Cardinal Piacenza: Educational Crisis is Among the Priorities of Our Time

Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy Delivers Address on Educating Formators

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By Junno Arocho

ROME, JULY 6, 2012 (Zenit.org).- On Tuesday, Cardinal Mauro Piacenza, Prefect of the Congregation for the Clergy delivered a seminar on the formation of priests at the Pontifical Athenaeum "Regina Apostolorum" in Rome. Speaking on the theme of "Educating Formators in a Time of Educational Crisis", the cardinal spoke on the the relationship between "human formation and faith" and "human formation and the educational crisis".

The cardinal reflected on the crisis of human formation in the world today, saying that even the Magisterium of the Church has said that the educational crisis "is among the priorities of our time".

"Obviously, the deficit in human formation does not regard only ecclesial realities: indeed, to be honest, compared with our situation, the crisis is much more entrenched and widespread in civil society, and its effects, visible to all, have and will continue to have grave anthropological, social, and finally, theological, consequences of great significance," he said.

Stating idealism, rationalism, and relativism as the beginnings of this crisis, the Italian prelate said that from such ideologies "derives the explosive hedonism, narcissism, pansexualism, in which the people of our time immerse themselves and from which it is necessary to help them free themselves with every means at our disposal."

After explaining the current human formation crisis, Cardinal Piacenza reinforced the Church’s mission in aiding mankind in his search for the answer to the meaning of life.

"The Church’s educational mission itself must continually be reinvigorated, reinforced and restarted from this authentic passion for man, a passion that, as the etymology of the term 'passio' indicates, is first of all the shared participation in the same condition of "asking about meaning," he said.

To answer this reality of man, Cardinal Piacenza pointed to Pope Benedict XVI’s encyclical, "Deus Caritas Est", where the Holy Father explains that the being of a Christian is defined as "the encounter with an event, a person."

"It is therefore possible to affirm that the answer to what man is, an answer that is not inside him, can be encountered, it has come to meet us, it has revealed itself in what is closest to man: man himself," he said.

"Such an encounter between humanity, as a question, and the Event of Christ, as an answer, constitutes the possibility of every authentic formation."

Addressing the formation of priests and seminarians, Cardinal Piacenza said that the current wave of relativism can be kept away from seminary life if the norms regarding sexual morality the relationship with truth are respected. Such barriers, he said would "reduce the possible numbers of potential free riders."

Cardinal Piacenza warned that although some priests have entered the seminary as free riders and leave as such, things such as i use of the internet in an imprudent manner can be devastating to one’s formation. "An improper use of the internet creates free rider priests!" he exclaimed.

"The internet’s crucial role is often studied – also in respect to the reform of canonical discipline having to do with the abuse of minors – for the dangers to which it exposes seminarians, and priests too, especially those who are the most isolated, because of the massive spread of pornography," he said.

The cardinal concluded his address stating that seminary formation and permanent formation must be a continuum where the gap between the two is bridged by the Magisterium of the Church. "No educator, in that sense, can arbitrarily presume to be above the Magisterium, grasping first, better and more than it the real exigencies of the Church of Christ," he said.

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For Cardinal Piacenza's full address, go to: http://www.zenit.org/article-35154?l=english