During a special conference exploring the role of education in the new evangelization, Fr. Denis Biju Duval noted that education should help grow our potential, which is inhibited by certain cultural trends.
“This moment of reflection, which is also linked to issues of the new evangelization, is also on what to do nowadays to reconstruct an educational and integral proposal,” Fr. Duval explained in a Jan. 31 interview with CNA.
This proposal, he stated, needs to be one that is “respectful of the educators and that really helps them to structure a true freedom and maturity; and also to incarnate humanly their faith in a balanced way.”
Fr. Biju Duval is a member of the Emmanuel Community, and is the president of the Pontifical Institute Redemptor Hominis, which is part of the Pontifical Lateran University.
Organized by the Emmanuel Community and the Pierre Goursat University Institute, the Jan. 31-Feb. 2 conference reflected on the theme of “Education and the New Evangelization.”
Speaking of the conference theme, Fr. Duval noted that their reflections fall “within a current situation in which references for education have been lost.”
“One does not know any more in the contemporary culture what educating means, what are the contents of education, what are the types of relationships that form with the educators,” he said, highlighting that “there is a twosome that needs to remain indissoluble, which is that of the education and evangelization.”
Referring to the different challenges faced in the area of education today, the priest observed that there are several ideologies which disable one’s capacity to learn and develop well.
The most “fundamental” of these ideologies, he explained, “is that of believing that man, as an autonomous individual, builds himself up on his own.”
“So this fundamental idea is the ruin of all the assumptions of education,” the priest noted, because “considering that the child is in need of everything, that is before being able to exercise his own freedom in a mature and adult way, he needs to first receive it thanks to the educational context in which he grows.”
Therefore, “this is the fundamental idea that puts all the educational proposals in crisis,” Fr. Duval expressed, “because it negates the fundamental anthropological data on which the whole educational proposal is founded.”
Reflecting on the growing threat of gender ideology in schools, the priest observed that this is “a consequence of this fundamental idea which consists of saying if it is true that man builds himself up on his own.”
If man believes this idea, “he also builds himself up on his own with respect to sexual identity or practicing sexuality,” Fr. Duval noted.
“It is not a data that he receives with sexual identity that he has had by birth, but it is a data that he constructs himself, whatever his biological sexual identity is,” the priest observed, and which forgets that man is “heir of a received gift.”
“So the answer is not only that of arguments on gender, it is a much more fundamental answer that consists of restoring the conditions on a level of relationships” he said, which “allow the child and then the young person to discover himself as an heir of the same human nature which he receives.”
When a child recognizes the “values of culture and faith” they have received, they also obtain “the elements of the self-development” and are then “capable of exercising” their “freedom in a mature way,” the priest stated.
“But the main point is that it is necessary to find a communicative and educational style where one can really receive in order to develop.”