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80,000 expected to rally for education at Vatican

.- Education is important to the Catholic Church in Italy and many want to demonstrate that. That’s why tens of thousands, particularly students, teachers and Catholic Action leaders are expected to turn out in St. Peter's Square for a rally Oct. 30. The Church association Italian Catholic Action is promoting the event to draw attention to the importance of education in the formation of young people and their future.

Organizers want children and young people to feel called to responsibility in the Church and in the public life of Italian society.

Father Vito Piccinonna, an Italian Action official, told the Italian bishops' news agency that addressing the challenge for young people today requires individual attention and tenderness, but also assistance in making children "not just big in age, but also in wisdom and grace."

He called the Oct. 30 meeting "a moment of listening, prayer and celebration" for all.

Father Piccinonna said the purpose of the demonstration is to bring children, parents, teachers, priests, bishops and others together to show a "company of life and faith" in support of better education.

Organizers expect an appearance from Pope Benedict XVI. This will "make this 'company' truly solid," Father Piccinonna said.

The Catholic Action initiative has special significance as it takes place in the first year of a decade-long effort by the Italian bishops to focus greater national attention on education in the country.

In a speech to the nation’s bishops in September, Cardinal Angelo Bagnasco of Genoa, head of the bishops conference, said the "spirit of the times" in education is "most worrying." Education in Italy, he said, faces an "emergency" that is "capable of jeopardizing the balance of society and concrete possibilities of its progress."

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