SYDNEY, Australia, DEC. 6, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The faithful must be prepared and equipped to live their faith by the provision of sound education in schools and in adult life, said the papal nuncio in Australia.
Archbishop Ambrose De Paoli made this observation and focused on the value of education during his intervention at the recent opening session of the plenary assembly of the Catholic bishops’ conference in Australia.
“The Catholic school is very much a part of instructing in the faith, although not the only one,” said the archbishop. He stressed to the bishops that they have “an enviably extensive, strong and justly esteemed system of schools in Australia which serves the Church and society.”
“To keep it so, a periodic revisit to its fundamental double challenge is necessary,” he noted.
The nuncio recalled the recent National Catholic Education Commission Conference, which asked those involved in Catholic education the twin questions: “How are we doing?” and “What should we be doing?”
“We quite easily refer to a changing society, which is true, but that changing society is a contribution to, as well as a certain reflection of, the ‘changing Catholicity’ of our faithful as well as of our students,” noted Archbishop De Paoli. “And this touches the core of the ‘why’ of Catholic schools.”
The U.S.-born nuncio also pointed out that education in the faith is not limited to children in Catholic schools.
The question of instruction of adults not involved in Church ministries and leading them further in understanding the faith “is perhaps even more challenging than that of instructing children and, perhaps, even more important. And this is especially true when the adults are parents,” he stressed.
The first Catholic school in Australia opened in 1820. According to the 2001 national statistics, which the episcopate quotes, there are 1,697 Catholic schools in Australia with 656,192 students and 40,653 full-time teachers. Catholic schools enroll 19.5% of Australia’s 3.1 million school students.
There are two Catholic universities in the country: Australian Catholic University, with 9,200 students, and Notre Dame Australia, with 1,000 registered students.