“Today, ideological colonization destroys the human personality and, when it enters education, it causes disasters,” Francis warned the World Union of Catholic Teachers.
Pope Francis met, on Saturday, with the members of the World Union of Catholic Teachers in the Vatican (WUCT for its acronym in English), on the occasion of its General Assembly in Rome, which will elect the new Executive Committee.
The WUCT was established in 1951, as a network that brings together Catholic teachers’ associations with the aim of coordinating their study and research work, to bring the teachings of the Church to the world of education and school. Its priorities are to create an educational system that involves parents, teachers and students, in order to give everyone the due responsibility within the educational community.
“Collaborators of the Pope”
In his speech, Pope Francis thanked the members of the outgoing Executive Committee for their “faithful and generous service” in recent years, and encouraged the organization to “take a positive view” of the many challenges it faces today, including that of “generational change”, which especially affects leadership.
He recalled that the mission of the members of the Union, as “collaborators of the Pope”, is to encourage and motivate Catholic teachers to be fully aware of their important mission as educators and witnesses of the faith, individually or within groups of colleagues.
“In this way -he pointed out- they make present in the academic world the service of the Church of supporting Catholic teachers in the faith, so that they can carry out their work and give testimony in the best possible way, in often complex situations in which relational and institutional levels.
Noting that the presence of Christian educators in school communities is “of vital importance”, the Holy Father recalled that Christian teachers are called to be “fully human and completely Christian”. Therefore, they “should not be spiritualistic and ‘otherworldly,'” but rather “rooted in their own time and culture,” and “capable of understanding students’ deepest needs, questions, fears, and dreams.”
“There is no humanism without Christianity. And there is no Christianity without humanism.
At the same time, the Pope continued, it is important that Catholic teachers be able to bear witness with their lives and words that the Christian faith encompasses the entire human experience, “without clipping the wings of the dreams of young people and without impoverishing their aspirations.” ”.
Indeed, the Pope recalled that “in the tradition of the Church, the education of young people has always had as its goal the integral formation of each human person, in all its dimensions.”
Francis also emphasized the “great responsibility” of teachers who are in a position to “leave a mark, for better or worse,” on the lives of children, adolescents and young people entrusted to them.
“All of us know from personal experience how important it is to have good teachers and wise educators in our formative years!”
This also requires the ability of educators to continually reassess their own motivations and methods: “You can’t be rigid,” because “rigidity destroys education,” he insisted.
Ideological colonization in education causes disasters
The task of the WUTC, the Pope continued, is therefore “to help teachers maintain their desire to grow together with their students, to find the most effective ways of transmitting the joy of learning and the desire for truth, using a language and cultural forms appropriate to today’s youth”.
At the same time, the pontiff highlighted the need to help Catholic teachers to “carefully discern the novelties that make us grow from the ideologization” of education, warning against ideological colonization.
“Today, ideological colonization destroys the human personality and, when it enters education, it causes disasters.”
Promote awareness of the Global Compact on Education
At the end of his speech, Pope Francis invited the WUTC to help raise awareness among Catholic teachers about the Global Compact on Education, the project he launched in 2019 “to engage multiple actors and stakeholders at the international level, to rebuild the fragile alliance education, presenting to the new generations the values of respect, dialogue and solidarity, through the investment of the best available resources in a quality education.
In closing, the Holy Father encouraged the WUTC to look to the future with hope and give new impetus to the organization’s mission.+
Pope Francis meeting members of the World Union of Catholic Teachers (Vatican Media)