Pope Francis

26.08.20 General Audience, Library of the Apostolic Palace

Catechesis - “To Heal the World”: 4. The universal destination of goods and the virtue of hope

Acts 4: 32-35

Dear Brothers and Sisters, good morning!

In the face of the pandemic and its social consequences, many risk losing hope. In this time of uncertainty and anguish, I invite everyone to welcome the gift of hope that comes from Christ. It is He who helps us navigate the tumultuous waters of sickness, death and injustice, which do not have the last word over our final destination.

The pandemic has exposed and aggravated social problems, above all that of inequality. Some people can work from home, while this is impossible for many others. Certain children, notwithstanding the difficulties involved, can continue to receive an academic education, while this has been abruptly interrupted for many, many others. Some powerful nations can issue money to deal with the crisis, while this would mean mortgaging the future for others.

These symptoms of inequality reveal a social illness; it is a virus that comes from a sick economy. And we must say it simply: the economy is sick. It has become ill. It is sick. It is the fruit of unequal economic growth – this is the illness: the fruit of unequal economic growth – that disregards fundamental human values. In today’s world, a few rich people possess more than all the rest of humanity. I will repeat this so that it makes us think: a few rich people, a small group, possess more than all the rest of humanity. This is pure statistics. This is an injustice that cries out to heaven! At the same time, this economic model is indifferent to the damage inflicted on our common home. Care is not being taken of our common home. We are close to exceeding many limits of our wonderful planet, with serious and irreversible consequences: from the loss of biodiversity and climate change to rising sea levels and the destruction of the tropical forests. Social inequality and environmental degradation go together and have the same root (see Encyclical, Laudato Si’, 101): the sin of wanting to possess and wanting to dominate one’s brothers and sisters, of wanting to possess and dominate nature and God Himself. But this is not the design for creation.

“In the beginning God entrusted the earth and its resources to the common stewardship of mankind to take care of them” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2402). God has called us to dominate the earth in His name (see Gen 1:28), tilling it and keeping it like a garden, everyone’s garden (see Gen 2:15). “‘Tilling’ refers to cultivating, ploughing or working, while ‘keeping’ means caring, protecting, overseeing and preserving” (LS, 67). But be careful not to interpret this as a carte blanche to do whatever you want with the earth. No. There exists a “relationship of mutual responsibility” (ibid.) between ourselves and nature. A relationship of mutual responsibility between ourselves and nature. We receive from creation and we give back in return. “Each community can take from the bounty of the earth whatever it needs for subsistence, but it also has the duty to protect the earth” (ibid.). It goes both ways.

In fact, the earth “was here before us and it has been given to us” (ibid.), it has been given by God “for the whole human race” (CCC, 2402). And therefore it is our duty to make sure that its fruit reaches everyone, not just a few people. And this is a key element of our relationship with earthly goods. As the Fathers of the Second Vatican Council recalled, they said: “Man should regard the external things that he legitimately possesses not only as his own but also as common in the sense that they should be able to benefit not only him but also others” (Pastoral Constitution Gaudium et spes, 69). In fact, “The ownership of any property makes its holder a steward of Providence, with the task of making it fruitful and communicating its benefits to others” (CCC, 2404). We are administrators of the goods, not masters. Administrators. “Yes, but the good is mine”: that is true, it is yours, but to administer it, not to possess it selfishly for yourself.

To ensure that what we possess brings value to the community, “political authority has the right and duty to regulate the legitimate exercise of the right to ownership for the sake of the common good” (ibid., 2406).[1] The “subordination of private property to the universal destination of goods, […] is a golden rule of social conduct and the first principle of the whole ethical and social order” (LS, 93).[2]

Property and money are instruments that can serve mission. However, we easily transform them into ends, whether individual or collective. And when this happens, essential human values are affected. The homo sapiens is deformed and becomes a species of homo œconomicus – in a detrimental sense – a species of man that is individualistic, calculating and domineering. We forget that, being created in the image and likeness of God, we are social, creative and solidary beings with an immense capacity to love. We often forget this. In fact, from among all the species, we are the beings who are the most cooperative and we flourish in community, as is seen well in the experience of the saints. There is a saying in Spanish that inspired me to write this phrase. It says: “Florecemos en racimo, como los santos”: we flourish in community, as is seen well in the experience of the saints.[3]

When the obsession to possess and dominate excludes millions of persons from having primary goods; when economic and technological inequality are such that the social fabric is torn; and when dependence on unlimited material progress threatens our common home, then we cannot stand by and watch. No, this is distressing. We cannot stand by and watch! With our gaze fixed on Jesus (see Heb 12:2) and with the certainty that His love is operative through the community of His disciples, we must act all together, in the hope of generating something different and better. Christian hope, rooted in God, is our anchor. It moves the will to share, strengthening our mission as disciples of Christ, Who shared everything with us.

