Pope: Teaching is Never Easy, But We Must Not Give Up


  • Category:

(27 May 10 - RV) "Teaching is never easy" - said Pope Benedict XVI on Thursday - "but we must not give up". This was his message to Italian Bishops Conference, (CEI), who are currently holding their plenary assembly.

The Pope praised the Italian Bishops for taking education as the main theme of their next ten year pastoral plan. A time-span he described as "necessary" to help educators to "think, propose and live the truth, beauty and the goodness of the Christian experience as witnesses for new generations".

He said even Italian society today "is marked by uncertainty about values, evident in the struggles of many adults to honour commitments". This he said "is a sign of cultural and spiritual crisis, as serious as the economic crisis. It would be illusory to counter one, ignoring the other".

The Pope renewed his appeal to "public leaders and employers to do everything in their power to mitigate the effects of the employment crisis". He also urged "everyone to reflect on the conditions of a good and meaningful life, which alone is the basis for that authoritativeness that educates".

The Pope however also warned against "the temptation that sometimes leads parents, teachers, catechists and priests to weaken their commitment to education", when educators are overtaken by "fatigue, feelings of inadequacy and ineffectiveness", the troubles of an "increasingly insistent rhythm of life". He said such a cultural context "often brings into question the dignity of the person, the goodness of life, the very meaning of truth and goodness. Indeed, when nothing beyond the individual is recognized as definitive, the ultimate criterion of assessment becomes the self and the satisfaction of one's immediate needs". This he said, makes it difficult and improbable that new generations would accept the "strict discipline" and often tiring commitment to the "Bread of Truth" for which it is worth spending one's life.

However, continued the Pope, while "we are aware of the weight of these problems we must not give in to mistrust and resignation". "Teaching has never been easy, - he said - but we must not give up" He called on educators to "awaken a passion for education" in their communities, an education that is not reduced to "simple didactics, the transmission of arid principals". Instead, underlined the Pope, education means "forming the new generations, so that they can relate with the world, armed with a significant memory, a shared interior heritage, true wisdom, that, while recognizing the transcendent end of life, guides thought, sentiment and judgement".

Pope Benedict went on to say the "thirst that young people carry in their hearts is a question of meaning and genuine human relationships that will help them not to feel alone when facing the challenges of life. It is the desire for a future, rendered less uncertain by a safe and trustworthy companionship, that approaches each individual with delicacy and respect, offering strong values from which to cultivate high but achievable goals. Our answer is the proclamation of the God who is the friend of man".

The work of education, Pope Benedict noted "requires credible places: first the family, with its unique and indispensable role; the school, the common horizon beyond religious affiliation and ideological options, the parish, "the village fountain", the place and experience where faith becomes the fabric of everyday relations".

The Holy Father observed that "the desire to promote a renewed season of evangelization does not hide the wounds which mark the ecclesial community by weakness and sin of some of its members" At the same time the Pope said, "this humble and painful admission should not, however, obscure the free and passionate service of many believers, starting from priests. The special year dedicated to them wanted to be an opportunity to promote their inner renewal, as a condition for a stronger evangelical and ministerial commitment".

The Church - he concluded -"cares about the common good, which commits us to sharing intellectual, moral spiritual and economic resources, learning to face together, in a context of reciprocity, the problems and challenges facing the country".