As the bicentenary of the birth of St. John Bosco approaches, a Salesian who is rector of the Pontifical Lateran University has said that Pope Francis is close to the saint, as both view education not as a job but as a way life.

Bishop Enrico dal Covolo, S.D.B., told CNA Sept. 9 that a phrase of Pope Francis' "very close to my heart is this: 'educating is not a job; it is an approach, a way of living," and said this is very close to the teaching of St. John Bosco, founder of the Salesian order, to which be belongs.

Bishop dal Covolo has been rector of the Lateran university, considered "the Pope's university", since 2010, and he was confirmed in his post for another four years by Pope Francis on June 30.

The Pontifical Lateran University is linked to the Diocese of Rome, and the vicar general of the diocese is the school's grand chancellor.

"Don Bosco has always been a lived model, a real example of life," Bishop dal Covolo said. "Paul VI used to say that men of today – but I would say young people of today – listen to doctors or professors only if they give a witness."

"Don Bosco was not a theoretician of education; he rather was a pragmatic man, who educated many, many young people, from the Pampas of Argentina to Italy."

Bishop dal Covolo described St. John Bosco's educational method as one "based on reason and love, that is Don Bosco's preventive method to achieve the goal of nurturing honest citizens and good Christians."

"It is what Pope Francis calls the revolution of tenderness," the university rector said.

Regarding his confirmation as rector of the Lateran university, he said that it will be "challenging, since today's society is not so well tailored for young people."

"Young people risk being poorer than the poor," he explained, "since they have no values, no ideals, no job, no family. The first goal of a good educator today must be that of rebuilding in young people the right gradation of values in a mystifying society."

The Pontifical Lateran University will mark the anniversary of St. John Bosco's 1815 birth with "a wide-open reflection on university teaching, since we are aware that the way of learning has changed, and we would like to find a new way to teach, according to the current situation."

"Don Bosco is significant to us since he encourages us not to cultivate the myth of an abstract science, which feeds our mind and leaves the heart dry. Don Bosco teaches us that education is a holistic process," Bishop dal Covolo concluded.