Pope Explains Why There's an Education Crisis

Suggests 2 Roots to Overcome

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VATICAN CITY, MAY 27, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is supporting the Italian bishops in their priority of the decade -- education -- and explaining the two roots he thinks have given rise to an "educational emergency."



The Pope offered his analysis today when he received the Italian bishops, who are meeting in their plenary assembly.

He suggested going to the roots so as to find "adequate responses" to the educational challenge.

"One main root is, it seems to me, a false concept of man's autonomy," the Holy Father said. This concept calls for man to develop himself by and for himself, "without impositions from others, who can assist in his self-development, but who cannot enter into the process."

This concept is erroneous, the Pontiff explained, because man's self is defined in relation to others. "It is created for dialogue and for communion," he said.

"Only the encounter with the 'you' and with the 'we' opens the 'I' to himself," the Pope said. "That's why so-called anti-authoritarian education is not education but rather a rejection of education."

"So a first point seems to me to be this one," he stated, "to overcome this false idea of man's autonomy as an 'I' complete in itself."

Blocking the source

Benedict XVI pointed to a second root in skepticism and relativism, "or," he said, "with simpler and clearer words, in the exclusion of the two sources that orient the human journey."

The sources, he indicated, are [human] nature and revelation. "But nature," the Holy Father observed, "is considered today as a purely mechanical thing, and because of this, no type of orientation comes from it."

Meanwhile revelation, he noted, is seen "either as a moment of historical development, and therefore relative, just as any historical and cultural development -- or, it is said, perhaps there was revelation, but it doesn't offer content, only motivation."

"And," the Pontiff warned, "if these two sources are blocked, nature and revelation, then the third source as well, history, ceases to offer guidance because it becomes nothing more than a conglomeration of arbitrary, momentary cultural decisions that serve for nothing for the present and the future."

A true concept of revelation and of nature as God's creation that speaks to us must be recovered, he urged.

Introducing a friend

Benedict XVI said that "in this 'concert,' so to speak, between creation uncoded in revelation and made concrete in cultural history" are found the keys to education. He spoke of an education "that is not an imposition but truly openness of the 'I' to the 'you,' to the 'we' and the 'You' of God."

The difficulties in education are tremendous, the Pope acknowledged, but "we cannot give into discouragement and resignation."

"To educate has never been easy," he affirmed, "but we cannot give in. [...] To educate is to form the new generations, so they know how to enter into relationships with the world."

And youth, the Pontiff affirmed, "have a thirst in their hearts, and this thirst is a demand for meaning and for authentic human relationships, which help one not to feel alone when faced with the challenges of life."

"Our answer," he proposed, "is the proclamation of God who is a friend of man, who in Jesus made himself close to everyone."