“Communicating hope and trust in our time.”

- Pope Francis

The Essence of Catholic Education (Part II)

Fr. Fernando Navidad Egargo, Ph.D

By Fr. Fernando Navidad Egargo, Ph.D.

VATICAN II provides a rather comprehensive philosophy of education. It declares that “true education is directed towards the formation of the human person in view of his final end and the good of that society to which he belongs and in the duties of which he will, as an adult, have a share” (Gravissimum Educationis#1). There is no authentic education, according to the mind of the Council, unless it touches on the development of the human person so that he/she becomes capable of performing his responsibilities to God, to society and to him/herself. This same thought was already taught by Pope Pius XI when he wrote : “Christian education takes in the whole aggregate of human life, physical and spiritual, intellectual and moral, individual, domestic and social, not in view of reducing it in any way, but in order to elevate, regulate and perfect it.” This vision of education is again re-affirmed in the post-conciliar document Malgre’ les Declarations (MD #29) saying that education “should be intentionally directed to the growth of the whole person.”

Being educated is not an end in itself. Education is directed towards something of higher value. Pope Paul VI calls this product of education as maturity and fruition (Populorum Progressio #15). Vatican II, on the other hand, calls it formation. However, being formed is not an end in itself, either. It is directed to an even higher value. This value is total human development. A person who is given the possibility of actualizing himself becomes fruitful. In effect, he “becomes prepared to take (his) part in the life of society in its various aspects” especially in the “promotion of the common good (Gravissimum Educationis#1).”

Every person, by natural vocation, needs to fully develop him/herself. Education, then, as a tool for human development, does not discriminate. Already, even before Vatican II, Catholic educators believed in the universal access to education in all forms and insisted that education “refers to all people…(in order) to progress spiritually and to seek complete development of the person”.

This task is entrusted to institutions and persons whom the church considers as the extension of her ministry. For the person, this task becomes a way of witnessing, a way “to let the newness and the power of the Gospel shine out every day in their…social life” (Christifideles Laici # 14). It is, in the end, a concrete manifestation of “the vital synthesis which the lay faithful are able to effect between the Gospel and the duties of everyday life”(Christifideles Laici # 34).

There is nothing Christian in anything that is intended to deceive or to mislead. Falsehood and deception will never be a component of a Christian Catholic education.

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