Wednesday, May 9, 2012

Address of Pope Benedict XVI on Education

This last weekend, on 5 May, his holiness, Pope Benedict XVI addressed the American Bishops of regions X-XIII (i.e., the bishops of AR, OK, TX, CA, NV, HI, AK, ID, MT, OR, WA, AZ, CO, NM, UT, and WY).  The occasion was their ad limina visit to the Holy See at the Vatican.

In his address, Benedict XVI discussed, in particular, the issue of education, in what was a splendid and timely message.  The full text is to be found here:

Some highlights, which make up a sizable portion of the address, include:
"Important efforts are also being made to preserve the great patrimony of America’s Catholic elementary and high schools, which have been deeply affected by changing demographics and increased costs, while at the same time ensuring that the education they provide remains within the reach of all families, whatever their financial status."

"On the level of higher education...much remains to be done, especially in such basic areas as compliance with the mandate laid down in Canon 812 for those who teach theological disciplines."

"It is no exaggeration to say that providing young people with a sound education in the faith represents the most urgent internal challenge facing the Catholic community in your country."

"It follows that the question of Catholic identity, not least at the university level, entails much more than the teaching of religion or the mere presence of a chaplaincy on campus."

"In every aspect of their education, students need to be encouraged to articulate a vision of the harmony of faith and reason capable of guiding a life-long pursuit of knowledge and virtue. As ever, an essential role in this process is played by teachers who inspire others by their evident love of Christ, their witness of sound devotion and their commitment to that sapientia Christiana which integrates faith and life, intellectual passion and reverence for the splendor of truth both human and divine."

"In a period of great cultural change and societal displacement not unlike our own, Augustine pointed to this intrinsic connection between faith and the human intellectual enterprise by appealing to Plato, who held, he says, that “to love wisdom is to love God” (cf. De Civitate Dei, VIII, 8). The Christian commitment to learning, which gave birth to the medieval universities, was based upon this conviction that the one God, as the source of all truth and goodness, is likewise the source of the intellect’s passionate desire to know and the will’s yearning for fulfilment in love."

"At the present moment of your nation’s history, this is the challenge and opportunity awaiting the entire Catholic community, and it is one which the Church’s educational institutions should be the first to acknowledge and embrace."

What a joy it would be if the oldest Catholic university in the United States, Georgetown, were to take the lead in responding to the Holy Father's call...

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