ZENIT reports on 20 November 2007 a Vatican official’s view that Catholic schools are playing a key role around the world, even to the extent of helping to resolve conflicts and aiding in interreligious dialogue.
Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski and Monsignor Angelo Vincenzo Zani, respectively prefect and undersecretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, presentedin the Vatican a 26-page document titled “Educating Together in Catholic Schools: A Shared Mission Between Consecrated Persons and the Lay Faithful.” The document will be made available in English, French, Spanish and Italian.
Cardinal Grocholewski said that “a profound malady is affecting the educational world, especially in the West.” Monsignor Zani provided a number of statistics showing how Catholic schools have helped in areas plagued by conflict.
“In the world today,” he said, “there are some 250,000 Catholic educational institutes frequented by slightly fewer than 42 million pupils, distributed over the continents as follows: 10 million in Africa, 12 million in the Americas, 10 million in Asia, 9 million in Europe, and 800,000 in Oceania. Teachers in Catholic schools number around 3.5 million.”
Monsignor Zani said Catholic schools operate even where religious liberty is not guaranteed, and they have “an amazing capacity to respond to emergencies and to formative needs.”
The undersecretary referred to Lebanon, where “the program of Catholic schools has as its principal aim that of leading young people to dialogue and collaboration between Muslims and Christians,” and of Bosnia where, “in the midst of the Balkans war, the Archdiocese of Sarajevo founded three schools called ‘Schools for Europe,’ […] to welcome Serbs, Croats and Muslims.”
“Special mention must be made,” he continued, “of countries in Central and Eastern Europe. There the collapse of communism unblocked a situation that had persisted for many years, enabling a rediscovery of the value of the individual and of freedom, also in the formative process. In many of those countries educational laws have been greatly revised and now also include recognition and economic support for Catholic schools.”