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Monday, July 5, 2004


VATICAN CITY, JUL 3, 2004 (VIS) - John Paul II today welcomed 100 participants in the European symposium, "The Challenges of Education: Recovery, Promises, Commitments," now underway in Rome. The meeting was promoted by the Episcopal Commission for Catholic Education, Schools and Universities of the Italian Episcopal Conference, in collaboration with the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE) and with the Commission of the Episcopacies of the European Community (COMECE).

  In his address in French, the Pope expressed his delight at the attention being given "to questions concerning education, especially important today in Europe where so many young people seem disoriented. The educational policies of States take pains to find new perspectives to face the difficulties of young people in their personal life and in the social framework."

  He said that "to give young people a future, education must be seen as the search for the integral and harmonious development of the person, of the maturing of the moral conscience to be able to discern good and to act in accordance, and also as an attention to the spiritual dimension of the growing youth." He once again emphasized the Christian roots of Europe at the basis of its "spiritual and moral traditions."

  Students must be helped, said the Holy Father, "to be more," not just "to have more." There must be unity among all aspects of education and teachers, parents, and educators "must remember that what they teach must be supported by the witness of their lives."

   John Paul II underscored the great "lack of hope in today's youth. ... In the Apostolic Exhortation 'Ecclesia in Europe', I noted that 'at the root of this loss of hope is an attempt to promote a vision of man apart from God and apart from Christ', giving God's place to man. 'Forgetfulness of God led to the abandonment of man'. True education must depart from the truth about man, the affirmation of his dignity and his transcendent vocation."

  He closed his remarks by noting that "the Christian community also has a role in education. ... May Christians not be afraid to announce Christ to the new generations, Christ, the source of hope and light on their path! May they know how to welcome adolescents and their families, listen to and help them, even if that often is demanding!"

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