In an ever-changing world, it is not always feasible to find definitive solutions for certain issues. Yet, it is always necessary to be updated, to be put right, to reinterpret and, above all, to look for solutions for the unsocial situations that grip those engaged in education today.

The Church has always, but particularly in recent years, emphasized the pressing need to pay attention to educational emergency, considered as one of the greatest anthropological challenges we have to face in our times. Pope Francis continues to insist on this challenge because it is the root, the cause of flourishing social inequalities. Very often this is underestimated by politics, and so treated with total indifference.

Msgr. Vincenzo Zani, Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, shared his views about this at the round table on “The vitality of dreams: giving a soul to education” during the international conference held recently at Castel Gandolfo, “Edu2Edu,” “Be educated so as to educate – growing together in a relationship that educates.”

This project was launched in 2016, and there are about 400 educators, young people and teachers from the Focolare communities in different countries that participate in it. This year’s initiative was organized by the Focolare Movement together with LUMSA (Libera Università Maria SS. Assunta) University, Sophia University Institute, AMU (United World Association), EdU (Education and Unity) and AFN (New Families Association).

Vincenzo Zani shares his views during the round table on "The vitality of dreams: giving a soul to education."
Vincenzo Zani shares his views during the round table on “The vitality of dreams: giving a soul to education.”

Msgr. Zani’s speech focused mainly on the generation gap, the split between cultures, values and ideals, provoked even by the digital revolution, which contains an extraordinary potential but often disorienting. The infosphere era, the developments in information and communication technologies are causing a change in answers to fundamental questions.

In the face of such a scenario, what does Pope Francis propose?

If we look at the past, we realize that education was a community task, a relational sharing. Networking, a 365-degree dialogue among all educational agencies, are key remedies that can contribute to overcome this challenge. In fact, to educate is not to remain fixed in one’s own securities, and neither is it abandoning oneself only to challenges, but it is also holding on to values and confronting one’s own views with other realities.

Msgr. Zani emphasized that one of these dimensions is transcendency, the relationship with God. We are invited to build relationships, to be of service to others, to propose a kind of knowledge which is not selective but relational, one which tends to include, to re-establish the basic principles for an “educational pact.” This pact has to allot the space needed by those responsible for all educational, and social activity to build a harmonious relationship among family, school, educational and civil institutions and culture.

Thus, if we want to be able to respond to the challenge launched by the Pope, we definitely need to re-establish this alliance.

Participants from different countries attending the Edu2Edu conference
Participants from different countries attending the Edu2Edu conference

It is precisely to relaunch the commitment towards rebuilding this educational pact that
Pope Francis has entrusted the Congregation for Catholic Education with the task of promoting an international event that will be held in Rome on October 4, 2019. Msgr. Zani said: “We need to accompany men and women of the third millennium, especially the young ones, to discover the principle of fraternity that underlies the whole reality.

The significance of this principle is becoming more evident owing to planetary interdependence and the common destiny of mankind. The Pope will be proposing a ‘Magna Charta’ of principles and objectives signed by him and by others in authority that represent various vital and institutional sectors in the world. It is intended as a commitment to be accomplished through concrete projects at all levels in the field of education.

Rebuilding the educational pact on a global level, educating towards universal brotherhood, means recomposing the state of social relationships damaged by individual selfishness and collective greed, while focusing on mutual respect and love to transform and improve personal and social life. Pope Francis insists that if we want to change the world we need to change education.”

Patrizia Mazzola
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