09/22/2017, 18.38
VATICAN

‘Educating to fraternal humanism’ 60 million students in Catholic schools and universities

This is the goal of a document released 50 years after the encyclical ‘Populorum progressio’, which was presented today in the Vatican. Humanising education and promoting a culture of meeting and dialogue are urgent and necessary.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – The Congregation for Catholic Education and the Pontifical Foundation Gravissimum educationis presented today ‘Educating to Fraternal Humanism’, a document containing guidelines for more than 60 million students in 215,000 Catholic schools and 1,760 Catholic universities. The event was held in the Vatican on the 50th anniversary of the encyclical Populorum progressio.

The document, said Card Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, "analyses current scenarios, underlines what is urgent and necessary to humanise education, by favouring a culture of encounter and dialogue. This is possible, first of all, by globalising hope guided by the message of salvation and love of the Christian revelation. The solidarity and brotherhood that arise from this personal and social transformation will be the basis for an inclusive process that can influence lifestyles and economic and environmental paradigms. Catholic schools and universities around the world can actively contribute to this shared effort through an education offer able of integrating science and conscience."

In his address, the cardinal also provided a portrait of Catholic educational institutions. "In terms of numbers, Africa leads with 24 million students, followed by the Americas with about 12 million, Asia with more than 13 million, Europe with about 8,600,000, and Oceania with 1,200 .000. Despite a decline in some Western countries, there has been a steady increase in enrolment worldwide in recent years. In addition to this wealth of educational experiences, there are approximately 1,800 Catholic universities and about 500 ecclesiastical faculties, some of which have a history of several centuries whilst others are recent."

The goal of the document, presented by Mgr Angelo Vincenzo Zani, secretary of the Congregation, is first to "update the educational pact between generations, starting from the family to the entire social body. In addition, humanising education means taking care of the results of the educational service by taking into account the overall picture of the personal, moral, and social attitudes of all the parties involved in the educational process – teachers, students, local institutions, meeting places and spaces – for an education that is not selective but open to solidarity and sharing (educating the educators).”

"Another very important guideline in the culture of the 21st century, in a society in which people of different traditions, cultures and religions live together, is to promote an education based on the development of a culture of dialogue, which Pope Francis constantly mentioned (from the culture of waste to the culture of dialogue).”

“True dialogue,” said Mgr Zani, “takes place within an ethical framework of requirements and attitudes for education, as well as social goals whose ethical bases are freedom and equality, not so much or only as announced values, but as deeds that link ethical principles with really fulfilled social and civic choices.

"Projects in the education in fraternal humanism aim at some fundamental goals. First and foremost, its main goal and priority is not the selection of the ruling classes, but inclusion, which allows every citizen to feel actively involved in the building of fraternal humanism, starting from a framework of shared ethical requests and norms.”

In order to influence lifestyles and the very existence of future generations, we must "build the common good that involves not only the people of today.” Indeed, “This requires an education in fraternal humanism based on intergenerational ethics. [. . .] This means that in schools, and even more so in universities, it is necessary to provide the skills necessary to make decisive choices for the balance of human-social systems (such as democracy), natural and environmental systems (like ecology . . .) to ensure the needs of future generations."

The third mission of the university, in addition to teaching and research, is the dimension of openness to society and its problems.

Finally, to promote fraternal humanism that is incisive in the face of today's emergencies, "institutions must not act in a scattered or isolated manner. They must promote joint programmes. Only with the logic of networks of cooperation at the educational, school, academic and research levels can inclusive modes be activated so as to affect the cultural and social needs of the current context.”

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