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Friday, November 13, 2015

The Pope on the current relevance of Romano Guardini

Vatican City, 13 November 2015 (VIS) – This morning in the Clementine Hall the Pope received in audience members of the Romano Guardini Foundation attending the Congress promoted by the Pontifical Gregorian University to commemorate the 150th anniversary of the birth of the Italian-born German priest, theologian and writer. During the audience the president of the foundation, Professor Ludwig von Pufendorf, announced the imminent publication of a previously unpublished text by Guardini who, as the Holy Father affirmed, “has much to say to the people of our time, and not only Christians”.

Francis recalled that Guardini, in his book “The Religious World of Dostoevsky”, cites the episode in “The Brothers Karamazov” in which a peasant confesses to the starec (the spiritual guide of orthodox monasteries) that she had killed her sick husband who had mistreated her throughout his life. The starec notes that the woman, desperately aware of her guilt, is entirely closed in on herself and that any reflection, comfort or counsel would meet this wall. The woman is convinced she is condemned; however, the priest shows her the way out. Her life has meaning, because God will receive her at the moment of repentance. He urges her not to be afraid since there is not, and there cannot be, a sin on earth that God cannot forgive to those who repent sincerely, nor can there be a sin so great that it exhausts God's infinite love. In confession the woman is transformed and receives new hope.

“The simplest people understand what this is about”, said the Pope. “They perceive the greatness that shines in the starec's wisdom and the strength of his love. They understand what holiness means, that is, an existence lived in faith, able to see that God is close to man, that He holds their life in His hands. In this respect, Guardini says, that by accepting with simplicity existence in the hand of God, personal will transforms into divine will and in this way, without the creature ceasing to be only a creature and God truly God, their living unity is brought about”.

For Guardini, this “living unity” with God consists of the concrete relationship of people with the world and with others around them. “The individual feels a part of the fabric of the population, that is, in an original union of men that by type, country and historical evolution in life and destinies are a single entity”. The author of “The Meaning of the Church” considered the concept of “population” as the “compendium of what in man is genuine, profound and substantial. We are able to recognise in the population, as in a mirror, “field of the force of divine action”.

“Perhaps we can apply Guardini's reflections to our own time, seeking to uncover the hand of God in current events”, observed the Holy Father. “In this way we will perhaps be able to recognise that God, in His wisdom, sent us, in rich Europe, the hungry to be fed, the thirsty to slake their thirst, the stranger to be welcomed and the naked to be clothed. History then shows this: if we are a population, we will certainly welcome these as our brothers; if we are merely a group of individuals, we will be tempted only to save our own skins, but we will have no continuity”.

The Pope greeted the members of the Foundation, expressing his hope that Guardini's work will help them increasingly to understand the meaning and value of the Christian foundations of culture and society”.

Educating today and tomorrow: a renewing passion, fifty years after Vatican Council II on Christian education

Vatican City, 13 November 2015 (VIS) - “Educating today and tomorrow: a renewing passion” is the title of the World Congress organised by the Congregation for Catholic Education to commemorate the 50th anniversary of “Gravissimum educationis”, the Vatican Council II Declaration on Christian education, and the 25th of “Ex corde Ecclesiae (Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities). The event will take place in Rome from 18 to 21 November.

The Congress was presented this morning in the Holy See Press Office by Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect of the Congregation for Education, Bishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani, secretary of the same congregation, and Professor Italo Fiorin, director of the “Educating in encounter and solidarity” School of Higher Education at the Libera Università Maria Ss. Assunta (LUMSA), Rome.

Cardinal Versaldi commented that these commemorative events highlight the participation of the Congregation for Catholic Education in the educational passion of the Church, which “is still aware today – as is stated in the incipit of the conciliar document whose fiftieth year we are celebrating – 'how extremely important education is in the life of man and how its influence ever grows in the social progress of this age'. Aware of this, the most recent consequence is the World Congress”.

Bishop Zani went on to explain that the idea of the Congress emerged during the plenary session of the cardinals and bishops of the Congregation for Catholic Education in 2011, in in which they discussed the Department's future lines of action and Pope Benedict XVI, in his discourse, referred to the two anniversaries in 2015. This led to the choice of date for the Congress. In 2012, around fifty experts from around the globe met in Rome to identify pending problems regarding education promoted by the Church all over the world, and to make some first suggestions to relaunch important educational activities carried out by many Catholic institutions. The results of the seminar were gathered into a document bearing the same title as the Congress, and were sent to interested parties along with a questionnaire to be returned to the dicastery. “The reaction was surprising”, said Bishop Zani, “We received thousands of answers to the online questionnaire and hundreds of postal responses”.

The November Congress was preceded in June by a UNESCO international forum on education, attended by Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin. “Educating today and tomorrow: a renewing passion” will open on 18 November in the Paul VI Hall with a session describing new scenarios in education and the aims of the meeting, and will continue on 19 and 20 November in other places, considering four themes: the identity and mission of Catholic schools and universities, the subjects of education and their various responsibilities (bishops, parents, directors, teachers and students), the formation of formators and the challenges of today and tomorrow. On 21 November the participants, more than 2,200 in number, will be received in audience by the Holy Father.

The prelate emphasised, however, that the Congress will not be an end in itself, but may instead represent a new beginning in collaboration with the Congregation for Catholic Education and various other institutions. For example, there have been some requests for a General Directory of Catholic education, summarising the essential principles and norms issued in documents from the Council to today, relating to Catholic educational institutions, and the constitution of a working group for this purpose. Another aspect that emerged from the answers to the questionnaire is the need for a permanent centre of Christian inspiration to study pedagogical problems. This proposal has been accepted by LUMSA and a few months ago the “Educating in encounter and solidarity” School of Higher Education was established.

On 28 October this year Pope Francis constituted by chirograph the new Foundation “Gravissimum Educationis”, to study particular situations and to implement original and innovatory problems, especially in the most difficult situations. Finally, a small working group will be formed to study the legal problems that inevitably emerge in various parts of the world, especially following changes to constitutions or laws that may endanger the survival of Catholic schools and universities.


Vatican City, 13 November 2015 (VIS) – Today, the Holy Father received in audience:

- Claude-Joel Giordan, ambassador of the Principality of Monaco, presenting his credential letters;

- Cardinal Fernando Filoni, prefect of the Congregation for the Evangelisation of Peoples;

- Archbishop Ivan Jurkovic, apostolic nuncio in Russia and in Uzbekistan

- Luis Leonardo Almagro, secretary general of the Organisation of American States.

Other Pontifical Acts

Vatican City, 13 November 2015 (VIS) – The Holy Father has appointed:

- Archbishop Claudio Gugerotti, apostolic nuncio in Belorus, as apostolic nuncio in Ukraine.

- Archbishop Paolo Rocco Gualtieri, apostolic nuncio in Madagascar, Mauritius and the Seychelles, as apostolic delegate in the Comoros Islands, with the function of apostolic delegate in La Reunion, France.
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