“Take courage! God the Father has called you here in Sarajevo, a place that still bears many wounds but also the certainty of Christ’s victory over death, to speak in primis to your hearts. The future is really of God: this is the great certainty of life, the great, true optimism”.
It is with this heartfelt invitation to hope that Cardinal Vinko Puljic, Archbishop of Sarajevo, opened the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences (CCEE) congress on school.
The event will see, until Sunday 18, over 70 participants meeting and exchanging experiences around the theme of Christian formation and spiritual accompaniment of Catholic teachers in the school.
The meeting, promoted by the ‘School’ section of the CCEE Commission “Catechesis, Schools, Universities”, by the European Committee for Catholic Education (CEEC) together with the Bishops’ Conference of Bosnia- Herzegovina, was opened this afternoon with the greetings from the President of the CCEE Commission, Archbishop Marek Jedraszewski and the President of the CEEC, Dr. Christine Mann.
In the city in which a hundred years ago began the First World War and, in the last century has been marked by three bloody wars, the local Church is committed to building peace on a daily basis, primarily through “the dignity of men and women their rights”, but also through “education and training of young people”, recalls Puljić. He continues: “This is the most valuable investment. But it is not enough just to pursue intellectual training, it is essential to help man to be man”. In short, the Bosnian Cardinal speaks of education “to liberty and responsibility, education for coexistence and tolerance, education in which every man is free to be what he is in its own rights and freedoms”.
And to achieve this, the Archbishop of Sarajevo states the synergy between the forces in the field: families, schools and society. “Too often the state appropriates the rights of parents in education and parents too often neglect their primary responsibility. It is a continuous process of synergy in order to help young people to become able to live and deal with all the challenges of life, to respond to it with those true values that young people carry inside”.
For his part, the President of the CCEE Commission, Msgr. Jedraszewski, recalled that Catholic teachers have a duty to proclaim Christ “from the moment of their baptism,” and therefore “are required to be missionaries, to be witnesses of Jesus Christ” in the school. And in front of students non-believers, they shouldn’t lose heart and remember that “every man can discover his human dignity and the mystery of his being a man through the person of Jesus Christ.” In short, for the Polish archbishop there is not “a purpose more beautiful and more charming than to make their students see the greatness of man discovered through the person of Jesus of Nazareth.”
In her address, the President of the CEEC, Christine Mann, focused on the contribution that Catholic schools give to Europe, “We are sure – said Ms Mann – that our catholic schools today make a significant contribution to Europe, so that Europe really becomes what it should be: a Europe in peace, a Europe which does not only represent an economic fortress, but a Europe in which religions are recognized as important value donators and will fill out their place in our society”.
Work continued in the afternoon with an introduction to the theme of the Congress by Bishop Eric Aumonier, President of the ‘School’ section of CCEE Commission. In the evening is a witness of the auxiliary bishop of Sarajevo, Bishop Pero Sudar, on the situation in Bosnia and Herzegovina , his Church and schools for Europe.