The Holy Father’s Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation (which can be found on this link at the Vatican site) looks at Youth ministry in educational institutions.
221. Schools are unquestionably a platform for drawing close to children and young people. Precisely because they are such privileged places of personal development, the Christian community has always been concerned to train teachers and administrators, and to found its own schools of various kinds and levels. In this field of educating the young, the Spirit has raised up countless charisms and examples of holiness.
Schools have potential, but sometimes they get in their own way:
Yet schools are in urgent need of self-criticism, if we consider the results of their pastoral outreach, which in many cases focuses on a kind of religious instruction that proves often incapable of nurturing lasting experiences of faith.
I think what Pope Francis might be getting at is this: the nurturing of faith experiences is about making disciples. Sports, academic achievement, and other aspects of culture override the basic mission of the Church. It may be that schools believe that sacraments in parishes somehow plant the necessary seeds. And they do. But seeds must be nurtured.
At worst, some Catholic schools exist to maintain themselves:
Some Catholic schools seem to be structured only for the sake of self-preservation. Fear of change makes them entrenched and defensive before the dangers, real or imagined, that any change might bring. A school that becomes a “bunker”, protecting its students from errors “from without” is a caricature of this tendency.
Aside from schools, this phenomenon is also found in conservative associations.
Yet this image reflects, in a chilling way, what many young people experience when they graduate from certain educational institutions: an insurmountable disconnect between what they were taught and the world in which they live. The way they were instructed in religious and moral values did not prepare them to uphold those values in a world that holds them up to ridicule, nor did they learn ways of praying and practicing the faith that can be easily sustained amid the fast pace of today’s society. For one of the greatest joys that any educator can have is to see a student turn into a strong, well-integrated person, a leader, someone prepared to give.
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