The Holy See Press Office published on March 29 an instruction from the Congregation for Catholic Education entitled “The identity of the Catholic school for a culture of dialogue.”
The text dated January 25, 2022, feast of the conversion of Saint Paul the Apostle, was signed by the prefect, Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi; and the secretary of the same dicastery, Bishop Angelo Vincenzo Zani.
With this new instruction on the Catholic identity of educational institutions, the dicastery “intends to offer, in a spirit of service, a contribution to reflection and some guidelines to help share the missionary transformation of the Church, because it is vital that today the Church go out and announce the Gospel to everyone, in all places, on all occasions, without delay, without disgust and without fear.”
“A great responsibility of the Catholic school is witness. The Christian presence in the multiform reality of different cultures must be shown and demonstrated, that is, it must be made visible, capable of being found, and it must be a conscious attitude. Today, due to the advanced process of secularization, the Catholic school is in a missionary situation, even in countries with an ancient Christian tradition”, he pointed out.
In this line, the Catholic school “is called to a commitment to witness through an educational project clearly inspired by the Gospel”.
“The school, including the Catholic one, does not ask for adherence to the faith; but it can prepare it”, because “through the educational project it is possible to create the conditions for the person to develop the ability to search and guide him to discover the mystery of his own being and of the reality that surrounds him, until he reaches the threshold of Faith. Then, to those who decide to go beyond it, the necessary means are offered to continue deepening the experience of faith”, he affirmed.
Likewise, he underlined that Pope Francis, when dealing with the encounter between faith, reason and science, has explained that “Catholic schools, which always try to combine the educational task with the explicit proclamation of the Gospel, constitute a very valuable contribution to the evangelization of culture, even in countries and cities where an adverse situation stimulates us to use our creativity to find the right paths”.
For this reason, the Vatican document has requested the collaboration of students, parents, teachers, non-teaching staff and the managing entity in the educational mission, since they are responsible subjects “who with their work promote and verify educational projects, inspired by the Church’s doctrine on education, act respectively at various levels: at the level of the school itself, at the level of charismatic initiatives in the People of God, at the level of the ecclesiastical hierarchy”.
In addition, the instruction, starting “from the essential criteria of the Catholic identity of schools, aims to accompany their renewal to respond to the new challenges that, in the change of time, the world poses to the Church, mother and teacher”.
In this sense, the document also cited Saint John Paul II to highlight the importance of identity in obedience to a transcendent truth. “If there is no transcendent truth, with whose obedience man achieves his full identity, there is also no sure principle that guarantees fair relations between men: the interests of class, group or nation, inevitably oppose each other”, he pointed out. .
“If the transcendent truth is not recognized, the force of power triumphs, and each one tends to use to the extreme the means available to him to impose his own interest or his own opinion, without respecting the rights of others. […] The root of modern totalitarianism must be seen, therefore, in the denial of the transcendent dignity of the human person, the visible image of the invisible God and, precisely for this reason, the natural subject of rights that no one can violate: neither the individual, the group , social class, or the nation or the state. The majority of a social body cannot do it either, putting itself against the minority”, affirmed Saint John Paul II.
Finally, the Congregation for Catholic Education thanked “for the care and effort of all the people involved in educational institutions and hopes that the Catholic identity profile of the educational project will contribute to the realization of a global educational pact to rekindle the commitment by and with the young generations”.