The United Nations headquarters in New York The United Nations headquarters in New York  (AFP or licensors)

Cardinal Parolin highlights urgent need for Global Educational Pact

Cardinal Pietro Parolin, the Secretary of State of the Holy See, addresses participants in the UN “Transforming Education Summit,” convened in New York to address crucial issues in global education in the wake of the COVID-19 pandemic, and relaunches Pope Francis’ call for a Global Pact for Education.

By Lisa Zengarini

The Covid-19 pandemic and the war in Ukraine, among many other ongoing conflicts in the world, make the need for a global educational pact even more urgent, Cardinal Pietro Parolin told a U.N. gathering on Monday.  “Education will help us to overcome the many existing fractures in our societies, building stronger and more resilient communities, based upon the values of human fraternity and mutual solidarity”, the Vatican Secretary of State said as he addressed policymakers gathered in New York for the “Transforming Education Summit”, a three-day event convened from 16-19 September by UN General Secretary, Antonio Guterres, in response to the current global crisis of education. 

Global crisis of education

Often slow and unseen, this crisis is having a devastating impact on the future of children and youth worldwide. The Summit, therefore, provided a unique opportunity to elevate education to the top of the global political agenda and to mobilize action, solidarity and solutions to recover pandemic-related learning losses and sow the seeds to transform education in a rapidly changing world.

Church commitment to an inclusive education

In his remarks, Cardinal Parolin highlighted the ways in which, for its part, the Catholic Church continues to be actively engaged in this crucial field, with schools and universities throughout the world, enabling more than 70 million youths to receive quality education.

“The Catholic Church, who from her origins has always accompanied evangelization with the transmission of knowledge, culture and science, through monasteries as centres of culture, through countless schools linked to local churches and with the founding of the first universities in the Western world, continues to be engaged in the front line of education with almost 220,000 schools and 1,365 universities scattered throughout all continents, where more than 70 million students, many of whom are non-Catholic and non-Christian, receive quality education.”

Pope Francis' Global Pact for Education

The Secretary of State recalled that in recent years  Pope Francis has encouraged the Church community to renew this dedication to children and youth through his Global Pact for Education, a project that “seeks to involve multiple actors and international stakeholders to rebuild the fragile educational alliance by introducing new generations to the values of respect, dialogue and solidarity through the investment of the best available resources in quality education”.

The idea behind the initiative is that the commitment to an inclusive and integral education as a means of striving for a better world must be shared by all.

Four pillars

To bring about this holistic vision of education, Cardinal Parolin went on to explain, Pope Francis invites all those who work in the field of education to be guided by four pillars: the first principle is that of knowing oneself,  followed closely by that of knowing our neighbour, which encourages us to keep the 'other' in mind, especially the most vulnerable. The third pillar is "to know Creation, inspiring us to care for our common home". The "last but not least" principle, which embodies them all, is that of knowing  the Transcendent. Indeed, “it is this tension toward the destiny and vocation of humanity which gives education its deeper meaning and convinces young people of its value”.

Seven paths

The Pope, continued Cardinal Parolin, also invites educational organizations to review their projects and curricula, undertaking seven paths. These include: making the human person in its value and dignity "the centre of every educational endeavour"; listening to the voices of children and young people in order "to build together a future of justice, peace and a dignified life for every person"; encouraging the full participation of girls and young women in education; considering "the family as the first and essential place of education"; educating on the need for acceptance and openness to the most vulnerable; finding new ways of understanding the economy, politics, growth and progress that stand at the service of the human family, within the context of an integral ecology; and, finally, safeguarding our common home.

Bringing his address to an end, Cardinal Parolin reiterated the importance of a shared effort in this field and Pope Francis’ encouragement not to fear changes “looking to the future with hope".

“The Pope has invited everyone, (young people, teachers, political leaders, and civil society) to be protagonists of this alliance, making a personal and societal commitment to cultivate together the dream of a humanism in solidarity, responding to human expectations and God’s plan.”

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20 September 2022, 16:18