Pope Francis has called on teachers to engage with the peripheries within their own classrooms, loving their students for their limitations as well as their potential.

"Indeed, the duty of a good teacher - all the more for a Christian teacher - is to love his or her more difficult, weaker, more disadvantaged students with greater intensity," the Pope said, according to Vatican Radio's translation.

The educational relationship of the teacher must be such that each student feels "loved for what he or she is, with all of their limitations and potential," he added.

Professional associations of Christian teachers are "called to engage in the peripheries of the school, which cannot be abandoned to marginalization, exclusion, ignorance, crime."

Pope Francis was speaking to members of the Unione Cattolica Italiana Insegnati, Dirigenti, Educatori, Formatori (UCIIM), a Catholic Italian association of educators, to mark the 70th anniversary of their founding.

The Pope also stressed the importance of teaching values, in addition to content, in order to promote harmony in the world.

"You must not teach just content, but the values and customs of life," he said. "A computer can teach content," but only a teacher can show "how to love, how to understand which values and customs create harmony in society."

During the audience, Pope Francis acknowledged the beauty of the teaching profession, decrying how badly teachers are paid considering the time spent in school, in preparation, and with the individual students.

Similar to parenthood, at least in a spiritual sense, the Pope stressed that teaching "allows us to see the people who are entrusted to our care grow day after day."  

Pope Francis went on to remind teachers that they are never alone, joined as they are with "the entire educational community to which they belong."
UCIIM was founded Professor Nosengo Gesualdo, a Catholic religion teacher, in Italy, 1944, while World War II was still under way.

Remarking on this anniversary, Pope Francis noted how far Italian schools have come through the aid of the Association.

"Over the past 70 years Italy has changed, schools have changed, but there are always teachers willing to engage in their profession with that enthusiasm and willingness that faith in the Lord gives us,"  he said.

More than simply a job, Pope Francis said, teaching is "a relationship in which each teacher must feel fully involved as a person, to give meaning to the educational task towards their students."