The Vatican’s Synod Hall was filled today by the bishops of Italy as they listened to the Pope’s address on the theme of evangelization and education among the new generations. The Holy Father spoke of the “educational emergency” in forming the youth and insisted that truly human formation involves God.
The Pope began his address by recalling the “educational emergency" he has referred to on a number of previous occasions. This emergency "assumes a very specific form” when dealing with “the transmission of the faith to the new generations," he said. Educating the youth in today’s culture requires us to “negotiate the obstacles placed in our way by relativism, by a culture that puts God within parenthesis and discourages all truly committed choices, and in particular definitive choices, rather privileging ... self-affirmation and immediate satisfaction."
To confront these difficulties, Benedict XVI told the bishops that they should turn to the "many charisms and forms of evangelizing energy" present in their dioceses and accept them with joy.
Other tools at the bishops’ disposal "are personal relationships, especially sacramental confession and spiritual guidance. Each of these moments represents an opportunity given to us to help our young people see the face of the God who is the true friend of mankind."
According to Pope Benedict, the educational crisis can be solved by introducing an “education that is truly educational," an education that "re-establishes full and integral formation of the person as the center of its focus.”
What must happen in Italy is, “to overcome a difficult period in which economic and social dynamism seemed to weaken, faith in the future diminished, and the poverty of many families led to a growing sense of insecurity," the Pope said.
The Holy Father also pointed to "signs of a new climate" due to "a more serene relationship between political forces and the institutions" which has been inspired by "a more acute sense of a shared responsibility for the future of the nation. ... There exists, in fact, a widespread desire to resume the journey, to face and resolve at least the most urgent and pressing problems, to open a new season of economic (but also civic and moral) growth."
The Church must not fail to make her contribution to this renewal, “so that Italy may see a period of progress and harmony," he said.
The greatest service that the bishops can provide is to “first of all bear frank witness to the fact that ... the fundamental problem of mankind today remains the problem of God. No other human and social problem can truly be solved if God does not return to the center of our lives," the Pontiff asserted.
While the Pope explained that the government should maintain its lay character, he also said that it is “important to resist all tendencies to consider religion, and in particular Christianity, as a purely private matter."
He laid particular emphasis on the prelates' concern for "the family founded on marriage, ... in order to encourage a culture favorable, and not hostile, to the family and to life, and to ask public institutions for coherent policies that recognize the central role families play in society, especially in generating and educating children." Furthermore, he added, "our commitment to the dignity and protection of human life in all moments and conditions must remain strong and constant."
"We cannot close our eyes and remain silent in the face of the poverty, discomfort and social injustice that afflict such a large part of humankind, and that require generous commitment from everyone," Benedict XVI concluded.