Teaching the new subject of fraternity

The last "prayer request" the Holy Father dedicated to educators, those who every day have in their hands the possibility of carrying out "an act of love that illuminates the path" of the youngest and who, with their knowledge, commitment and joy in communicating it, can be true "creators of community", credible witnesses.

Giovanni Tridente-January 23, 2023-Reading time: 2 minutes

Photo: Classroom in Texas ©CNS photo/James Ramos, Texas Catholic Herald

The theme of education - and of educators - and their contribution to the improvement of society has gained prominence in recent weeks thanks to the prayer intention that Pope Francis has entrusted to the whole Church for the month of January through the Pope's Worldwide Prayer Network.

With this initiative, through a monthly video - "The Pope's Video" - the Pontiff launches a concrete message on one of the realities that in our days need the accompaniment and closeness of all the faithful, who, for this reason, are called to pray with this specific intention during the entire calendar month in which the video is launched.

A new subject

To educators the Pope addressed an original proposal: "to add a new subject to the teaching of fraternity", managing to combine and harmonize well "the three languages: that of the head, that of the heart and that of the hands" in order to be listened to with much more attention by the young generations.

A reference he had already made last year, when he addressed a delegation of the Global Researchers Advancing Catholic Education Project explained that educational harmony starts from "thinking what I feel and do", "feeling what I think and do", "doing what I feel and think".

Fraternity is, in fact, a central theme of this pontificate, which evidently takes into account the urgency of redirecting our world overshadowed by conflicts of all kinds, starting with those we carry within and which we externalize also with the people closest to us, up to armed wars such as the one that has been going on for a year in Ukraine.

Prophetic vision

Evidently, Pope Francis had long been seeing the future - perhaps prophetically - and it is no coincidence that three years ago he already decided to write and deliver to the whole Church Fratelli Tuttihis third encyclical. A text that in turn had had as its fundamental premise the Document on Human Fraternity for World Peace and Common Coexistencesigned even a year earlier, on February 4, 2019, in Abu Dhabi with Grand Imam Ahmad Al-Tayyeb.

This time the appeal is to educators - from those who dedicate their profession to direct contact with future generations, but also to those who educate as parents, grandparents or siblings - to unite their efforts to restore peace to the world, starting with a just understanding of human coexistence "that overcomes misunderstandings and prevents conflicts," as Pope Francis himself writes in the encyclical.

100 million formal educators

According to data from the World Prayer Network itself, there are almost 100 million "formal educators" in the world who teach in primary and secondary schools or university institutes, but it is a function that is obviously also present in many other areas of daily life. Think of religious leaders, pastors, catechists, community leaders, parents, volunteers in non-profit organizations, sports coaches, business consultants....

Obviously, education must also be accompanied by a great capacity to listen and animated by the culture of encounter, because at the end of the day we must become capable of "welcoming the other as he is, not as I want him to be, as he is, and without judging or condemning anyone," as Francis said in 2021 in an audience with representatives of various religions received at the Vatican.

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