With a view to the next generational change at the helm of the World Union of Catholic Teachers (WUCT-UMEC), Pope Francis has encouraged this to be seen as “the beginning of a new mission” and the opportunities it offers. The pope spoke during an audience for the association, which is currently meeting for its general assembly in Rome.
“Reality is never static, reality is dynamic. And of course this applies to ecclesial associations: they evolve with the change of times and each change of era presents them with a new mission”, the Pope addressed his guests, who serve as teachers in the most diverse educational institutions around the world. The renewal in our ranks should be seen as an “opportunity to strongly revive your activities in favor of new generations of Catholic teachers, both those who work in Catholic schools and those who work in mixed religious or secular institutions”.
Francis acknowledged that they would help Catholic teachers develop an awareness of their important mission as educators and witnesses of the faith, to preserve their “identity” and to continue their mission. “I would say that in this task you are ‘collaborators with the Pope’: in fact, the mission of the Pope is precisely that of confirming and supporting our brothers and sisters in the faith (cf. Lk 22:32). to support Catholic teachers to “exercise their work and witness” in the best possible way, “in often complex situations”, in terms of relationships and institutions, the Pope showed understanding.
“The Pope’s Employee”
The presence of Christian coaches in the world of schools is a “vital necessity”, emphasized Pope Francis. In this context, however, the style of the person in question is particularly important: “The Christian educator is indeed called to be at the same time fully human and fully Christian. There is no humanity without Christianity. And there is no Christianity without humanity.”
The coach must stay with both feet in the world around him, but at the same time take seriously the concerns and needs of his pupils and students and address them, emphasized Frančesku. All teachers, whether young or old, leave a mark on the students entrusted to them, which can have positive and negative effects, the Pope warned to take their responsibility as educators seriously. However, this is precisely the chance to give young people a good start in life, according to the Pope, who himself has worked as a teacher in Jesuit schools in Chile and in his native Argentina.
Beware of ideological colonization
The “art of education”, like all other professions, needs constant updating, but it carries a unique feature, since its practice is not about “objects” but about “subjects”, which are often still in development, emphasized Frančesku. On the other hand, there are coaches, who must be constantly updated and not rigid, the Pope warned. “Rigidity destroys education”, was his spontaneous objection. It is important to recognize the signs of the times and, while conveying the teaching content – but also the joy of knowledge and thirst for truth – use language and behavior appropriate for young people. But this in no way means falling into “ideological colonization”, the Pope wanted to emphasize:
“It is one thing to be with the culture of the moment, to speak the language of the moment, it is another thing to allow yourself to be ideologically colonized. Please: Be careful to teach teachers to distinguish what is ideologisation, ideological colonization. Today, ideological colonization destroys the human personality, and when they invade education, massacres occur.”
At the end of the audience, Pope Francis again campaigned for the Global Pact for Education, for which preparatory work began in 2019 on his initiative. A little later than planned due to Corona, the pact, which aims to promote brotherhood education worldwide, was launched in October 2020. Many institutions have already joined the pact. Francis asked his guests before sending them off with his blessing.
(vatican news – cs)