London (AsiaNews) - The formation of the person must be the goal of a good school and in particular the Catholic school, because " The world needs good scientists, but a scientific outlook becomes dangerously narrow if it ignores the religious or ethical dimension of life, just as religion becomes narrow if it rejects the legitimate contribution of science to our understanding of the world".
Benedict XVI’s first appointment in London was dedicated to Catholic schools, especially its students. He arrived in the capital last night, after the first day of a visit that he is living "with joy", as said Director of the Holy See Press Office, Father Federico Lombardi commented.
About 4 thousand students from Catholic institutions in the Kingdom were gathered at St Mary's University College Twickenham. But all Catholic schools in England, Wales and Scotland were linked via Internet to follow the event live. A smiling Benedict XVI said that "it is not often that a Pope, or indeed anyone else, has the opportunity to speak to the students of all the Catholic schools of England, Wales and Scotland at the same time."
A festive gathering with singing, music and testimonies in two parts: first, in the chapel of the college with about 300 religious active in education, also the education minister Nick Gibb, the second in the sports field with the students.
In both meetings, Benedict XVI dedicated his greetings to the theme, one that is dear to him, of the formation of the whole person. "As you know – he told the religious - As you know, the task of a teacher is not simply to impart information or to provide training in skills intended to deliver some economic benefit to society; education is not and must never be considered as purely utilitarian. It is about forming the human person, equipping him or her to live life to the full – in short it is about imparting wisdom. And true wisdom is inseparable from knowledge of the Creator, for “both we and our words are in his hand, as are all understanding and skill in crafts” (Wis 7:16)".
"The presence of religious in Catholic schools – he then added - is a powerful reminder of the much-discussed Catholic ethos that needs to inform every aspect of school life. This extends far beyond the self-evident requirement that the content of the teaching should always be in conformity with Church doctrine. It means that the life of faith needs to be the driving force behind every activity in the school, so that the Church’s mission may be served effectively, and the young people may discover the joy of entering into Christ’s “being for others” (Spe Salvi, 28).
This indeed was the heart of his address to the students. "I hope - they said - I hope that among those of you listening to me today there are some of the future saints of the twenty-first century. What God wants most of all for each one of you is that you should become holy. He loves you much more than you could ever begin to imagine, and he wants the very best for you. And by far the best thing for you is to grow in holiness".
“When I invite you to become saints, I am asking you not to be content with second best. I am asking you not to pursue one limited goal and ignore all the others. Having money makes it possible to be generous and to do good in the world, but on its own, it is not enough to make us happy. Being highly skilled in some activity or profession is good, but it will not satisfy us unless we aim for something greater still. It might make us famous, but it will not make us happy. Happiness is something we all want, but one of the great tragedies in this world is that so many people never find it, because they look for it in the wrong places. The key to it is very simple – true happiness is to be found in God. We need to have the courage to place our deepest hopes in God alone, not in money, in a career, in worldly success, or in our relationships with others, but in God. Only he can satisfy the deepest needs of our hearts”.
“As you move higher up the school, you have to make choices regarding the subjects you study, you begin to specialize with a view to what you are going to do later on in life. That is right and proper. But always remember that every subject you study is part of a bigger picture. Never allow yourselves to become narrow. The world needs good scientists, but a scientific outlook becomes dangerously narrow if it ignores the religious or ethical dimension of life, just as religion becomes narrow if it rejects the legitimate contribution of science to our understanding of the world. We need good historians and philosophers and economists, but if the account they give of human life within their particular field is too narrowly focused, they can lead us seriously astray. A good school provides a rounded education for the whole person. And a good Catholic school, over and above this, should help all its students to become saints”.