Dissertation Archbishop Jorge Mario Bergoglio at the headquarters of the Christian Association of Entrepreneurs, on the subject of Education (01/09/1999)



At Harvard, in the frontispiece of one of its buildings, it reads: “What is man that you care for him as well?” . Great question, to be addressed by those who want to venture into the field of education. Like us today.

What is expressed here, with all its load of admiration are words taken from Psalm 8 – emphasizes not be God, the psalmist’s partner interested in your creature. “… So that you care for him.” The emphasis is on the “well” of the interrogation. Is the quality of care that God dispenses to man, which surprises the psalmist. This amount of attention, Scripture brings them together in one word: love.

And after the surprise, then the impact that the actions of the Creator to his favorite work, is the other issue. Ontological question is posed, the question of being of that beneficiary of many delicacies.

What is man? What are the men?

The biblical phrase taken in context to glimpse a dual path, not antagonistic, to the mystery of man: the theological way, or go back from the road works, the nucleus from which flow the same: the way of philosophy, culture, science.

The first path leads us still admire as the sacred author, to that divine pedagogy to humanity, which leads us His Word, which acquires such proximity and density of presence in the middle of the story, which is one of us: Jesus Christ. Christ fully reveals man to himself and shows him his dignity.

The question should be, because man needs to know what it is-somehow-to be learning to be what it is. It is given as an essence, as nature, but it must be done, must be carried out. And it is this process of humanization, which we call education.

The man, along with other men, put on exercise their potential as well as fulfills himself, is generating culture. In culture, the subject is a community, a people, that there is a lifestyle. Education is a process of transmitting culture.

The man and the peoples with his works are said, but we must add that we are also what we aspire to be. Therefore, we can be defined as much by our aspirations for our achievements.

At the end of the millennium spoken of cultural crisis, a crisis of values. And this touches the core of the human, as a person, as a society.

We care what happens. We must not forget that the bad breaks and installed only when it is not what it should be. It therefore discernment.

 Cultural discernment

In this globalized culture, come to our shores remains of what someone titled “Shipwreck culture”, elements of modernity that is fired and his posterity that is gaining ground.

Try to recognize and characterize some of its features:.

* Messianism profane. Symptomatic appears in various forms of social and political approaches. Sometimes it is a displacement of the ethos of the acts of the person towards the structures, so that will not be the ethos that shapes the structures but who produce structures ethos. Hence, the way of salvation socio – political prefer to go the “analysis of structures” and economic policy actions resulting from them. Behind this lies the conviction that the ethos is a fragile while the structures are safe and sound value. This moves the tension act – structure. The ethos does not hold the proper tension between the act and structure (it is considered active as what comes from within the person). Consequently ethos moves because structures are naturally more stable and more weight. With the loss of the personal sense of purpose (the good of the people, God) is the strength of the “quantity” having the structure.

* Relativism, infected stem from uncertainty of mediocrity: the current trend is to discredit the values ​​or at least a moralism proposes postponing the transcendent immanent replacing it with false promises or situational purposes. The Christian roots disconnect makes monads values, or just names platitudes.

Relativism is the ability to fantasize about reality, think of it as if it could be dominated by an order instrumentalized in a game. Bring to assess and judge only by a subjective impression: no rules have practical, concrete, objective.

There is a reduction of ethics and politics to physics. There are good and bad in itself, but only an estimate of advantages and disadvantages. Shifting moral reason results in that the law can not refer to a fundamental image of justice, but becomes the mirror of the dominant ideas.

This retreat subjectivist values, leads us to a “cyclical advance by consensus”. We went here also in a degradation: go “leveling down” through consensus negotiator. Progress is agreeing. Thus, the logic of force triumphs.

Moreover, establishing the realm of opinion. There are no certainties and convictions. Anything goes, from there to no good, only a few steps.

* The man of today experiencing the uprooting and homelessness. He was taken there by his excessive desire for autonomy inherited from modernity. He has lost the support of something that transcends it.

* A new nihilism “universalized” and desmereciendo canceling all particularities, or afirmándolas so violently that achieve their destruction. Fratricidal struggles. Full internationalization of capital and media, disregard of concrete sociopolitical commitments for real participation in culture and values.

