Vatican City, 21 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Paul VI Hall the Holy Father received the participants in the World Congress “Educating today and tomorrow: a renewing passion”, promoted by the Congregation for Catholic Education. The congress, held in Rome from 18 to 21 November, commemorated fifty years since “Gravissimum educationis”, the Conciliar declaration on Christian education, and the 25th anniversary of the Apostolic Constitution “Ex corde Ecclesiae” on the Catholic university.
During the encounter, the Pope heard testimonies from Catholic schools and universities from around the world, and answered three questions. The first was on how educational institutions, present in a diverse range of nations, can be truly Christian. “It is not possible to speak of Catholic education without speaking of humanity, as Catholic identity is God made man”, Francis answered. “Going ahead in terms of attitudes, full human values, opens the door to the seed of Christianity. Faith then follows. Educating in a Christian fashion is not only about catechesis: this is just a part. … It involves educating the young and children in human values in all realities, and one of these is transcendence. … For me, the greatest crisis in education, from a Christian perspective, is closure to transcendence. We are not open to transcendence. It is necessary to prepare hearts so that the Lord manifests Himself”.
In response to the second question, on the meaning of the culture of encounter for all people involved in the promotion of education, Francis said, “It means taking risks. An educator who does not take risks is not able to educate. A father and mother who do not risk do not educate their children well. Risking in a reasoned way. What does this mean? It means learning to walk. The true educator must teach managed and reasonable risk”.
The final question related to the future challenges posed to the educator by the current moments of war, which, the Pope said, required them to become patient builders of peace. “The greatest failure of an educator is to educate 'behind walls'. … The walls of a selective culture, the walls of a culture of safety, the walls of a well-off social sector that does not move ahead”. He concluded by encouraging all educators to think about how they can bring mercy into the field of education. “How can we ensure that the Father's Love, specially emphasised in this Year of Mercy, finds its way into our educational work?”.