The Vatican

"Fully human and fully Christian": Pope's invitation to formators

In recent weeks, the Pope has held several audiences at the Vatican with groups and institutions dedicated to civil and religious education. This is the case of the World Union of Catholic Teachers, the Formators of Latin America, the Claretianum Institute and the Nepomuceno College.

Giovanni Tridente-December 9, 2022-Reading time: 5 minutes
Pope trainers

Totally human and totally Christian. This is what, in the opinion of Pope Francis, must characterize today's educator, because "there is no humanism without Christianity". and vice versa. 

A task rooted in today's time and culture, through rich and open personalities, "a task rooted in today's time and culture".able to establish sincere relationships". with their students, understanding "your deepest needs, your questions, your fears, your dreams.".

This is what the Pontiff has confided in recent weeks, when he received in audience at the Vatican the participants in the General Assembly of the World Union of Catholic Teachers (UMEC)accompanied by Cardinal Kevin FarrellPrefect of the Dicastery for the Laity, the Family and Life. In fact, the institution has recently elected its new Executive Committee and is in a phase of relaunching, as the Holy Father himself pointed out during the meeting.

Revitalization opportunities

One of the challenges, in fact, is that of the "generational change, which especially affects leaders".. The Pope invited to consider such a renewal "as the beginning of a new mission, as an opportunity to relaunch with strength". the organization's activities aimed at serving and accompanying Catholic teachers around the world, in a network that seeks to cultivate and maintain their identity as committed Christians in the world. 

It is no coincidence that one of the aspects highlighted by the Pontiff is the ability to "to bear witness - first and foremost by our lives and also by our words - that the Christian faith embraces the whole of humanity". and is a carrier of "light and truth in all areas of existence, without excluding anything, without clipping the wings of young people's dreams, without impoverishing their aspirations.".

The educational mission must be understood, in essence, as an opportunity that leaves its mark on people's lives, from the time they are children and later as adolescents and young adults. "responsibility" and at the same time an opportunity "to introduce them, with wisdom and respect, to the ways of the world and of life."by means of an accompaniment that makes them capable of "to be open to the true, to the beautiful, to the good.".

An art to be cultivated

The ability to educate, obviously, is an art that must be "taught".continually cultivate and grow".by constant updating and avoiding rigidity, knowing full well that "you don't work with objects, you work with subjects!" Therefore, it is not secondary to also develop empathic and communicative skills, attentive to the languages and cultural forms of the present time, in order to share with each other. "the joy of knowledge and the desire for truth.". This does not mean falling into the trap of "ideological colonization" -Pope Francis warned - but to know how to discern what is truly edifying for the human personality.

The whole context of the Global Compact for Educationwhich the Pontiff himself launched three years ago as an opportunity to involve multiple educational institutions with a view to an alliance able to "to form mature people, capable of overcoming fragmentations and contrasts". and, consequently, a more fraternal and peaceful humanity. An appeal that is undoubtedly addressed to Catholic educators, and which today acquires all its urgency and importance given the context of war at the gates of Europe.

Continuing with the theme of formation, a Course for Rectors and Formators of Seminaries in Latin America and the Caribbean was held at the Vatican in early November, at the initiative of the Dicastery for the Clergy. The Pope addressed them from a distance and, instead, gave them a prepared text, inviting them to read it and study it in depth at a later date.

Proximity and proximity

One of the aspects he emphasized in his spontaneous speech is that of the "proximity" and the "closeness"that they are a direct emanation of God, who is always near. "with mercy and tenderness.". This is the same attitude that pastors of souls must also assume, and certainly they must be educated for it throughout the whole process of their formation, evidently already from their seminary years. 

In the text prepared for the occasion, the Pope explained, not by chance, that the formation of the future priests "is at the heart of evangelization", quality, and this cannot be achieved without a "integral anthropological vision". that unites the four dimensions of the seminarian's personality: human, intellectual, spiritual and pastoral, as has already been explained on several occasions and as is stated in the Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis.

From the trainer's point of view, it should not be forgotten that he/she educates "with his life, more than with his words."The "I" is the "I", so he himself must shine with the "I", "I" and "I".human and spiritual harmony".which - according to Pope Francis - is developed and consolidated through "the ability to listen and the art of dialogue, which are naturally anchored in a life of prayer".This is the real area where this capacity "germinates, blooms and bears fruit".

Positive and open influence

Even before the professors and formators of the seminaries, Pope Francis had also addressed the Community of the Institute of Theology 'Claretianum', which for more than 50 years has been dedicated to formation in Consecrated Life as an organism of specialization incorporated into the Pontifical Lateran University and in the spirit of the saintly Spanish archbishop and missionary Antonio Maria Claret.

There are similar centers in Madrid, Manila, Bangalore, Bogota and Abuja, and with their service (study days, congresses, magazines, accompaniment in the chapters of institutes and congregations) in recent decades they have contributed, according to the Holy Father, "to offer a more human face to consecrated life".: "your influence has always been positive, always open, always pushing away fears that were unfounded.".

A true "witness"again- that encourages "the option for the poor and solidarity, fraternity without frontiers and mission in constant outreach".. To be formed in these qualities makes the gift of consecrated life and its mission in the Church and in the world more appreciable, the Pontiff said with conviction.

Cultivating community life

In this line, we must also cultivate, and cultivate well, community life as a true "fidelity in following Jesus according to the spirit of the Founders". and in contrast to the increasingly widespread individualism. This attitude is expressed in the ability to "living interculturality as a path of fraternity and mission". and also in the intergenerational exchange among the members of the community, especially between "the old men" -which "must die dreaming"- y "the youth""that make old people dream" and take their place.

Also to the members of the Claretianum and to the formators of the seminary, the Pope urged the style of closeness, compassion and tenderness, without tiring of "go to the frontiers, even those of thought."thus opening paths and accompanying with audacity. It is fundamental - as St. John Paul II already underlined in Vita consecrata- not to lose sight of theological formation, reflection and study, because this would impoverish the apostolate and make it superficial.

The primacy of conscience

Of the primacy of conscience over any worldly power, the Pope finally spoke to the community of the Collegio Nepomuceno, a Roman pontifical seminary intended primarily for students of Czech nationality, although in recent years it has also been opened to other nationalities, such as Asians and Africans. The idea was linked to the figure and witness of this Saint who gives his name to the College, a Bohemian priest who died a martyr's death for remaining faithful to the secret of confession. This "root of courage and evangelical firmness". -Pope Francis suggested - must become a warning not to fall into the trap of "spiritual worldliness"The worst thing that can happen to the Church and to a consecrated person. 

St. John Nepomucene was also held up as an example for future priests to follow. "build bridges where there are divisions, distances, misunderstandings." and become "humble and courageous instruments of encounter, of dialogue between people and groups that are different and opposed".where you can find a peculiar originality and at the same time a common humanity.

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