Pope: schools should form consciences to generosity and equality
Pope Francis envisages Catholic schools as “welcoming places” where one heals not only one's own wounds but also those of others. He wants them to be places where one learns to read and discern the "signs of the times", but above all, he wants them to help develop in their students a critical attitude towards certain models of development and consumption that create shameful inequalities among people.
The Pope expressed his vision of an ideal Catholic school in a message he sent on Thursday to the Latin American Federation of Jesuit Schools (FLACSI), on the occasion of its 20th anniversary. Started in 2001, the federation of some 92 Jesuit-run schools in 19 countries of Latin America and the Caribbean, is based in Bogota, Colombia. FLACSI was started by the Conference of Provincials for Latin America (CPAL), which promotes common policies, strategies and initiatives across the network in the service of education and the social transformation of the region.
In his message the Pope invited FLACSI schools to "go out", following the example of Jesus "who teaches us to relate to others and to Creation". He particularly insisted on “meeting with the little ones, with the poor and the discarded”. "May our schools form hearts convinced of the mission for which they were created, with the certainty that life grows and matures to the extent that we give it for the life of others".
Hence “welcoming schools” should really have open doors, not just in words, where the poor can enter and where others can go and meet them. Schools should embody the wisdom of the Gospel, which is the privileged perspective from which one can learn so much. Schools, he said, should not withdraw into “selfish elitism”, but must be places where students “live together with everyone, where brotherhood is lived, knowing that everything is connected.” In this regard, the Pope said one should remember that “fraternity, in the first place, is not a moral duty”. Rather, it is the “objective identity of the human race and of all creation” by which “we are created in a family, as brothers and sisters”.
Vatican sets term limits for associations of the faithful
The Dicastery for Laity, Family and Life has issued a general Decree — which has the force of law – that regulates the duration and number of governing mandates (with a maximum of 10 consecutive years) in international associations of the faithful, both private and public; and the necessary representativeness of the members in the election process of the international governing body. The measure, approved in forma specifica by Pope Francis and promulgated on Friday, will come into force in three months. It will be binding on all associations of the faithful and other entities recognised or erected by the Dicastery.
The aim of the Decree is to promote “a healthy turnover” in governing positions, so that authority is exercised as an authentic service that is articulated in ecclesial communion.
An Explanatory Note published by the Dicastery together with the Decree, notes that Pope Francis, “in line with his predecessors, suggests understanding the needs required by the journey of ecclesial maturity of the associations of the faithful from the perspective of missionary conversion” (cf. Evangelii gaudium, 29-30), indicating as priorities “respect for personal freedom; overcoming self-referentiality, unilateralism and absolutism; promoting a broader synodality, as well as the precious good of communion.”
The Note points out that “not infrequently the lack of limits to the mandates of government favours, in those called to govern, forms of appropriation of the charisma, personalism, and centralisation of functions, as well as expressions of self-reference, which easily cause serious violations of personal dignity and freedom and even real abuses. A bad exercise of governance,” the Note states, “inevitably creates conflicts and tensions that wound the communion, weakening the missionary impulse.”
On the other hand, experience has shown that “the generational change of governing bodies through the rotation of management responsibilities, brings great benefits to the vitality of the association.”
At the same time, the Dicastery, “aware of the key role played by the founders,” reserves the right to dispense them from the limits set for mandates (Art. 5 of the Decree), but only “if it deems it appropriate for the development and stability of the association or entity, and if this dispensation corresponds to the clear will of the central governing body.”