Pope Benedict: Educating young people in justice and peace

Pope Benedict regularly reaches out to young people and underscores the importance of education, which he describes as “the most interesting and difficult adventure of life.” Because of his long personal experience as a teacher and pastor who has always been in touch with young people, Benedict XVI knows well that it is not enough to be teachers but that it is necessary above all to be witnesses, as Paul VI used say.

Below are excerpts from his recent message for the World Day of Peace:
“Educating young people in justice and peace.”–Jim



Pope Benedict:

Educating young people in justice and peace


(Excerpts from Benedict XVI’s Message for the World Day of Peace 2012;

l’Osservatore Romano; #51, 12-21-11).


…Attentiveness to young people and their concerns, the ability to listen to them and appreciate them, is not merely something expedient; it represents a primary duty for society as a whole, for the sake of building a future of justice and peace.

It is a matter of communicating to young people an appreciation for the positive value of life and of awakening in them a desire to spend their lives in the service of the Good.  This is a task which engages each of us personally.

The concerns expressed in recent times by many young people around the world demonstrate that they desire to look to the future with solid hope.  At the present time, they are experiencing apprehension about many things: they want to receive an education which prepares them more fully to deal with the real world, they see how difficult it is to form a family and to find stable employment; they wonder if they can really contribute to political, cultural and economic life in order to build a society with a more human and fraternal face. …


            Education is the most interesting and difficult adventure in life

(emphasis added).  Educating—from the Latin educere—means leading young people to move beyond themselves and introducing them to reality, towards a fullness that leads to growth.  This process is fostered by the encounter of two freedoms, that of adults and that of the young.  It calls for responsibility on theh part of the learners, who must be open to being led to the knowledge of reality, and on the part of educators, who must be ready to give of themselves.  For this reason, today more than ever we need authentic witnesses, and not simply people who parcel out rules and facts; we need witnesses capable of seeing farther than other because their life is so much broader.  A witness is someone who first lives the life that he proposes to others (emphasis added)….

            (TO ADMINISTRATORS).  I would also like to address a word to those in charge of educational institutions: with a great sense of responsibility may they ensure that the dignity of each person is always respected and appreciated.  Let them be concerned that every young person be able to discover his or her own vocation and helped to develop his or her God-given gifts.  May they reassure families that their children can receive an education that does not conflict with their consciences and their religious principles.

Every educational setting can be a place of openness to the transcendent and to others; a place of dialogue, cohesiveness and attentive listening, where young people feel appreciated for their personal abilities and inner riches, and can learn to esteem their brothers ad sisters.  May young people be taught to savor the joy which comes from the daily exercise of charity and compassion towards others and from taking an active part in the building of a more humane and fraternal society. …

(TO YOUNG PEOPLE) Raising one’s eyes to God.

            “It is not ideologies that save the world, but only a return to the living God, our Creator, the guarantor of our freedom, the guarantor of what is really good and true—an unconditional return to God who is the measure of what is right and who at the same time is everlasting love.  And what could ever save us apart from love?” (Benedict XVI, Address at Youth Vigil (Cologne, 20 August 2005).  Love takes delight in truth, it is the force that enables us to make a commitment to truth, to justice, to peace, because it bears all things, believes all things, hopes all things, endures all things (cf. 1 Cor 13:1-13).

Dear young people, you are a precious gift for society (emphasis added).  Do not yield to discouragement in the face of difficulties and do not abandon yourselves to false solutions which often seem the easiest way to overcome problems.  Do not be afraid to make a commitment, to face hard work and sacrifice, to choose the paths that demand fidelity and constancy, humility and dedication.  Be confident in your youth and its profound desires for happiness, truth, beauty, and genuine love!  Live fully this time in your life so rich and so full of enthusiasm.

Realize that you yourselves are an example and an inspiration to adults (emphasis added), even more so to the extent that you seek to overcome injustice and corruption and strive to build a better future.  Be aware of your potential; never become self-centered but work for a brighter future for all.  You are never alone.  The Church has confidence in you, follows you, encourages you and wishes to offer you the most precious gift she has: the opportunity to raise your eyes to god, to encounter Jesus Christ, who is himself justice and peace. …



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