Home > Synod > 2010-10-13 17:43:46
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Intervention of Card. Zenon GROCHOLEWSKI, Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education (VATICAN CITY)


The Church in the Middle East has a long educational tradition. Today thousands of Catholic scholastic institutions exist, with about 600,000 students. They are generally highly esteemed and offer a scholastic education without distinguishing or discriminating and grant access especially to the poorest. Moreover, there are four Catholic universities in the region which have campuses abroad, eight institutes of higher ecclesial studies and at least ten seminaries for different rites. In Middle Eastern countries, there are various opportunities for Catholic educational institutions to carry out their activities and mission. Thus, their presence in some areas is more concentrated while it is less in others.
Referring to Number 3 of the Instrumentum laboris, which outlines in a general way the specific objective of this Assembly, so that Catholic educational institutions might carry weight in the fulfillment of nearly all of the premises present in the various points of the Document, that is:
–providing to Christians the reason for their presence in the Middle East and their mission in each country; forming authentic witnesses to the faith at all levels and individuals qualified to communicate the faith;
–reviving ecclesial communion and cooperation between the very diverse components of the Middle East’s ecclesial reality; in ecumenical commitment and interreligious dialogue; in cooperation with Jews and Muslims in religious, social, and cultural fields for the common good;
–reinforcing the required Christian commitment in public life; in civil and political activity; through the means of communication; contributing to appropriately facing the challenges of peace as well as those born of the ambiguity of modernity; creating a more just, fair and human society; contributing to the whole development of the countries of the Middle East at all levels and in the enrichment of Christian values.
So that Christians may be duly respected and carry out their charitable mission, even the educational one, the qualified promotion of concepts of “Positive laity”, dignity of the human person, their rights, true religious freedom, and respect for the freedom of others is necessary. Catholic educational institutions can and must contribute to this promotion as well.
Regarding the rest, I think it is difficult to find among the premises highlighted in the Instrumentum laboris any one for which educational institutions do not have importance. Clearly each of these institutions must contribute within their own field of activity and according to their concrete possibilities.
I would like to highlight four items:
1) Our institutions are open to all and respectful of those who do not share the Christian faith, so that nobody feels like a guest or a foreigner. This does not mean, however, silencing the Christian values on which the Catholic educational system is founded nor the weakening of its own specific identity and Christian mission.
2) In order to be promoters of peace, respect for human rights, progress, civil and political commitment, and moreover to be committed to ecumenism, interreligious dialogue, etc., institutes of higher learning must have contact and dialogue with other institutions of the same type which exist within the territory.
3) The genuine promotion of priestly vocations and the sound philosophical-theological, spiritual and cultural preparation for future priests, appropriate to the specific needs of the place, remains fundamental. Indeed, the strengthening and development of the Church in the Middle East depends in large part upon their quality and efforts.
4) It is of extreme importance that the Bishops/Eparchs consistently accompany Catholic educational institutions with their presence, encouragement, assistance, and constructive counsel.

[00029-02.06] [IN008] [Original text: Italian]



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