Saturday, June 8, 2019

Video Message to the Catholic International Education Office

The Holy Father has sent a video message, at the conclusion of the working session, to participants taking part in the World Congress of the Catholic International Education Office (OIEC), taking place from 5 to 8 June at Fordam University - Lincoln Campus in New York (USA), focused on the theme: Educating about the humanism of fraternity in order to build a civilization of love.

Video Message of the Holy Father, Pope Francis
addressed to the World Congress of the
Catholic International Education Office

Madam President,
Mister Secretary General,
Dear friends!

I am happy to extend my most cordial greetings to all of you, who give life in the city of New York to the OIEC World Congress on the theme: Educating in the humanism of fraternity to build a civilization of love. I send a special greeting to your President, Mrs. Augusta Muthigani, and to the Secretary General, Mister Philippe Richard, as well as to the Secretaries of the Regional Committees of the OIEC and to the members of the various bodies.

Your convinced participation manifests the passion with which you live the educational mission in the spirit of the Gospel and according to the teachings of the Church. I thank you for this service, and through you I would like to convey my sincere gratitude to all those who work in Catholic teaching, lay faithful, religious men and women, priests. My thoughts go with affection to the millions of students who attend Catholic institutions in cities and especially in suburbs, and also to their families. Young people, as I said at World Youth Day in Panama, belong today to God and therefore are also the today of our educational mission.

The deepening that you propose to do concerning the contribution of education to the humanism of the fraternity is placed in harmony with the Declaration Gravissimum educationis of the Second Vatican Council - I quote the Council: All men of any race, condition and age, by force of their dignity as a person they have an inalienable right to an education that responds to their own vocation and conforms to their temperament, the difference in sex, the culture and traditions of their country, and at the same time open to a fraternal coexistence with other peoples, in order to guarantee true unity and true peace on earth. And the declaration continues: Children and young people ... must also be sent to social life, so that, provided with the means necessary and adequate for them, they can actively integrate into the groups that constitute the human community, are available for dialogue with others and willingly contribute to the increase of the common good (GE, 1) including the Second Vatican Council.

Therefore, the humanism that Catholic educational institutions are called to construct - as Saint John Paul II stated - is that which "advocates a vision of society centred on the human person and his inalienable rights, on the values of justice and peace, on a correct relationship between individuals, society and the State, in the logic of solidarity and subsidiarity. It is a humanism capable of infusing a soul with the same economic progress, so that it may be aimed at the promotion of every man and of the whole man (Speech to university professors, 9 September 2000, 6). This humanistic perspective today cannot fail to include ecological education, which promotes an alliance between humanity and the environment, in the different levels of ecological equilibrium, establishing harmony within ourselves, with others, with nature and other living creatures, and with God" (Laudato si ', 210).

This is not an easy challenge, which certainly cannot be faced alone, in isolation. Also for this reason, the sharing that you experience in the days of your Congress is a very important experience to carry out a work of discernment, in the face of opportunities and difficulties, and to renew your educational challenge, drawing also from the great testimonies of the Saints and holy educators, whose example is a luminous beacon that can illuminate your service.

One of the main difficulties that education encounters today is the widespread tendency to deconstruct humanism. Individualism and consumerism generate a competition that debases cooperation, blurs common values and undermines the most basic rules of coexistence. The culture of indifference, which surrounds relations between peoples, as well as the care of the common home, also corrodes the sense of humanism.

To cope with this deconstruction we need the synergy of the different educational realities. The first is the family, as a place where one learns to get out of ourselves and to place ourselves in front of others, to listen, to share, to endure, to respect, to help, to live together (Amoris laetitia, 276). To this process of growth in humanity all educators are called to collaborate, both with their professionalism and with the coherent witness of their lives, to help young people to be active builders of a more supportive and peaceful world. In particular, Catholic educational institutions have the mission of offering horizons open to transcendence, because Catholic education makes the difference by cultivating spiritual values in young people.

Reconstructing humanism also means orienting educational work towards the peripheries, the social peripheries and the existential peripheries. Through the service, the meeting and the welcome, opportunities are offered to the weakest and most vulnerable. In this way one grows together and matures understanding the needs of others. Thus the educational community, through patient daily work, generates a wide inclusion, which goes beyond the walls of the school and extends with its transformative force to the whole society, favouring encounter, peace and reconciliation. In this regard, the document on human fraternity that I recently signed with the Great Imam of Al-Azhar, offers elements of reflection and action.

Another danger that threatens the delicate task of education is the dictatorship of results. It considers the person as a laboratory, an object and has no interest in his or her integral growth. It also ignores a person's difficulties, his mistakes, his fears, his dreams, his freedom. This approach - dictated by the logic of production and consumption - places the emphasis mainly on the economy and seems to artificially equate men with machines.

To overcome this obstacle, the whole person must be placed at the centre of the educational action. To this end the educator must be competent, qualified and, at the same time, rich in humanity, capable of being among the students to promote their human and spiritual growth. The educator must unite in himself qualities of teaching and capacity for attention and loving care towards people. For both of these aspects there is a need for ongoing training, which helps teachers and managers to maintain their professionalism and, at the same time, to take care of their faith and their spiritual motivations.

Today, education must also face the obstacle of the so-called rapidación (in English rapidification), which imprisons existence in the vortex of speed, constantly changing the points of reference. In this context the identity itself loses consistency and the psychological structure disintegrates in the face of an incessant transformation that contrasts with the natural slowness of biological evolution (Laudato si', 18).

The chaos of speed must be answered by returning to time its primary factor, especially in the developmental age from childhood to adolescence. In fact, the person needs his or her own time path to learn, consolidate and transform knowledge. Rediscovering time also means appreciating silence and pausing to contemplate the beauty of creation, finding inspiration to protect our common home and activating initiatives aimed at proposing new lifestyles respecting the generations to come. It is an act of responsibility for our posterity, which we cannot ignore!

Your coming together during these days is a great opportunity to revive the momentum for Catholic education that gave birth to OIEC as a worldwide network of national and international realities. It is also an opportunity to enthusiastically gather the current educational challenge of a globalized and digitalized world, as well as to relaunch the availability for cooperation with international organizations.

Therefore, I hope that all of you will continue in the educational mission with the joy of doing and the patience of listening. Let's not lose confidence! As Saint Elizabeth Ann Bailey Seton said, we must look up without fear. We work to free education from a relativistic horizon and open it to the integral formation of each and everyone.

I thank you for the work you do to make educational institutions places and experiences of growth in the light of the Gospel, to make them yards of a humanism of fraternity to build the civilization of love. I am praying for you; and you, too, please pray for me. Thank you!
Original text in Italian
Texto en español

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