We delude ourselves with an autonomous individuality, not discriminated … and ended up being a number of marketing statistics, a stimulus for advertising.

* The unilateral nature of the modern concept of reason: reason only quantitative (geometries as perfect science), the ratio of computation and experimentation is entitled to be called “reason.”

* The technicist mentality along with the pursuit of secular messianism are two expressive features of modern man, who could be described as either “man Gnostic” possessor of knowledge but lacking in drive, and – secondly – need of the esoteric, secularized in this case, ie layman. In this sense one could say that the temptation of education is being Gnostic and esoteric, unable to handle the power of the technique from the indoor unit that comes from the real ends and the means used to human scale. And this crisis can not be overcome by any “return” (of which modernity vehemently agonizing trial), but is overcome by way of internal overflow, ie, in the core of the crisis, including it in his entirety, without getting into it, but transcending it inward.

* False establishes hermeneutic of suspicion. Use the fallacy that it is a lie that fascinates with its seemingly estrucutra innobjetable. Its ill effects develop slowly.

Or are caricatures truth or noble, or cruelly humorous agigantando perspective and leaving many others in the shade. It’s a good way to lower. It is always easy to laugh a thousand times, in public or private, of any value: honesty, nonviolence, modesty, but that leads only to lose the taste for that value and encourage the installation of anti-value and debasement of life.

Or used the slogan, with rich verbal and visual language, using the concepts most valuable and rich look absolutist and disfigure the whole.

* No longer provides postmodernism, an aversion to religion, and unless you force the field of privacy. It gives a diluted deism tends to reduce faith and religion to the sphere “spiritualist” and the subjective (where is a faith without mercy). For other corners arise fundamentalist positions, with which bare their helplessness and superficiality.

That wretched transcendence, not even enough to take over the limits of immanence, simply because there is not encouraged to limit any human touch or reach into any wound.

* Closely tied to this paradigm of Deism exists a process of emptying of words (words without dead weight, words that are not meat). It empties its contents, then Christ does not enter as a person but as an idea. There is an inflation of words. It is a culture nominalist. The word has lost its weight, is hollow. It lacks support, it lacks the “spark” that makes it alive and that is precisely the silence.


I would open a proposal: we need to create a culture of encounter.

In the culture of the fragment, as some have wanted to call, or non-integration, we are required even in hard times, not to favor those who seek to capitalize on the resentment, the neglect of our shared history, or wallow in weakening ties.

* Realistically incarnate. I never cease to be inspired by the suffering faces, vulnerable and anxious to provoke and engage in research, study, work and create more. The man, the woman, they should be the focus of our tasks.

The man of flesh and blood, with a particular historical and cultural belonging, the complexity of the human with its tensions and limitations, are not respected or considered. But it is he who should be at the center of our concerns and reflections. Human reality the limit of the law and specific and objective standards, the always necessary and always imperfect authority, commitment to reality, are insurmountable difficulties in this mentality before described.

Escape from virtual realities. And besides, the cult of appearance.

* You can not educate broken off from memory. Memory is unifying and integrative power. As the understanding left to its own forces desbarranca, memory come to be the vital core of a family or a village. A family of memory does not deserve such a name. A family that does not respect and attends to their grandparents, who are his memory alive, is a broken family, but a family and a people who are remembered are a family and a future town.

The key is not to inhibit the creative force of our own history, our history memoriosa. Education, in constant search for wisdom is a space provided for this exercise: rediscover the principles that allowed for a desire to rediscover the hidden mission there that is struggling to keep unfolding.

We see so many sick memory, blurred, torn into memories unable to go beyond the first evidence for flashes and entertaining fashion trends, feelings of the moment, full of opinions that hide the embarrassment sufficiency. All those who want to obscure fragments and deny history.

The change in legal status of our city, it can not mean “clean slate.” For which no past, there is nothing done. Everything’s future, we must do everything from scratch.

