A Catholic school in the US during the COVID-19 pandemic A Catholic school in the US during the COVID-19 pandemic 

Pope: Catholic educators on a common project at the service of humanity

Pope Francis sends a message to the Secretary General of the International Office of Catholic Education upholding the role of Catholic education to promote dialogue in the service of humanity.

By Linda Bordoni

Catholic education programmes and resources must give voice to a Word that surpasses and transcends us, Pope Francis writes in a message to a conference held by the International Office of Catholic Education (OIEC), and must form individuals in their integrity, creating bridges of dialogue between people of all faiths.

The message was addressed to Philippe Richard, Secretary General of the OIEC that is meeting in Marseille, France, to discuss the role of Catholic educators in restoring the fabric of relationships for the sake of a more fraternal humanity.

Describing education as an essential part of the life of the Church, the Pope said that education is a duty and a challenge, and for the Christian, “it is also a way of participating in the prophetic role that Jesus left to his Church.”

Giving voice to the Lord's Word

“When we approach education we cannot do so thinking of something merely human, focusing the question on programmes, training, resources, areas of reception, since the Christian vocation asks us to give voice to a Word that is not ours, that surpasses us, that transcends us,” he said.

He invited teachers and those who draw up educational programmes to always be attentive to the formation of individuals in their integrity, which he explained, means not only providing tools to acquire knowledge, “but also to know oneself and to recognise oneself as a being capable of loving and being loved.”

He highlighted the fact that it is not about “proselytizing” or excluding from our schools those who do not think as we do.

“The school as a whole should be configured as a lesson in life in which different elements are integrated, in close collaboration with other bodies, such as the family or society.”

In this way, the Pope continued, the identity of our schools will succeed “in making itself present and in entering into dialogue, in being a word that can, at the same time, be a challenge to people of faith and build bridges of dialogue with non-believers.”

In order to do this, he said, Catholics involved in education must look to how Jesus was sent and how He sent His disciples.

“How Jesus taught and how He asks [His disciples] to teach.”

His sending, Pope Francis said, is both an act of love and an act of obedience, so that, according to their own vocation, each disciple may make transparent the message He wants to convey.


Thus, the first characteristic is born of communion.

“Our classes are not monads, our schools are not watertight compartments.”

Noting that in communion with God, we are “sent” on a common project at the service of humanity, the Pope reminded educators to work together for the common good, “despite our differences.”

To the ends of the earth

The second characteristic, he continued, is that “we are on the way, on the move.”

Jesus, he said, is always walking, and he exhorts his disciples to do the same, even commands them to go ahead of him, reaching out to the ends of the earth.

“In this way, the Catholic school in its initiatives must embrace social problems, locally and universally, it must learn and, in this learning, teach to open the mind to new situations and new concepts, to walk together without excluding anyone, to establish points of encounter and to adapt the language so that it is capable of capturing the attention of those who are furthest away,” he said.

Pope Francis concluded his message by reminding all those engaged in Catholic education to grow in wisdom and to be aware that this is work that cannot be done without God's help, without the support of all and with the strength of the Spirit of the Risen Lord.

“May He enlighten your work and grant you that science which rises from human realities to reach the sublime knowledge of God.”

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01 December 2022, 17:25