By Devin Watkins
Pope Francis on Monday spoke to participants in the Gravissimum Educationis Foundation’s conference entitled, “To Educate is to Transform”.
The Holy Father encouraged the group in their efforts to coordinate between Catholic educational institutions, and offered them three suggestions.
Pope Francis first urged the Foundation to network among institutions, so as to make them more effective by drawing on each one’s intellectual and cultural strong points.
He said networking means uniting fields of study, creating spaces for cultural encounter and dialogue, and making schools “educating communities”. This, he said, means uniting students and teachers in mutual sharing through “a curriculum of life and experience.”
Given the global challenges facing the human family, Pope Francis said Catholic education “recognizes that humankind’s moral responsibility today does not just extend through space, but also through time, and that present choices have repercussions for future generations.”
Face social change optimistically
Secondly, Pope Francis invited the Foundation’s members to teach people to face social change optimistically. The goal, he said, is for men and women to “immerse themselves in reality with the light that radiates from the promise of Christian salvation.”
The Pope said Catholic educators must not lose hope but offer it to today’s world.
“We need to give a soul to the global world through an intellectual and moral formation that can support the good things that globalization brings and correct the harmful ones,” he said.
Focus on: identity, quality, common good
Finally, Pope Francis offered the Gravissimum Educationis Foundation three criteria in order to be effective. Identity, quality, and care for the common good, he said, are essential to the Catholic educator’s task.
Schools and universities need to be consistent and show continuity between their foundational mission and the Church’s mission of evangelization, the Pope said. By focusing on the quality of their education and the common good, he said educators can help all understand that “we belong to one human family”.
“To fulfill your mission, therefore, you must lay its foundations in a way consistent with our Christian identity; establish means appropriate for the quality of study and research; and pursue goals in harmony with service to the common good.”
About Gravissimum Educationis Foundation
Pope Francis established the Gravissimum Educationis Foundation at the request of the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education in October 2015.
The Foundation’s purpose is to renew the Church’s commitment to Catholic education in step with the historical transformations of our time.