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Monday, April 27, 2009


VATICAN CITY, 25 APR 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican, Benedict XVI received participants in a meeting of Italian Catholic teachers of religion. The teachers were accompanied by Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco, president of the Italian Episcopal Conference.

  "The teaching of Catholic religion is an inherent part of the history of education in Italy", said the Pope. The large number of pupils "who choose to study this subject is, furthermore, a sign of the exceptional importance it has in the educational process and an indication of the high levels of quality achieved".

  "Focusing on man created in God's image is, in fact, what daily distinguishes your work, in unity of purpose with other educators and teachers", said the Holy Father. He then recalled words he had pronounced at the 2006 Italian ecclesial congress in Verona when, touching on the "fundamental and decisive question" of education, he had highlighted the need "'to broaden the horizon of our rationality, open it to the great questions of truth and goodness, and unite theology, philosophy and science, respecting their reciprocal autonomy but also aware of the intrinsic unity that holds them together'. The religious dimension is, indeed, intrinsic to culture, it helps in the overall formation of the person and enables knowledge to be transformed into life wisdom".

  "Thanks to the teaching of Catholic religion, then, school and society are enriched with what is a true workshop of culture and of humanity, in which, by examining the significant contributions Christianity has made, people are enabled to discover goodness and grow in responsibility, to seek to confront their views and refine their critical sense, and to draw from the gifts of the past in order to better understand the present and to project themselves towards the future".

  The Pope then went on to refer to the current Pauline Year, observing that in the teaching of the Apostle of the Gentiles "religious formation is not separate from human formation. The final Letters of his epistolary, the so-called 'pastoral Letters' are full of significant references to social and civil life, aspects which Christ's disciples must keep well to mind. St. Paul is a true master, concerned both for the salvation and for the human and civil formation of people educated in a mentality of faith. ... The religious dimension is, then, not an appendage but an inherent part of the person".

  In closing, Benedict XVI praised the teachers' work. "Far from being a form of interference or a restriction on freedom", he told them, "your presence is a fine example of that positive spirit of secularism which enables constructive civil coexistence to be promoted, founded on reciprocal respect and faithful dialogue, values that a country always needs".
AC/RELIGION TEACHERS/BAGNASCO                VIS 20090427 (460)

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