Pope Francis Tells Teachers "The presence of Christian educators in the school world is of vital importance." FULL TEXT

Hall of the Consistory
Saturday, November 12, 2022
Dear brothers and sisters, good morning and welcome!
I thank the President for his words of greeting and all of you, belonging to the World Union of Catholic Teachers (UMEC). I greet and thank Cardinal Farrell, Archbishop Dollmann who is the Ecclesiastical Assistant and the other Bishops present and the Secretary of the Department for Culture and Education.
You are gathered here in these days in Rome for your General Assembly, which will also have to elect the new International Council. I express my gratitude to the members of the outgoing Presidential Committee for their faithful and generous service for many years, in the certainty that their work - selflessly and with great passion - will bear fruit in the future: work to bear fruit.
You have lived through difficult times in your recent history, even with moments of doubt and discouragement. At times it almost seemed that there were no more conditions to continue, that we had to finish. But, thank God, even in these stormy times, you have persevered! You have trusted in God and in the support of the Church, you have continued to engage in a spirit of Christian faith and hope. Rest assured: the seeds sown in hope take root and always grow!
UMEC too, like many other Catholic associations, is faced with the challenge of generational change, which concerns managers in particular. I invite you to consider this need with a positive outlook. Reality is never static, it is dynamic. And this of course also applies to ecclesial aggregations: they evolve and develop with the changing times, and each change of era places them in front of a new mission. Therefore, the renewal within you and in the roles of greater responsibility must be seen as the beginning of a new mission, as an opportunity to vigorously relaunch your activities of service and support to the new generations of Catholic teachers, both those who they work in Catholic schools, both those who work in interconfessional or secular institutions.
Your Union intends to encourage and motivate all these teachers to be fully aware of their important mission as educators and witnesses of the faith, individually or within groups of colleagues. To this end, you propose to be a network of colleagues in profession and brothers and sisters in faith who, in a spirit and style of friendship, welcome, mutual knowledge and common spiritual growth, place themselves at the service of all teachers. Catholics to preserve their identity and carry out their mission. I would say that in this task you are “collaborators of the Pope”: in fact, the mission of the Successor of Peter is precisely that of confirming and supporting the brothers in the faith (cf. Lk 22:32). And so you, in the world of schools, make present the service of the Church to support Catholic teachers in the faith, so that they can carry out their work and their witness in the best possible way, in situations that are often complex on the relational and institutional level.
The presence of Christian educators in the school world is of vital importance. The style he or she assumes is decisive. In fact, the Christian educator is called to be fully human and fully Christian at the same time. There is no humanism without Christianity. And there is no Christianity without humanism. He must not be spiritualist, in orbit, "out of this world". He must be rooted in the present, in his time, in his culture. It is important that his personality be rich, open, able to establish sincere relationships with students, to understand their deepest needs, their questions, their fears, their dreams. And that he is also capable of testifying - first of all with his life and also with his words - that the Christian faith embraces the whole human being, everything, which brings light and truth to every area of ​​existence, without excluding anything, without cutting off its wings. to the dreams of young people, without impoverishing their aspirations. In fact, in the tradition of the Church, the education of young people has always had as its objective the complete formation of the human person, not only the instruction of concepts, formation in all human dimensions (cf. Vatican Council II, Past Constitution. . Gaudium et spes, 48).
With regard to this educational mission, you of UMEC are called to support teachers of all ages, of all working conditions: both those with a long experience - rich in satisfactions but also hardships - and the new generations, teachers animated by enthusiasm and desire to do, but with the frailties and uncertainties that often mark the first years of teaching. All these teachers - if we look at them from a Christian perspective, of which sometimes they themselves are not fully aware - are in a position to leave a mark, for better or for worse, in the lives of children, adolescents and young people, who are entrusted to them for long time. What a responsibility! And what an opportunity to introduce them, with wisdom and respect, into the paths of the world and of life, accompanying their minds to open up to the true, to the beautiful, to the good. We know, from personal experience, how important it is to have good teachers and wise educators in the formative years!
Dear friends, in your apostolate you rightly take into account the fact that the art of educating must be continuously cultivated and increased. It is not something that has been acquired once and for all. And if this applies to various professions, which require updating, that of a teacher has a unique peculiarity: because you don't work with objects, but with subjects! Education has to do with human beings, moreover in the developmental age. They are people who change from year to year, indeed, sometimes from month to month. And then the young people of one generation are different from those of the next generation. Educators, therefore, must continually renew themselves in the motivations and ways of working. They cannot be rigid. Rigidity destroys education. In their approach to the different groups of pupils and students, they are called to start again every year, to rediscover the capacity for empathy and communication. Your task, in this sense, is to help them to keep alive the desire to grow together with their students, to find the most effective ways to transmit the joy of knowledge and the desire for truth, adopting languages ​​and cultural forms suitable for young people. of today.
And on this I would like to underline one thing. I said: “Languages ​​adapted to today's cultural forms”. Yes, but beware of ideological colonization. It is one thing to stay with the culture of the moment, to speak the language of the moment, and quite another to allow oneself to be colonized ideologically. Please: be careful to teach teachers to discern what is a novelty that makes us grow and what is an ideologization, an ideological colonization. Today, ideological colonizations destroy the human personality and when they enter education they cause massacres.
I would like to make you one last invitation that is very close to my heart. Your Union can help raise awareness among Catholic teachers about the Global Pact on Education. As you know, this initiative, which has had the support of many educational institutions, aims "to unite efforts in a broad educational alliance to train mature people, capable of overcoming fragmentation and contradictions and rebuilding the fabric of relationships for a more fraternal humanity "(Message for the launch of the Educational Pact, 12 September 2019). I trust in your commitment to involve the teachers who are members of UMEC in this project, which aims to focus on the person in his dignity, his beauty, and on families as primary educational subjects.
Dear brothers and sisters, I encourage you to look forward with hope and to give new impetus to the Union of Catholic Teachers. There is a great job and an important mission awaiting you in the world of school. May Our Lady and the Saints and the educators accompany you and inspire you. I too am with you in this challenge - not as a saint or saint, but as a companion in the fight. I cordially bless you, and please ask you to pray for me. Thank you!
Source: Vatican.va