Pope Francis reportedly emphasized the importance of education in a recent address to leaders of religious orders, declaring, “The work of education is a mission that is key, key, key.”
The pope’s address to the 82nd General Assembly of the International Union of Superiors General of men's religious orders was recently published by La Civila Cattolica and discussed widely, because of his comments on children of homosexual parents. But the address also included important comments on the importance of faithful Catholic education.
According to the LaCivila Cattolica translation, Pope Francis reportedly said educators must "convey understanding, convey ways of doing things, convey values. Faith is conveyed through these. The educator should be up to being a person who educates, he or she should consider how to proclaim Jesus Christ to a generation that is changing."
The Holy Father pointed to the fact that many children today are growing up in difficult situations, such as with separated parents or even same-sex parents.
"I remember the case of a very sad little girl who finally confessed to her teacher the reason she felt that way: 'my mom's girlfriend doesn't like me,'" Pope Francis reportedly said.
He reminded his listeners that the rapidly changing culture presents Catholic educators with new challenges. “How do we talk about Christ to these boys and girls?” he reportedly asked. “How do we talk about Christ to a generation that is changing?"
The discussion of education was presented in the broader context of religious men giving “witness,” especially to young people.
“Those who work with youth cannot be content with simply saying things that are too tidy and structured, as in a tract; these things go in one ear and out the other of young people. We need a new language, a new way of saying things. Today God asks this of us: to leave the nest which encloses us in order to be sent,” the Holy Father reportedly said.
He later added: “It is important to recall that the language of young people in formation today is different from that in the past: we are living through an epochal change. Formation is a work of art, not a police action. We must form their hearts. Otherwise we are creating little monsters. And then these little monsters mold the People of God. This really gives me goose bumps.”
This is not the first time Pope Francis has stressed the importance of Catholic education. In his apostolic exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, Pope Francis called on schools and universities to commit to catechesis and evangelization and reject the forces of secularization.
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