Pope Francis meets with the Blanquerna Foundation in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace Pope Francis meets with the Blanquerna Foundation in the Vatican's Apostolic Palace  (Vatican Media)

Pope: Education must form people, not offer impossible ideals

Pope Francis meets with members of the Blanquerna Foundation from Barcelona, and urges Catholic universities to provide education that helps people form their minds and hearts, without seeking to create “illusory replicas of impossible ideals.”

By Devin Watkins

“How much pain and frustration are produced by the unattainable stereotypes that markets and pressure groups try to impose on us.”

Pope Francis offered that analysis of modern life on Friday as he met with members of the Blanquerna Foundation at the Ramon Llull University, in the Spanish city of Barcelona.

In his address, the Pope noted the foundation’s name—Blanquerna—was drawn from a literary character created by Blessed Ramon Llull, a 13th-14th century philosopher and theologian.

Blessed Ramon Llull employed the character to give a “precise description of his time,” said the Pope, adding that his pedagogy continues to uphold a model of Christian life.

The Holy Father said Blessed Llull moved away from the “fantastic heros who seek to evade our reality” and instead proposed “simple and natural life models, in which one can serve the Lord and be happy.”

Christian path is call, not a career

Pope Francis noted that young people today, as in the 13th century, must overcome many obstacles to discover God’s plan for them.

“Your foundation, and the entire Ramon Llull University, by taking this name, assumes this exciting commitment,” he said.

The Blanquerna Foundation, he added, works to help the family rediscover its original vocation in society, offer young people different paths of life and overcome challenges, and teach society that the path of a Christian hero is “not marked by careerism but is a response to a call.”

The Pope invited university professors to help students realize that even when they have achieved their goals, they must still “strive for an encounter with the Lord and dedicate themselves fully to service of God.”

Educate based on analysis of reality, not escapism

The Holy Father urged the Blanquerna Foundation to educate, “with a contemporary, modern, agile, pedagogical language, based on a precise analysis of reality.”

However, he added, education must “always bear in mind that we form full men and women, not illusory replicas of impossible ideals.”

The goal of education, said the Pope, is to form “holistic people who try to give the best of themselves in the service to which God calls them, knowing that they are pilgrims, that in reality everything is a path towards a goal that surpasses this reality, the meeting of the friend with the beloved, in that love poured into our hearts that gives us the strength to move forward.”

Illuminating presence of Jesus in education

In conclusion, Pope Francis expressed his hope that Catholic universities might “illuminate the lives of your students with the presence of Jesus.”

“May this certainty,” he prayed, “make them aware of their dignity as friends, of God and other people, and that they are capable of dispelling the darkness that covers this world estranged from its true essence.”

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03 May 2024, 11:45