Pope Francis speaks as he leads his general audience in St. Peter's Square at the Vatican Feb. 12. (CNS photo/Paul Haring)
Vatican City, 13 February 2014 (VIS) “Catholic education is one of
the most important challenges for the Church, currently committed to new
evangelisation in an historical and cultural context that is undergoing
constant transformation”, remarked the Holy Father in his address to
participants in the plenary session of the Congregation for Catholic
Education (for Educational Institutions), whom he received in audience
in the Sala Clementina this morning.
The agenda of the plenary
session, the Pope commented, includes themes of primary importance such
as the implementation of the Apostolic Constitution “Sapientia
Christiana”, the consolidation of the identity of Catholic universities,
and the preparations for the events which will fall in 2015: the
fiftieth anniversary of the Conciliar Declaration “Gravissimum
educationis” and the twenty-fifth anniversary of the Apostolic
Constitution “Ex Corde Ecclesiae”.
Pope Francis proposed three
aspects for consideration by the participants: the value of dialogue in
education, the qualified preparation of formators and the responsibility
of educational institutions to express the living presence of the
Gospel in the fields of education, science and culture.
to the first of these points, he said, “Effectively, Catholic schools
and universities are attended by many students who are not Christian or
do not believe. Catholic educational institutions offer to all an
approach to education that has as its aim the full development of the
person, which responds to the right of every person to access to
knowledge. However, they are also called upon to offer, with full
respect for the freedom of each person and using the methods appropriate
to the scholastic environment, the Christian belief, that is, to
present Jesus Christ as the meaning of life, the cosmos and history.
Jesus began to proclaim the good news of the 'Galilee of the people', a
crossroads of people, diverse in terms of race, culture and religion.
This context resembles today's world, in certain respects. The profound
changes that have led to the ever wider diffusion of multicultural
societies require those who work in the school or university sector to
be involved in educational itineraries involving comparison and
dialogue, with a courageous and innovative fidelity that enables
Catholic identity to encounter the various 'souls' of multicultural
With regard to the second aspect, the Pope remarked
that during his meeting with the Superior Generals, he had emphasised
that education in our times “is guided by a changing generation, and
that, therefore, every educator and the Church as a whole is an
educating mother is required to change, in the sense of knowing how to
communicate with the young”.
In relation to the responsibility
of educational institutions to “express the living presence of the
Gospel in the field of education, science and culture”, Pope Francis
reiterated the need for Catholic academic institutions to avoid
“isolating themselves in the world”, and instead to “know how to enter,
with courage, into the Areopagus of contemporary cultures and to
initiate dialogue, aware of the gift they are able to offer to all”.