Pope: Deposit of Faith Is a Priceless Treasure

Calls US Bishops to Forge Catholic Identity of Schools

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By Junno Arocho

VATICAN CITY, MAY 7, 2012 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI on Saturday reflected on the importance of Catholic Education in American society with a group of prelates from the United States in Rome for their "ad limina" pilgrimage.

Acknowledging the progress made in improving catechesis and other areas of religious education, the Pope praised the efforts made to preserve the tradition of America’s Catholic elementary and high schools. 

“As has often been mentioned in our meetings, these schools remain an essential resource for the new evangelization, and the significant contribution that they make to American society as a whole ought to be better appreciated and more generously supported," he said.

The pontiff went on to say that providing young people with a sound education in the faith represents the most urgent internal challenge facing the Catholic community in the United States. “The deposit of faith is a priceless treasure which each generation must pass on to the next by winning hearts to Jesus Christ and shaping minds in the knowledge, understanding and love of his Church,” he said.

The Holy Father also addressed the notion that establishing a Catholic identity, especially at the university level, requires more than just having religion courses or a campus chaplaincy. He encouraged Catholic schools and universities to gain momentum in creating new and effective ways of supporting students that would facilitate the transmission of faith.

He reminded the bishops of the need for the Catholic Church in the United States to cultivate “a mindset, an intellectual culture which is genuinely Catholic,” a sentiment he expressed in his pastoral visit to the United States in 2008. He concluded by expressing his gratitude for the commitment and personal sacrifice of teachers and administrators of the Catholic schools spread throughout the entire country.

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