Pope Francis hopes to heal the wounds of the Church, when he visits Barbiana, near Florence in Tuscany, Italy, on June 20, 2017, for the 50th anniversary of the death of Father Lorenzo Milani (1923-1967), founder of the Barbiana School, explained Francesco Gesualdi, a former pupil of Father Milani.
The Pope’s visit to Barbiana is “an official recognition for all that Father Milani did”: “with this gesture, he remedies a whole series of wounds that marked the relations with the ecclesiastical authority, especially local,” he stressed in an interview granted to the Italian Episcopal Conference’s TV2000, made public on June 16.
Questioned and attacked notably for his innovative educational methods, “Father Milani . . . wanted to remain in the heart of the Church because he had need of it, he had need of it for the forgiveness of sins. It is for this reason that within the Church he could be judged extremely revolutionary and, at the same time, very obedient.”
“The recognition of the Church is very important for the prior, added Francesco Gesualdi, because he realized that to be on the margins of the Church moved parishioners away and this was a suffering for him..”
“That love was his rule of life is clear in his writings. He loved us so profoundly that he denied himself … he was someone of extreme tenderness and hard at the same time, as a father. His love was that of a father,” stressed Gesualdi.
His former student rejects the idea that Father Milani had a discriminatory attitude towards women: if at Barbiana girls were not numerous it was because “the families did not give importance to their education,” he said.