Aparecida 328-330: Catholic Education

The last theme of Chapter Six, The Formative Itinerary of Missionary Disciples (begun at paragraph #240) is Catholic Education. We’ll look at these sections through #346 to cover the topic.

In this post, the Aparecida bishops introduce the issue:

328. Latin America and the Caribbean are in the midst of a particular and delicate educational emergency. Indeed, the new educational reforms in our continent, driven by pressures to adapt to the new demands being created with global change, seem to be centered primarily on the acquisition of knowledge and skills; they suggest a plainly reductionist understanding of the human being, inasmuch as they conceive education mostly for the sake of production, competitiveness, and the market.

This is certainly true throughout the world. It’s considered a virtue in the US. I met many college students who were focused–often with full parental approval if not demand–on “practical” fields of study. One young friend from years ago comes to mind–a person who I think would be a fine church musician, but who pursued fields of study other than music and liturgy. It’s one thing if such a person finds a fruitful career in engineering, for example. It’s another when a young person goes through crisis after crisis, major after major, and piles extra years onto schooling when it’s clear they have a charism for something else.

Furthermore, they often foster the inclusion of factors contrary to life, the family, and sound sexuality. Hence, they do not promote the best values of young people nor their religious spirit, nor do they teach them the paths toward overcoming violence and attaining happiness, nor do they help them to lead a sober life and acquire those attitudes, virtues, and habits that will make the home they establish stable, and turn them into community-oriented builders of peace and the future of society.(Familiaris Consortio 36-38; John Paul II, Letter to Families, 13, February 2, 1994; Pontifical Council for the Family, Charter of the Rights of the Family, Art. 5 c, October 22, 1932; Pontifical Council for the Family, The Truth and Meaning of Human Sexuality. Guidelines for Education within the Family, December 8, 1995)

Other than the emphasis of sobriety over other virtues, such as hope and joy, I can’t argue against the sainted pope on this one.

Scholls are not only for education, but also for development of the person and formation of a whole being, not just the brain:

329. In view of this situation, strengthening close collaboration with parents and conceiving of a quality education to which all students, male and female, in our peoples have a right without distinction, the true purpose of every school must be stressed. The school is called to become primarily a privileged place of comprehensive formation and development, through the systematic and critical assimilation of one’s culture. It does so through a living and vital encounter with the cultural legacy. This means that such an encounter takes place in the school in an ongoing manner, that is, by confronting and placing the perennial values in the contemporary context. Indeed, if culture is to be educational, it must be inserted into the problems of the time in which the young person’s life unfolds. Thus, the different disciplines must be presented not only as knowledge to be acquired, but as values to be assimilated and truths to be discovered.

The challenge is when Catholic educational institutions adopt the values of the surrounding society without discernment, skepticism, and honest evaluation.

330. It is a strict responsibility of the school, as educational institution, to highlight the ethical and religious dimension of culture, precisely in order to activate the spiritual dynamism of the individual person and help him or her to attain the ethical freedom that presupposes and perfects psychological freedom.

If I read this, it might also mean that in participating in the education of non-
Catholics, or even non-Christians, that a school may invite students to explore the ethical and religious dimensions of their own faith traditions.

But ethical freedom occurs only in confrontation with the absolute values on which the meaning and value of the life of human beings depends. Even in the realm of education there appears the tendency to accept the present as parameter of values, thereby running the risk of responding to transitory and superficial values and of losing sight of the deeper exigencies of the contemporary world (EC 30). Education humanizes and personalizes human beings when they are thereby enabled to fully develop their thinking and freedom, bringing them to flourish in habits of comprehension and in initiatives of communion with the entire real order. Human beings thereby humanize their world, produce culture, transform society, and build history.(Puebla 1025)

Fine ideals. To live them out, schools must be free of undue influences from business, politics, and other “cultures” that have interest in the indoctrination of the young.

For deeper examination, an English translation of the 2007 document from the Aparecida Conference.

About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in Minnesota, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
This entry was posted in 2007 Aparecida document, bishops, evangelization and tagged . Bookmark the permalink.

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