The first Christian communities understood this. They lived difficult times, like us. Aware that they formed one heart and one soul, they put all of their goods in common, bearing witness to Christ’s abundant grace in them (see Acts 4:32-35). We are experiencing a crisis. The pandemic has put all of us in crisis. But let us remember that after a crisis a person is not the same. We come out of it better, or we come out of it worse. This is our option. After the crisis, will we continue with this economic system of social injustice and depreciating care for the environment, for creation, for our common home? Let’s think about this. May the Christian communities of the twenty-first century recuperate this reality – care for creation and social justice: they go together … – thus bearing witness to the Lord’s Resurrection. If we take care of the goods that the Creator gives us, if we put what we possess in common in such a way that no one would be lacking, then we would truly inspire hope to regenerate a more healthy and equal world.

And in conclusion, let us think about the children. Read the statistics: how many children today are dying of hunger because the distribution of riches is not good, because of the economic system as I said above; and how many children today do not have the right to education for the same reason. May this image of children in want due to hunger and the lack of education help us understand that after this crisis we must come out of it better. Thank you.

[1]See GS, 71; S. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Sollicitudo rei socialis, 42; Encyclical Letter Centesimus annus, 40.48).

[2]See S. John Paul II, Encyclical Letter Laborem exercens, 19.

[3] “Florecemos en racimo, como los santos” (We bloom in clusters, like the saints): a popular expression in Spanish.


Pope Francis

15.10.20 Message for the meeting “Global Compact on Education. Together to look beyond”

organised by the Congregation for Catholic Education, Pontifical Lateran University

Dear Brothers and Sisters,

When I invited you to begin this process of preparation, consultation and planning for a global pact on education, we could never have imagined the situation that has developed in the meantime. The Covid crisis has accelerated and magnified many of the issues and needs that we had identified, and has uncovered numerous others as well. Concerns about health care are now accompanied by economic and social concerns. Educational systems worldwide have felt the effects of the pandemic at every level.

Attempts have been made everywhere to offer a rapid response through online educational platforms. These have brought to light a marked disparity in educational and technological opportunities, but they have also made us realize that, due to the lockdown and many other already existing needs, large numbers of children and adolescents have fallen behind in the natural process of schooling. Recent statistics from international agencies have led some to speak, perhaps somewhat hastily, of an “educational catastrophe”, inasmuch as some ten million children were forced to leave school as a result of the economic crisis caused by the coronavirus. This has only increased an already alarming gap (with over 250 million school age children excluded from all educational activities).

Faced with this dramatic situation, we know that necessary health care measures will prove inadequate unless accompanied by a new cultural model. We have become more conscious of the need to change our model of development. In order to ensure that the dignity of the human person is respected and protected, development ought to start from the opportunity that global interdependence offers to communities and peoples to care for our common home and to foster peace. We are experiencing a comprehensive crisis that cannot be reduced or limited to any single sector. It affects everything. The pandemic has led us to realize that what is really in crisis is our way of understanding reality and of relating to one another.

Here it is evident that neither simplistic solutions nor wishful thinking will do. Education, as we know, is meant to be transformative. To educate is to take a risk and to hold out to the present a hope that can shatter the determinism and fatalism that the selfishness of the strong, the conformism of the weak and the ideology of the utopians would convince us is the only way forward.[1]

To educate is always an act of hope, one that calls for cooperation in turning a barren and paralyzing indifference into another way of thinking that recognizes our interdependence. If our educational systems are presently marked by a mindset of replacement and repetition, and are incapable of opening up new horizons in which hospitality, intergenerational solidarity and the value of transcendence can give birth to a new culture, would this not signify that we are failing to take advantage of the opportunity offered by this historic moment?

We also know that the journey of life calls for hope grounded in solidarity. All change requires a process of education in order to create new paradigms capable of responding to the challenges and problems of the contemporary world, of understanding and finding solutions to the needs of every generation, and in this way contributing to the flourishing of humanity now and in the future.

We consider education to be one of the most effective ways of making our world and history more human. Education is above all a matter of love and responsibility handed down from one generation to another.

As such, education is a natural antidote to the individualistic culture that at times degenerates into a true cult of the self and the primacy of indifference. Our future cannot be one of division, impoverishment of thought, imagination, attentiveness, dialogue and mutual understanding. That cannot be our future.