* From shelters cultural significance to the case. Be sought an anthropology that leaves aside any way “return” designed-more or less consciously-as cultural haven. Man tends by inertia, to rebuild what was yesterday. This feature is a consequence of the above. Modernity-losing footholds goals-uses “classic” (but in the sense of the classical world, the ancient world, not in the sense that we give) as an expression of what should be cultural. When being divided, divorced himself, confused nostalgia calling itself the transcendence of the immanent mediations longing also uprooted. A culture without roots and without unity does not hold.

* Universalism integrator through respect for differences. We enter this culture of globalization, from the horizon of universality. Instead of atoms that make sense only in the whole, we must integrate into a new higher order organicity vital assume ours but without canceling. We joined in harmony, without giving up our own, to something that transcends us.

And this can not be done by way of consensus, leveling down, but by the way of dialogue, the exchange of ideas and the exercise of authority.

* The exercise of dialogue, is the most human communication. And should be instituted in all areas, a serious dialogue space, conducive, not formal or distracting. Exchange destroys prejudices and build, according to the common search, sharing, but for trying the interaction of wills working towards a common or a shared project.

Moreover in times where it is said that we are “children of orphan information and communication.” It requires patience, clarity, good will toward the other. Not exclude the confrontation of different points of view, without making ideas are handled as weapons, but as light. Do not resign our ideas, utopias, property or rights, but only to give up the pretense that they are unique or absolute.

* The exercise of authority. Driving is always necessary, but this means part of the formality that gives cohesion to the body, which makes its function is not to take sides themselves, but be totally at the service. What is impoverishing to the dignity of life in society, the policy of fait accompli, impeding legitimate to take part, so formal that promote the reality!

Respect for own worldviews reporting from within the contents of the most diverse areas of knowledge, from beginner to teacher training is a must for those who govern, because for the observance of legitimate pluralism and freedom of teaching and learning.

To force all of us and that is the bond and life is revealed, it is necessary for everyone, especially those who have a high share of political, economic or any influence, interest or give up those same abuses seek to go beyond the common good that unites us, it is necessary to assume, with austere mood and grandeur, the mission imposed on us at this time.

* The exercise of open meeting spaces. In the rear of the shallowness and opportunism immediatist (flowers, without fruit) there is a people with a collective memory that retains walk with the nobility that characterizes it: the efforts and community projects, the growth of neighborhood initiatives, the rise so many self-help movements, are making a sign of the presence of God in a whirlwind of participation without particularisms rarely seen in the country. Our people, who can organize spontaneously and naturally, the protagonist of this new social link, asks a query, control and creative participation in all spheres of social life incumbent. Leaders must accompany this vitality of the new link. Empowering and protecting can become our main mission.

How not to think of school as a privileged space for sharing!

* Opening a committed religious experience, personal and social. The religious is a creative force within the life of humanity, history, and motivator of every existence which opens to that experience.

How to understand that in some educational environments are convened all topics and issues, but there is only banned, a large marginalized: God?

On behalf of a recognized as impossible neutrality, is muted and amputates a dimension that far from being harmful, can contribute greatly to the formation of hearts and life in society.

Not suppressing legitimate differences of conscience options or open treatment of what is related to one’s worldview, we will achieve a training in respect for every person and the recognition of diversity as a way to drive.

It seems that the public space has to be “light”, well liquefied, safe from any conviction, the only sustained is taking a stand in order to vagueness, frivolity or the interests of the owner of force.

EDUCATE what next? … EDUCATE

Against this background, which includes many family difficulties endogenous and exogenous, the economic, violence and disaffection, seem compelled to ask: How can we educate?, Yet can not unless you ask: How not to educate?. How not to continue to trust in education?.

No one understands the school, not the teacher, not the teacher. But neither understood without putting in the center of the human. And this comes about when structures, curriculum, programs, content, assessment, case management, struggling to take center stage

The postmodern culture presents a model of person strongly associated with the image of youth. It looks cute youth who, who performs treatments to remove the traces of time. The model is a model of youthful beauty, casual, casual. Our model is adolescent adult.

Links to adolescents as having new ways of feeling, thinking and acting. But at the same time they are seen devoid of critical ways of interpreting the world in which they live and hope for the future. These young schooled knowledge presented to them as outdated, meaningless. Devalue what schools presented as necessary to live in this society.

