Rome (Monday, January 18, 2016, Gaudium Press) “Educating today and tomorrow: a renewing passion” was the title of the World Congress organized by the Congregation for Catholic Education to commemorate the 50th anniversary of “Gravissimum educationis”, the Vatican Council II Declaration on Christian education, and the 25th of “Ex corde Ecclesiae (Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities). The event took place in Rome from 18 to 21 November 2015.
The Congress was chaired by Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect of the Congregation for Education. Among the participants, more than 2,200 in number, was Bishop Carlos Lema Garcia, Episcopal Vicar for Catholic Education of the Diocese of Sao Paulo, Brazil. He reports that a video was showed at the congress on the Pakistani young girl Malala Yousafzai, an activist for female education and the youngest-ever Nobel Prize laureate. On 9 October 2012, a Taliban gunman shot Malala as she rode home on a bus after taking an exam in Pakistan’s Swat Valley. The masked gunman shouted “Which one of you is Malala? Speak up, otherwise I will shoot you all”, and, on her being identified, shot at her. She was hit with one bullet, which went through her head, neck, and ended in her shoulder. Two other girls were also wounded in the shooting: Kainat Riaz and Shazia Ramzan, both of whom were stable enough to speak to reporters and provide details of the attack.
At the UN she is known for having said: “one child, one teacher, one book and one pen can change the world”. Bishop Lema Garcia comments: “Malala said a great truth, if we want to change the world we must invest more and more in education of the youngest generations. But we have to aim for a good quality education, which promotes a holistic formation”.
The congress concluded at the Paul VI Hall where Pope Francis received the participant. The Pope heard testimonies from Catholic schools and universities from around the world, and answered three questions. The first was on how educational institutions, present in a diverse range of nations, can be truly Christian. “It is not possible to speak of Catholic education without speaking of humanity, as Catholic identity is God made man”, Francis answered. “Going ahead in terms of attitudes, full human values, opens the door to the seed of Christianity. Faith then follows. Educating in a Christian fashion is not only about catechesis: this is just a part. … It involves educating the young and children in human values in all realities, and one of these is transcendence. … For me, the greatest crisis in education, from a Christian perspective, is closure to transcendence. We are not open to transcendence. It is necessary to prepare hearts so that the Lord manifests Himself”.
In response to the second question, on the meaning of the culture of encounter for all people involved in the promotion of education, Francis said, “It means taking risks. An educator who does not take risks is not able to educate. A father and mother who do not risk do not educate their children well. Risking in a reasoned way. What does this mean? It means learning to walk. The true educator must teach managed and reasonable risk”.
The final question related to the future challenges posed to the educator by the current moments of war, which, the Pope said, required them to become patient builders of peace. “The greatest failure of an educator is to educate ‘behind walls’. … The walls of a selective culture, the walls of a culture of safety, the walls of a well-off social sector that does not move ahead”. He concluded by encouraging all educators to think about how they can bring mercy into the field of education. “How can we ensure that the Father’s Love, specially emphasised in this Year of Mercy, finds its way into our educational work?”.
Source: “O Sao Paulo” and VIS