Pope Francis urged Catholic educators in the Philippines to form their students to become not just outstanding learners, but also authentic witnesses of faith and responsible persons in society.
The pontiff made the call in a message to the Catholic Educational Association of the Philippines (CEAP) that held its annual meeting via online streaming from September 21 to 25.
In his message, Pope Francis said Catholic education must not only teach critical thinking but must also encourage “formation in Christian doctrine and morality.”
He said the by doing so education will result in the formation of men and women “who are ready to take society’s heavier responsibilities and to witness to the true faith to the world.”
Bishop Roberto Mallari of San Jose, president of the Episcopal Commission on Catechesis and Catholic Education (ECCCE) of the Philippine bishops’ conference, noted that the education sector is one of the “most challenged” sector these days.
The bishop noted that schools have to come up with learning modalities to address the needs of the students amidst the coronavirus pandemic.
Bishop Mallari, however, said that CEAP “will not cower in fear but rather will stand firm in being steward not only to the learners but also to other schools.”
CEAP, which was established in 1941 and has more than 1,500 members, including schools and colleges across the country’s 17 regions, operates under the guidance of ECCCE.
Father Elmer Dizon, outgoing president of CEAP, said that as the pandemic continues, Catholic educators will remain vigilant in responding to issues detrimental to the mission.
He said that despite the challenges, efforts have increased “so that Catholic schools become catalysts of change,” adding that “This is who we are. This is what God wants us to be.”
In his remarks, Cardinal Luis Antonio Tagle, Prefect of the Vatican’s Congregation for the Evangelization of Peoples, said the only way to emerge stronger from the coronavirus pandemic is through dialogue.
The Filipino cardinal delivered a keynote address on the theme of “Mission: Dialogue of Faith and Life and Culture Beyond Creed, Beyond Borders, Beyond COVID.”
Cardinal Tagle said that because of the pandemic “there’s more urgency of the culture of dialogue,” adding that “a pandemic requires a pandemic response, a general response.”
“And it has to be done through dialogue,” he said, even as he warned that “without the spirit of dialogue and a culture of dialogue, this pandemic will just get worse.”