Today, there is need for a renewed commitment to an education that engages society at every level. Let us heed the plea of the young, which opens our eyes to both the urgent need and the exciting opportunity of a renewed kind of education that is not tempted to look the other way and thus favour grave social injustices, violations of rights, terrible forms of poverty and the waste of human lives.

What is called for is an integral process that responds to those situations of loneliness and uncertainty about the future that affect young people and generate depression, addiction, aggressiveness, verbal hatred and bullying. This entails a shared journey that is not indifferent to the scourge of violence, the abuse of minors, the phenomenon of child marriage and child soldiers, the tragedy of children sold into slavery. To say nothing of the “sufferings” endured by our planet as a result of a senseless and heartless exploitation that has led to a grave environmental and climatic crisis.

At certain moments in history, it is necessary to make radical decisions that can shape not only our way of life but above all our stance in the face of possible future scenarios. Amid the present health crisis – and the poverty and confusion it has caused – we believe that it is time to subscribe to a global pact on education for and with future generations. This calls for a commitment on the part of families, communities, schools, universities, institutions, religions, governments and the entire human family to the training of mature men and women.

Today, we are called to have the necessary parrhesía to leave behind superficial approaches to education and the many short-cuts associated with utility, (standardized) test results, functionality and bureaucracy, which confuse education with instruction and end up atomizing our cultures. Instead, we should aim to impart an integral, participatory and polyhedral culture. We need the courage to generate processes that consciously work to overcome the existing fragmentation and the conflicts that we all bring with us. We need the courage to renew the fabric of relationships for the sake of a humanity capable of speaking the language of fraternity. The value of our educational practices will be measured not simply by the results of standardized tests, but by the ability to affect the heart of society and to help give birth to a new culture. A different world is possible and we are called to learn how to build it. This will involve every aspect of our humanity, both as individuals and in our communities.

Let us appeal in particular to men and women of culture, science and sport, artists and media professionals in every part of the world to join in supporting this compact and promoting by their own testimony and efforts the values of care for others, peace, justice, goodness, beauty, acceptance and fraternity. “We should not expect everything from those who govern us, for that would be childish. We have the space we need for co-responsibility in creating and putting into place new processes and changes. Let us take an active part in renewing and supporting our troubled societies. Today we have a great opportunity to express our innate sense of fraternity, to be Good Samaritans who bear the pain of other people’s troubles rather than fomenting greater hatred and resentment” (Fratelli Tutti, 77). This calls for a pluralistic and multifaceted process in which all of us can work to provide meaningful responses, in which diversity and methods are harmonized in the pursuit of the common good. The ability to create harmony: that is what is needed today.

For these reasons, we commit ourselves personally and in common:

· First, to make human persons in their value and dignity the centre of every educational programme, both formal and informal, in order to foster their distinctiveness, beauty and uniqueness, and their capacity for relationship with others and with the world around them, while at the same time teaching them to reject lifestyles that encourage the spread of the throwaway culture.

· Second, to listen to the voices of children and young people to whom we pass on values and knowledge, in order to build together a future of justice, peace and a dignified life for every person.

· Third, to encourage the full participation of girls and young women in education.

· Fourth, to see in the family the first and essential place of education.

· Fifth, to educate and be educated on the need for acceptance and in particular openness to the most vulnerable and marginalized.

· Sixth, to be committed to finding new ways of understanding the economy, politics, growth and progress that can truly stand at the service of the human person and the entire human family, within the context of an integral ecology.

· Seventh, to safeguard and cultivate our common home, protecting it from the exploitation of its resources, and to adopt a more sober lifestyle marked by the use of renewable energy sources and respect for the natural and human environment, in accordance with the principles of subsidiarity, solidarity and a circular economy.

Finally, dear brothers and sisters, we want to commit ourselves courageously to developing an educational plan within our respective countries, investing our best energies and introducing creative and transformative processes in cooperation with civil society. In this, our point of reference should be the social doctrine that, inspired by the revealed word of God and Christian humanism, provides a solid basis and a vital resource for discerning the paths to follow in the present emergency.

The goal of this educational investment, grounded in a network of humane and open relationships, is to ensure that everyone has access to a quality education consonant with the dignity of the human person and our common vocation to fraternity. It is time to look to the future with courage and hope. May we be sustained by the conviction that education bears within itself a seed of hope: the hope of peace and justice; the hope of beauty and goodness; the hope of social harmony.

Let us not forget, brothers and sisters, that great changes are not produced from behind desks or in offices. No. There is an “architecture” of peace to which various institutions and individuals in society all contribute, each according to its own area of expertise, without excluding anyone (cf. Fratelli Tutti, 231). In this way, we must move forward, all of us together, each as we are, but always looking ahead to the building of a civilization of harmony and unity, in which there will be no room for the terrible pandemic of the throw-away culture. Thank you.

