By Christopher Wells
Pope Francis joined other leaders of world religions on Tuesday for a meeting on “Religions and Education: Towards a Global Compact on Education.” According to a press release from the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education, participants engaged “in a fraternal dialogue on the major challenges for education today.”
Shaping the future
In his address at the meeting, Pope Francis recalled his appeal, in 2019, to all those engaged in education to dialogue on “how we are shaping the future of our planet,” noting that change requires “an educational process aimed at developing a new universal solidarity and a more welcoming society.”
This, he said, is the reason for his call for a “broad educational alliance” to restore relationships in order to build a more fraternal humanity.
“If we desire a more fraternal world,” he said, “we need to educate young people ‘to acknowledge, appreciate, and love each person,” regardless of our differences. He explained that education must be established not only on the “fundamental principle ‘Know yourself,” but also on other “essential principles”: knowing one’s brothers and sisters; knowing creation; and knowing the transcendent “in order to educate in the great mystery of life.”
The Pope added, “We cannot fail to speak to young people about the truths that give meaning to life.”
Religions and education
Emphasizing the close relationship between religions and education, Pope Francis said that, “as in the past, so also in our day, with the wisdom and humanity of our religious traditions, we want to be a stimulus for a renewed educational activity that can advance universal fraternity in our world.”
The Pope acknowledged harmful practices that, at times, may have disfigured religious education, including conflict between different religions; discrimination against minorities; disrespect for the rights of women, children and the most vulnerable; and tolerance of exploitation of creation.
In contrast, he said we are now committed to peaceful coexistence; defense of the dignity of all, and of the rights of all; and love and care for all of creation.
Reaffirming the mission
Today, Pope Francis said, “we want to state that our religious traditions, which have always played a leading role in schooling, from teaching literacy to higher education, reaffirm their mission of integrally educating each individual: head, hands, heart and soul."
He explained, “Let one think what one feels and does; let one feel what one thinks and does; let one do what one feels and thinks: the harmony of human integrity, that is, all its beauty of this harmony.”
The Holy Father concluded his address by inviting participants to pray silently, “asking God to enlighten our minds so that our dialogue will bear fruit and help us courageously to pursue the paths of new educational horizons.”