Pope's teachings

Dreams of evangelization and educational commitment

Two teachings stand out among those that Francis has recently offered us: the exhortation Dear Amazonia, which constitutes his contribution to the synodal process on that region, and his observations on the Global Education Pact (Instrumentum laboris, 2020), in connection with the World Education Day he has called for May. 

Ramiro Pellitero-March 1, 2020-Reading time: 4 minutes

The Apostolic Exhortation Dear Amazonia (2-II-2020) is a letter full of affection and challenges. From the beginning, Francis declares the spotlight that illuminates and guides him: "All that the Church offers must be incarnated in an original way in every part of the world, so that the Bride of Christ may acquire multiform faces that better manifest the inexhaustible richness of grace." (n. 6). 

Impregnated with affection and challenges

From there, he sets out his four "dreams" (parallel to the "diagnostics" of the synod) for Amazonia, described in the respective chapters. 

1. The social dreamThe promotion of the rights of the poorest, of the last. It is necessary to turn "indignation", in the face of exploitation and crimes, not into hatred, but into the restoration of "dignity"; on the promotion of the rights of the poorest, of the last. the sense of fraternity and communion which springs especially from faith in Christ; in the culture of encounter and social dialogue, especially with the poorest; and in harmony with the earth and the surrounding nature.

2) The cultural dream It is about preserving the beauty that shines in cultures and, therefore, intercultural dialogue. Inculturation, the work of the Gospel, is a educational task, whose meaning is always "cultivate without uprooting, grow without weakening identity, promote without invading". (n. 28). 

Attention, for this purpose, to poets, that help to preserve and communicate the values of cultures to one another. Attention should also be paid to the concrete issues that intercultural dialogue raises in relation to families, the media and the meaning of "quality of life". 

3. The ecological dream leads to respect and care for the earth. A dream that must be based on "human ecology" and openness to God, the author of nature. For this reason, only a culture that fosters the contemplation of beauty - which in these peoples comes from ancient times - can help us to listen to the cry of the earth and its creatures. This in turn requires a "social ecology", which governments must promote with regulations and information. 

For the ecological dream to become a reality - the document points out - it is necessary to have a certain education of "ecological habits": "There will not be a healthy and sustainable ecology, capable of transforming something, if people do not change, if they are not stimulated to opt for another lifestyle, less voracious, more serene, more respectful, less anxious, more fraternal." (n. 58). 

In this sense, our consumerist and individualistic culture must also be evangelized, and thoroughly. 

4) Finally, the ecclesial dreambecause the Church and the Gospel message are incarnated in all cultures for the good of all. It is important to realize that not only individuals but cultures as such are active protagonists of evangelization, insofar as they are mediators of authentically human values that are open to faith (cf. n. 67). 

For this reason, inculturation of the Gospel involves recognize the wisdom of cultures, also from pre-Columbian cultures. Requires respect the symbols that open them to transcendence, without labeling them as idolatry, superstition or paganism, even if they manifest an imperfect, partial or mistaken religiosity. Supposes appreciate many of its traditional valuesThe values of the Church, in relation to God, the earth, the family, work, worship, and the "beyond". These are values that are hard to accept for those of us who are immersed in late or liquid modernity; but they can help us," says Francis, "to overcome our anxious consumerism and our urban isolation. 

In this line, the Pope hopes that the centrality of the Eucharist, the recourse to prayer and coexistence - especially at the ecumenical and interreligious level - together with the common work in favor of the most disadvantaged, will prevent us from being devoured. "earthly immanence, spiritual emptiness, comfortable egocentrism, consumerist and self-destructive individualism." (n. 108). 

Francis emphasizes the important contribution of women in the Church and in society. He points out the need to develop different ecclesial services, counting on the generosity of all and according to the condition and gifts of each Christian: laity, sacred ministers and religious. And concludes by invoking the protection of Mary, Mother of the Amazon.

Commitment and educational passion

In the current situation, Francis wishes to promote education as a means to task, art and dynamic realitywith dimensions individual and social. His address to the Congregation for Catholic Education (20-II-2020) first points out four features of the educational movement pointing out how they can be promoted today.

1) Education is a "green movement" in which four personal levels can be distinguished: the relationship of the person with God (spiritual level), with oneself (internal level), with others and (solidarity level) with all other beings, especially living beings (natural level). This must be translated into the corresponding pedagogical itineraries, as the last part of the encyclical points out Laudato si' (24-V-2015).

2) Education as "inclusive movement" should be explicitly addressed today to all the "excluded". And this is "an integral part of the Christian salvific message". "Today" -Francisco observes. "it is necessary to accelerate this inclusive movement of education to stop the culture of discarding, originated by the rejection of fraternity as a constitutive element of humanity."

3) Education as a "peace movement", and bearer of peace, is opposed to the "egolatry", that generates fractures and oppositions at all levels, because it is afraid of diversity and differences. Education must teach that "Diversities do not hinder unity; indeed, they are indispensable for the richness of one's own identity and that of all". Indeed, and a key element to this is teaching to discern y understand

4) Education as "equipment movement" requires the participation of many people: families, teachers, civil and religious institutions, etc. But this team movement," Francis laments, "has long since entered into crisis. And that is why we need to promote a "global education pact". between all those involved in education. The purpose is clear: "To rekindle the commitment for and with the young generations, renewing the passion for a more open and inclusive education, capable of patient listening, constructive dialogue and mutual understanding." (Message for the launch of the Education Pact, 12-IX-2019).

Global Education Pact

In the second part of his address, the Pope points out. other current challenges of the "educational pact": attitudes, method, concrete paths.

1) First of all, it is necessary to courage: "The courage to place the person at the center [...]. The courage to invest the best energies [...]. The courage to train available people who put themselves at the service of the community." (ibid.). This courage -he adds realistically- to pay educators well.

2) Secondly, the need for an education that is interdisciplinary y transdisciplinary (cfr. Const. ap. Veritatis gaudiumProemio, 4c), capable of addressing the unity of knowledge, as well as the current fragmentation of many studies, especially in the face of the "ambiguous, conflicting or relativistic pluralism of convictions and cultural choices". (Ibid.).

3) Finally, he formulates four specific requests for the coming years: the drafting of a Directory on this subject; the establishment of a Observatory world; the updating of ecclesiastical studies; the drive to "university pastoral work as an instrument of new evangelization"..

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