Pontiff's Prayer Has "Back to School" Focus

September Intention: That Teachers Can Instill Love of Truth

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ROME, AUG. 31, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI will be mindful of students in the parts of the world where school is starting up again, as he keeps teachers in his prayer for September.

The Apostleship of Prayer announced the intentions chosen by the Pope for the upcoming month.

His general intention is for teachers: "That all teachers may know how to communicate the love of truth and instill authentic moral and spiritual values."

His apostolic intention is for the Church in Asia.

He will pray: "That the Christian communities of Asia may proclaim the Gospel with fervor, witnessing to its beauty with the joy of faith."

Why teach?

The prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, spoke with Vatican Radio about the Pope's intention for teachers.

The 71-year-old Poland native noted the importance of transmitting love for truth when faced with a culture of relativism, "which concerns fundamental values and truths of life."

"If one does not know what good and evil are," he said, "if everything is relative, then the question arises, what should one educate for?"

Then, regarding "spiritual values," the cardinal reminded that "education cannot be reduced to the transmission of knowledge" because then, this knowledge "can be used both for good as well as for evil."

A person must be educated to know, Cardinal Grocholewski acknowledged, but he must also be taught to want to use that knowledge for good.

Intellectual formation should "form the person, making him capable of criticism, of being in a position to judge and to evaluate on his own; not to be a slave of propaganda and ideologies," he said.

Teachers, the cardinal stressed, "must not only have an intellectual and specific formation in the subject they teach, but they must also have a certain spiritual formation, that will make them trustworthy persons to represent a certain 'authority' before the students."

Forming people

The cardinal recounted that at the Vatican, he has met with non-Christian ambassadors who boast of having been educated in Catholic schools or universities.

"I always ask them why, not being Catholics, they have chosen a Catholic school," explained the cardinal. "I always receive two answers: the first, because they are the best; the second answer -- for me, a very important one -- because a Catholic school not only transmits knowledge but it forms the person."

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On the Net:

Apostleship of Prayer: www.apostleshipofprayer.net/default-en.aspx