Today the Pope received participants of the plenary assembly of the Congregation for Catholic Education and advised them that in their work of reform, they must seek to effectively communicate the Truth in the modern world.
The Holy Father told the gathered academics that it is entirely appropriate that they should consider how Catholic institutions can “incisively and effectively” spread the Gospel.
Faced with an educational crisis, “schools must ask themselves about the mission they are called to undertake in the modern social environment,” the Pope said. Catholic schools, “though open to everyone and respecting the identity of each, cannot but present their own educational, human and Christian perspective,” the Pontiff explained.
The modern context of global society presents Catholic institutions with a “coming together of religions and cultures in the joint search for truth”. This means, "not excluding anyone in the name of their cultural or religious background,” and on the other hand, “not stopping at the mere recognition” of this cultural or religious difference, Benedict XVI reflected.
The Pope also provided the educators with specific recommendations for reform of the ecclesiastical study of philosophy and theology. In the field of philosophy, he asked that changes be made so that the “metaphysical and wisdom-related dimensions of philosophy” are highlighted. “The ecclesiastical disciplines”, he added, “especially theology, are today subjected to new interrogations in a world tempted, on the one hand, by a rationalism which follows a false idea of freedom unfettered by any religious references and, on the other, by various forms of fundamentalism which, with their incitement to violence and fanaticism, falsify the true essence of religion.”
Pope Benedict also raised the possibility of “examining the suitability of reforming the 1979 Apostolic Constitution ‘Sapientia christina’, which serves as the basis upon which to formulate criteria to assess the quality of those institutions, an assessment required by the Bologna Process of which the Holy See has been a member since 2003.
The Pope went on to refer to another theme being examined by the plenary assembly, that of reforming the document “Ratio fundamentalis institutionis sacerdotalis” for seminaries, issued in 1970 and updated in 1985. Any reform, said the Pope, has to take into consideration the situation within the Church as a whole. He also added that, “The formation of future priests must, furthermore, offer them guidance and help to enter into dialogue with contemporary culture.”
The formation of future priests in the human and cultural dimensions must be “significantly reinforced and sustained also with the help of modern sciences, because certain destabilizing social factors that exist in the world today (such as the situation of separated families, the educational crisis, widespread violence, etc.), render new generations fragile”, the Holy Father noted.
The Pope concluded his talk by highlighting the need for “adequate formation in spiritual life so as to make Christian communities, particularly in parishes, ever more aware of their vocation, and capable of providing adequate responses to questions of spirituality, especially as posed by the young. For this to happen, the Church must not lack qualified and responsible apostles and evangelizers.”