Conference to Consider Schools as Places of Hope

Vatican Official to Open Event in Spain

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SARAGOSSA, Spain, OCT. 6, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Though many reports point to a situation of "global crisis" and a consequent bleak perspective on the future, a conference in Spain this month is seeking to emphasize the hope that schools represent.

From Oct. 18-21, Saragossa will be the setting of the 17th World Congress on Catholic Education, with the motto "The School, a Place of Hope for Human Rights." Some 600 professionals from more than 100 countries, representing 44 millions students, are expected.

The International Office of Catholic Education (IOCE) is sponsoring the event.

Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, will open the conference.

The IOCE secretary-general, Father Angel Astorgano, pointed to the impression that "everything is going badly and there is no way out." However, he stressed that the organization's objective is "to generate hope and sketch new horizons for the future."

"The school, as an important place of education, together with the family, should be a space where the seed of hope is sown that will later give fruits of confidence and hope for the morrow," the priest stated. "The event hopes to stress the importance of respect for correct treatment and equality among all human beings, as well as the pre-eminence of education in moral and ethical values, which must always support the transmission of knowledge."

Cardinal Grocholewski's visit "undoubtedly reinforces the fact that the topics that will be addressed in this congress are a sample of the progress and challenges facing the whole educational community and a fruitful exchange between nations," Father Astorgano said.

IOCE is an NGO that represents Catholic education worldwide. Founded in 1952 in Lucerne, Switzerland, at the initiative of a group of nine countries, it has its general secretariat in Brussels. Its 210,000 associate centers group together more than 44 million students of 102 countries. Its main objective is to coordinate and encourage Catholic centers throughout the world.