ROME, NOV. 10, 2008 (Zenit.org).- A Vatican official says defending the family means defending education and education is key for the future of humanity.
Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, affirmed this in an interview published Oct. 30 by the Italian magazine “Il Consulente Re.”
Education, the cardinal explained, is not just knowledge and technical capacities. This information can be “used for good or evil,” he said, as history shows.
Instead, “it’s necessary to educate people so they know how to and want to use what they have learned in favor of good and not evil,” Cardinal Grocholewski said.
True education “is not contrary to liberty and is not an imposition,” but instead “looks precisely toward forming free persons, who are not and will not become slaves of their vices,” he continued.
The Vatican official acknowledged that education is more difficult today than in the past, given the influence of schools and media on the “irreplaceable” role of the family.
Thus, Catholic education takes on an important role, he said, aiming at “favoring the physical, intellectual and moral development of the human person, toward the full awareness and dominion of himself, the taking on of responsibilities, participation in values and the common good.”
Cardinal Grocholewski said there are three fundamental goals for Catholic education: “the effective proclamation of the Gospel, entrance into the life of liturgy and prayer, and the religious, spiritual and moral maturing of the student.”
It implies, therefore “an education that […] takes charge of the integral growth of the student, in all of his dimensions.”
He added, “This means acting according to an anthropological concept that thinks of the student as a life to be promoted — a life with a transcendent dimension, and as a person to encourage and support in the process of human maturation so that it becomes possible to reach the plenitude of his potential and aspirations, and so that he finds in Christ, the perfect man, the model to follow.”
And, the cardinal continued, Catholic education should begin in the family.
Today, he said, it is necessary that families “take up again the educational function that pertains to them.”
“In the warmth of the family home, in fact, the first school of life and social virtues is found, the first and irreplaceable school of citizenship and faith, of becoming sensitive to values,” the Vatican official added.
Cardinal Grocholewski went on to say that Catholic education is open to everyone and not reserved to Catholics alone.
He noted that in countries of non-Christian majority or in developing nations, Catholic schools play a role of civil progress, promotion of the person, inculturation, and interreligious dialogue.
Still, the cardinal affirmed, Catholic schools should not be hypocritical: “that is, say they are Catholic and avoid transmitting Christian values.”
He also criticized governments that do not enable freedom in choosing Catholic education.
“It’s simply absurd to speak of full liberty of choice, if in choosing one school there is no tuition, and in choosing other tuition has to be paid,” he said. “It’s absurd to speak of the right to choose if a choice is not made effectively possible.”