture, also in countries and cities where an adverse situation stimulates us to use creativity to find adequate courses” (n. 134).
In this horizon of evangelization, I wish to share with you some expectations.
First of all, in face of an invasive individualism, which renders us humanly poor and culturally sterile, it is necessary to humanize education. The school and the university make full sense only in relation to the formation of the person. All educators are called to collaborate in this process of human growth, with their professionalism and with the richness of humanity of which they are bearers, to help young people to be builders of a more supportive and pacific world. Even more, Catholic educational institutions have the mission to offer horizons open to transcendence. Gravissimum educationis recalls that education is at the service of an integral humanism and that the Church, as Mother Teacher, looks always at the new generations in the perspective of the “formation of the human person, be it in view of his ultimate end be it for the good of the various societies, of which man is a member and in which, on becoming an adult, he will have tasks to perform” (n. 1).
Another expectation is that the culture of dialogue will grow. Our world has become a global village with multiple processes of interaction, where every person belongs to humanity and shares the hope of a better future with the entire family of peoples. At the same time, unfortunately, there are so many forms of violence, poverty, exploitation, discrimination, marginalization –restrictive approaches to fundamental liberties that create a disposable culture. In this context the Catholic educational institutes are called, in the front line, to practice the grammar of dialogue that forms to encounter and appreciation of the cultural and religious diversities. Dialogue, in fact, educates when a person relates with respect, esteem, sincerity in listening and expresses himself with authenticity, without obfuscating or mitigating his identity nourished by evangelical inspiration. We are encouraged by the conviction that the new generations, educated in a Christian way to dialogue, will come out of the school and university classrooms motivated to build bridges and, hence, to find new answers to the many challenges of our time. In a more specific sense, the schools and universities are called to teach a method of intellectual dialogue geared to the search for truth. Saint Thomas was and still is teacher in this method, which consists in taking the other, the interlocutor, seriously, seeking to thoroughly understand his reasons, his objections, to be able to respond not superficially but in an appropriate way. Only thus can we truly advance together in knowledge of the truth.
There is a last expectation that I would like to share with you: the contribution of education in sowing hope. Man cannot live without hope and education is generator of hope. In fact, it is a making something be born, it is making something grow, it is placed in the dynamic of giving life. And the life that is born is the most gushing source of hope; a life inclined to the search of the beautiful, of the good, of the true and of communion with others for a common growth. I am convinced that today’s young people have, above all, need for this life that builds a future. Therefore, the true educator is like a father or a mother that transmits a life capable of a future. To have this temper one must listen to young people: the “labor of the ear.” To listen to young people! And we will do so in particular with the forthcoming Synod of Bishops dedicated to them. Education, then, has in common with hope the same “cloth” of risk. Hope is not a superficial optimism, not even the capacity to look at things benevolently, but first of all it is being able to risk in the right way, precisely like education.
Dear brothers and sisters, Catholic schools and universities make a great contribution to the mission of the Church when they are at the service of growth in humanity, in dialogue and in hope. I thank you for the work you do to make educational institutions places and experiences of evangelization. I invoke upon you the Holy Spirit, through the intercession of Mary Sedes Sapientiae, that He may render effective your ministry in favor of education. I ask you, please, to pray for me, and I bless you from my heart. Thank you!
[Original text: Italian} [Translation by Virginia M. Forrester]

Print Friendly, PDF & Email
Share this Entry


Support ZENIT

If you liked this article, support ZENIT now with a donation