Cardinal Bertone: Education Needs Religious Dimension

Notes Fear of Leaving Space for What's Inherent to Human Heart

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 4, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI's secretary of state presided over the beatification of an Italian nun who was a leader of her era in the education of women. The cardinal warned that leaving aside the religious dimension of the person impoverishes education.

Cardinal Tarcisio Bertone said this Sunday from Ivrea, Italy, at the beatification of Antonia Maria Verna (1773-1838). 

The cardinal highlighted the present-day validity of the nun's educational ideas, saying they remind us of a vital need for schools in which the religious dimension "can be revealed in all its positive potential for full human development."

"Too often it seems that people are afraid to leave space for the religious dimension of life, which is inherent to the human heart," he said. Cardinal Bertone lamented the trend "to hide [this dimension] in the private world of the individual. Such an attitude greatly impoverishes educational activity."

Mother Verna's message "invites us not to be afraid to educate people in the demanding choices that Jesus continues to present in the Church," the Vatican official said.

"In collaboration with the civil authorities of her time, Mother Antonia strove for a form of education ... that could reach the largest number of children and help them to develop all dimensions of their personality, completely and harmoniously," he explained.

The number of schools founded by Mother Verna's Sisters of Charity of the Immaculate Conception "calls upon us to consider, today more than every, the role of institutions which enjoy parity with state schools as a factor enriching a nation's education."

He noted that the schools run by the Sisters of Charity in Europe, America, the Middle East and Africa have produced "generations of teachers who have been, and continue to be, true educators whose contribution to the cultural and social development of their countries is difficult to evaluate and too often forgotten."