Amidst the reigning confusion of our time, it’s comforting to hear voices that rise above the existing noise to highlight important issues. In his new encyclical letter, “Fratelli Tutti”, Pope Francis shares his assessment, on several dimensions, of the world’s condition. The letter addresses many pressing social problems, and hints on possible causes and solutions on grounds of philosophy, political science, economics and religious doctrine. It also lays out lines of thought and action geared toward building a better future, while reminding us of humanity’s common destiny.
In this posting, we share a few excerpts that may inspire education leaders. Regardless of any religious affiliation, certain values are intrinsically and inherently true; and Francis’ allusion to it seems timely.
On access to education for all
“109. Some people are born into economically stable families, receive a fine education, grow up well nourished, or naturally possess great talent. They will certainly not need a proactive state; they need only claim their freedom. Yet the same rule clearly does not apply to a disabled person, to someone born in dire poverty, to those lacking a good education and with little access to adequate health care. If a society is governed primarily by the criteria of market freedom and efficiency, there is no place for such persons, and fraternity will remain just another vague ideal. Indeed, to claim economic freedom while real conditions bar many people from actual access to it, and while possibilities for employment continue to shrink, is to practice doublespeak.”
On grounding students upon solid principles
“114…Teachers, who have the challenging task of training children and youth in schools or other settings, should be conscious that their responsibility extends also to the moral, spiritual and social aspects of life. The values of freedom, mutual respect and solidarity can be handed on from a tender age… Communicators also have a responsibility for education and formation, especially nowadays, when the means of information and communication are so widespread.”
On promoting discernment
“167. Education and upbringing, concern for others, a well-integrated view of life and spiritual growth: all these are essential for quality human relationships and for enabling society itself to react against injustices, aberrations and abuses of economic, technological, political and media power. Some liberal approaches ignore this factor of human weakness; they envisage a world that follows a determined order and is capable by itself of ensuring a bright future and providing solutions for every problem.”
On individual human development
“187…What are needed are new pathways of self-expression and participation in society. Education serves these by making it possible for each human being to shape his or her own future.”
On cultural integration
“199… A country flourishes when constructive dialogue occurs between its many rich cultural components: popular culture, university culture, youth culture, artistic culture, technological culture, economic culture, family culture and media culture.”
The complete text of the Encyclical Letter, “Fratelli Tutti”, can be found here.