[1] Cf. M. DE CERTEAU, Lo straniero o l’unione nella differenza, Vita e Pensiero, Milan, 2010, 30. Original: L’etranger ou l’union dans la différence, Paris, 2017.



Pope Francis

05.10.21 Clementine Hall,

Address to the Participants in the Meeting "Religions and Education: Towards a Global Compact on Education"

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am pleased to welcome you on this significant occasion to promote a Global Compact on Education. On this World Teachers’ Day instituted by UNESCO, we, as representatives of different religious traditions, wish to express our closeness and gratitude to teachers, and at the same time our concern for education.

Two years ago, on 12 September 2019, I appealed to all those engaged in various ways in the field of education to “dialogue on how we are shaping the future of our planet and the need to employ the talents of all, since all change requires an educational process aimed at developing a new universal solidarity and a more welcoming society” (Message for the Launch of the Compact on Education).

For this reason, I promoted the initiative of a Global Compact on Education in order “to rekindle our dedication for and with young people, renewing our passion for a more open and inclusive education, including patient listening, constructive dialogue and better mutual understanding”. I invited everyone “to unite our efforts in a broad educational alliance, to form mature individuals capable of overcoming division and antagonism, and to restore the fabric of relationships for the sake of a more fraternal humanity”.

If we desire a more fraternal world, we need to educate young people “to acknowledge, appreciate and love each person, regardless of physical proximity, regardless of where he or she was born or lives” (Encyclical Fratelli Tutti, 1). The fundamental principle “Know yourself” has always guided education. Yet we should not overlook other essential principles: “Know your brother or sister”, in order to educate in welcoming others (cf. Encyclical Fratelli Tutti; Document on Human Fraternity, Abu Dhabi, 4 February 2019); “Know creation”, in order to educate in caring for our common home (cf. Encyclical Laudato Si’) and “Know the Transcendent”, in order to educate in the great mystery of life. We are concerned to ensure an integral formation that can be summed up in knowledge of ourselves, our brothers and sisters, creation and the Transcendent. We cannot fail to speak to young people about the truths that give meaning to life.

Religions have always had a close relationship with education, accompanying religious activities with educational, scholastic and academic ones. As in the past, so also in our day, with the wisdom and humanity of our religious traditions, we want to be a stimulus for a renewed educational activity that can advance universal fraternity in our world.

If in the past, our differences set us at odds, nowadays we see in them the richness of different ways of coming to God and of educating young people for peaceful coexistence in mutual respect. For this reason, education commits us never to use God’s name to justify violence and hatred towards other religious traditions, to condemn all forms of fanaticism and fundamentalism, and to defend the right of each individual to choose and act in accordance with his or her conscience.

If in the past, also in the name of religion, discrimination was practiced against ethnic, cultural, political and other minorities, today we want to be defenders of the identity and dignity of every individual and to teach young people to accept everyone without discrimination. For this reason, education commits us to accept people as they are, not how we want them to be, without judging or condemning anyone.

If in the past, the rights of women, children and the most vulnerable were not always respected, today we are committed firmly to defend those rights and to teach young people to be a voice for the voiceless. For this reason, education impels us to reject and denounce every violation of the physical and moral integrity of each individual. Education must make us realize that men and women are equal in dignity; there is no room for discrimination.

If in the past, we tolerated the exploitation and plundering of our common home, today, with greater awareness of our role as stewards of the creation entrusted to us by God, we want to give voice to the plea of nature for its survival, and to train ourselves and future generations in a more sober and ecologically sustainable lifestyle. Yesterday I was impressed by something that was said by one of the scientists at our meeting: “My newborn granddaughter will have to live, in fifty years’ time, in an unlivable world, if things continue as they are”. For this reason, education commits us to love our mother Earth, to avoid the waste of food and resources, and to share more generously the goods that God has given us for the life of everyone. I think of what one thinker, not a Catholic, used to say: “God always forgives, we occasionally forgive. Nature never forgives”.

Today we want to state that our religious traditions, which have always played a leading role in schooling, from teaching literacy to higher education, reaffirm their mission of integrally educating each individual: head, hands, heart and soul. To think about what we are feeling and doing. To feel what we are thinking and doing. To do what we are feeling and thinking. The beauty and harmony of what it is to be fully human.

Dear brothers and sisters, I thank you for taking part in this meeting. I also thank those who, due to the pandemic, could not be here today. And now I invite you to a brief moment of silence, asking God to enlighten our minds so that our dialogue will bear fruit and help us courageously to pursue the paths of new educational horizons.