Pope Francis urged Catholic teachers to promote good values and religion in the classroom.
The Pope made this proposal Friday when he received in audience the Italian Association of Catholic Teachers (AIMC), at the conclusion of the XXI AIMC National Congress entitled “Memory and future. Peripheries and frontiers of professional knowledge “(Rome, Jan. 3-5, 2018).
The Pope offered three points for reflection and commitment: the culture of encounter, the alliance between school and family and ecological education.
Francis began by thanking them for their contribution to the Church’s commitment to promoting the culture of the encounter. Francis encouraged them to continue doing so, “in an even more capillary and incisive way.”
“Christian teachers, whether they work in Catholic schools or in state schools,” the Pope reminded, “are called to stimulate in the pupils the openness to the other as a face, as a person, as a brother and sister to know and respect, with his or her history, merits and defects, riches and limits. The challenge is to cooperate to train young people to be open and interested in the reality that surrounds them, capable of care and tenderness – I think of bullies – free from the widespread prejudice according to which one must be competitive, aggressive, and hard towards others, especially towards those who are different, foreign or in any way seen as an obstacle to one’s own affirmation.”
This unfortunately is an “air” that our children often breathe, the Pope suggested, and the remedy is to make sure “they can breathe a different, healthier, more human air.” For this reason, the Holy Father reminded, the alliance with parents is very important.
The second point, he said, is the educational alliance between the school and the family.
We all know that this alliance has long been in crisis, and in some cases completely broken.”We must take note of the changes that have affected both the family and the school, and renew the commitment to a constructive collaboration, for the benefit of children and young people. And since this synergy no longer occurs in a “natural” way, it must be favored in a planning manner, even with the contribution of experts in the pedagogical field.”
“But first we must encourage a new ‘complicity’ – I am conscious in my use of this word, a new complicity – between teachers and parents. First of all, by avoiding thinking of each other as opposing fronts, blaming each other, but on the contrary putting ourselves in the shoes of each other, understanding the objective difficulties that each encounters in education today, and thus creating greater solidarity: complicity in solidarity.”
The third aspect the Pope underlined was “ecological education.” (see Encyclical Laudato si ‘, 202-215).
“Of course, it is not just a matter of giving some notions, which must be taught. It is about educating to a lifestyle based on the attitude of care for our common home that is created. A lifestyle that is not schizophrenic, that is, for example, take care of the animals in extinction but ignore the problems of the elderly; or who defend the Amazon forest but neglect workers’ rights to a just wage, and so on. The ecology to educate must be integral.”
Above all, Francis reminded, education must aim at the sense of responsibility. This involves, he underscored, that a style of behavior that in the Christian perspective finds meaning and motivation in the relationship with God. the creator and redeemer, with Jesus Christ, center of the cosmos and of history, with the Holy Spirit, source of harmony in the symphony of Creation.
Before concluding, the Pontiff emphasized the value of being and making association.
It is a value not to be taken for granted, but always to be cultivated, he said, stressing: “Do not be afraid of the differences and also of the conflicts that normally exist in lay associations; do not hide them, but face them with an evangelical style, in the search for the true good of the association, evaluated on the basis of statutory principles.”
Being an association, he reminded, is a value and a responsibility that is entrusted to them right now. He reminded them that they can fulfill this responsibility fully, with the help of God and the pastors of the Church.
Saying he would pray for the teachers and their work, Pope Francis concluded, reminding them to pray for him.