Pope to Polish Bishops: urgent need for Christian education, especially for the young


The Holy Father said that he was “aware that economic difficulties, consistently high levels of unemployment, and concern over guaranteeing material existence all have an effect on the way of life of many Polish families. It is not possible to create truly authentic attitudes without bearing in mind these problems, which also affect young people."

On this point, Benedict noted the "many positive phenomena that support and assist education in the faith," such as "a profound sensitivity towards the needs of others, especially those of the poor," and "a real interest for questions of faith and religion."

"Education in faith," he explained, "must consist in the first place of developing that which is good in man.”

He continued, saying that “In the Church's educational initiatives, it would also be appropriate ... to accustom children and young people to prayer. ... Among the various forms of prayer, a special place is reserved for the liturgy.”

“In Poland,” he commended the bishops, “young people participate actively and in large numbers in Sunday Mass."

The Pope went on to refer to the enthusiastic participation of young Poles in Catholic groups, specifically noting the "Light and Life" movement.

"The spirituality of this movement”, he said, “is focused on the encounter with God in Holy Scripture and in the Eucharist." He called on the prelates to support it "as being particularly effective in educating in the faith, though without, of course, overlooking other movements."

The Pope then turned to the question of cooperation between various youth-aimed lay associations and families in the realm of education.

"The formation of young generations is the task of parents, of the Church and of the State," he said. "Therefore, ... the Church must collaborate very closely with schools, universities and other lay institutions."

He said that religious education within schools must "maintain its true evangelical dimension of transmitting and bearing witness to the faith."

As for the catechesis of adults, he called on the bishops to "support those institutions that already undertake" this activity.

In his closing points to the bishops, Pope Benedict addressed the issue of pastoral care in universities, in the world of culture and in the world of communications media.

"After years of scant freedom,” he said, “the Church in Poland has been able to establish her own universities and theological faculties, most of which have become part of the infrastructure of State-run universities."

He noted that Poland, with its "rich cultural heritage rooted in Christian values," which had entered the European Union not so long ago, "must not lose this heritage."

He also stressed that in the world of culture, a special role must be played by the communications media, "which thus constitute a valuable instrument of evangelization."

The Pope invited the prelates to establish contact "with the world of journalists and other media operators. It may be appropriate to organize special pastoral initiatives specifically for them."

In conclusion, the Holy Father quoted "Gravissimum educationis," a Vatican II document which remind pastors of "their most serious obligation to see to it that all the faithful, but especially the youth who are the hope of the Church, enjoy a Christian education."

"This exhortation”, he said, “is still relevant," and it may be even more urgent today, in the face of the new challenges presented by current social phenomena."

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