05/29/2008, 00.00
VATICAN

We are in an educational emergency and credible witnesses are needed, says Pope

Despite and perhaps because of being shielded too much, today’s young people are left alone before the great questions of life, and have no one to turn for fundamental references. A healthy separation of state and Church cannot consider religion as solely a private matter.

Vatican City (AsiaNews) – For Benedict XVI an integral education, provided by credible witnesses and aiming at providing today’s young people with reference points, must be revived. In his opinion this revival is necessary to confront the “educational emergency” that is affecting so many countries. “When in a society and in a culture marked by a pervasive and often aggressive relativism, basic certainties, values and hopes, that give life meaning, seem to falter, parents and teachers can be tempted to give up on their responsibilities; they may even fail to understand what their role and mission are. Thus, despite all the attention they receive and perhaps because they are shielded too much from life’s trials and difficulties, children, teenagers and young people end up feeling alone facing the great questions that inevitably rise within them, lonely vis-à-vis the expectations and challenges they feel looming upon their future.”

The Pope addressed these words to Italy’s Catholic bishops, who gathered in the Vatican for the 58th general assembly.

For the entire Christian community, this “educational emergency takes on a very specific form, that of transmitting the faith to the new generations. On such an issue, especially this one, we must negotiate the obstacles placed in our way by relativism, by a culture that puts God in brackets, discouraging all truly committed choices, in particular definitive choices, privileging instead in life’s various domains self-affirmation and immediate satisfaction.”

What the Church must do then is “give a more pronounced evangelisation profile to the venues and opportunities to meet and be present that we still have.” Thus in addition to parishes, oratories and schools as well as personal relationships, for the Pope great events like this July’s World Youth Day in Sydney, are “the communal, public and festive expression of the expectation, love and trust in Christ and the Church that are still rooted in young people’s minds.”

“Even in the wider social context,” he added, “the current educational emergency raises a demand for an education worthy of its name. In concrete terms, this means that educators must know how to be credible witnesses of those realities and values on which one can build one’s personal existence as well as share projects of life. Coming from society such a demand, which affects kids and young people as well as parents and other educators, is in and of itself the premise and the start of a journey of rediscovery and revival which, in ways adapted to the times, can put the full and integral making of the human person at the centre of its focus.”

Lastly the Pope told Italian bishops what he told their US counterparts. “As announcers of the Gospel and guides to the Catholic community, you are called to exchange ideas in the public arena so as to help shape proper cultural attitudes,” he said. “Within the framework of a healthy and well-understood separation of state and Church, we must however resist any tendency to consider religion, especially Christianity, as a solely a private affair. Viewpoints stemming from our faith can provide instead a fundamental contribution to explaining and solving major social and moral problems.”

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