Teachers experienced, confident in their successful ways of teaching, are sometimes dark and distant world of the adolescent. That is, we have a teenager who is devaluing school and a teacher who does not know the questions teens. This is a misunderstanding.

They are also young people who have been invited repeatedly to the pursuit of pleasure, the source of satisfaction of desires instantly and painlessly, immersed in the culture of the image as a more natural habitat. The school presents knowledge as knowledge appears unappetizing and is considered unimportant. It emphasizes the sensory satisfaction, nor are tools that ensure social mobility or just access to employment.

Young people at school are not what they want. The modern school student receives a postmodern, could say with some ease, but not only this.

There is an imperative need for consistency. No exchanges of accusations serve. As a society we need to shed light, to overcome the mismatch, to avoid wasting energy building on the one hand what we destroy the other.

What to teach? The same variety and multitude of the knowable is immeasurable, how ordered in this multiplicity of what to teach, what to learn?. Based only on the material namely no genuine computer standpoint. The object of knowledge does not necessarily indicate an objective and perspective. The view computer must be in the man and in the encounter with the men, because education must help form, ie the formation of life. That point of view, even with all the necessary connection with the thing itself, should be both way, way of meeting the one who teaches and who learns to be a better understanding of themselves. Enhance understanding of themselves in relation to their time, their history, society, culture and the world.

Education must become smaller risk circumvent the mere distribution of knowledge. It is not just the selection of specific offers or content but also methods of interpretation and evaluation.

Teachers and students have to reach a common understanding cementing the desire for truth. Not only feel connected to things, but righteousness in the way of understanding existence.

You need an education in the fundamentals remain and remain the foundation.

There is the true, the beautiful, the good. There is all. It may, indeed, should know and perceive.

You need an education that promotes civil society screening (ie civilized or citizen). That education is a meeting place and common endeavors where we learn to be society, where society learn to be caring society. We have to learn new ways to build the city of man.


You all know of the growing needs of education as students, as alumni or parents. Also as business leaders surely have been linked to the world of school commitment to the so-called internships, education projects in community action. Today I ask you for the concern of education manifested in inviting me, it encourages me to ask in confidence sustained effort to accompany the development of a project of the Department of parochial schools of the Archdiocese for care and maintenance of structurally weak sectors or weakened, pointed towards the integration of the most needy, through the construction of community centers, that address diversity, poverty, family and education.

The Church is present in education, here in the Rio de la Plata, for almost 400 years. Just a college of the Society of Jesus, was the first in these parts. And we mean always present. The Church longs to be able to offer totally free education in areas where educational failure and problems are more acute in our city, as Lugano, Soldati, Mouth, Barry. Since we work in these areas, but we hope to multiply the presence and accompaniment, providing containment, training and monitoring, these kids and their families need.

Dear friends, education, the youngest of our society, and you expect a lot from us. Be the effort and the work being done. I also know the enthusiasm and ability, which can deploy in this crucial hour, for the future of education in our city.

A people that wants to conjure vacuum poverty and hopelessness. A people with memory, memory that can not be reduced to a mere recording. There lies the greatness of our people. Argentine warn our people a strong sense of their dignity. It is a consciousness that has shaped in significant milestones. Our people have souls, and that we can speak of the soul of a people, we can speak of a hermeneutic, a way of seeing reality, of consciousness. Today, in the midst of conflict, these people taught us not to pay attention to those who seek to distill reality into ideas that do not serve us intellectuals untalented or ethicists without goodness, but we must appeal to depths of our dignity as a people, appeal to our wisdom, to appeal to our cultural reserves. It is a revolution, not against a system, but inside, a revolution and tenderness memory: memory of the great deeds founding, heroic … And the memory of simple gestures that have sucked in family. Being true to our mission is to take care of this “afterglow” of the heart, take care of the ashes of oblivion cheats or presumption to believe that our country, our city and our family have no history or have started with us. Embers of memory condenses as fire grilled, the values ​​that make us great, the way to celebrate and defend life, to accept death, to care for the fragility of our poor brethren, to open hands severally liable to the pain and poverty, to celebrate and to pray, the illusion of working together and our common-poverty-knead solidarity.

Everyone is invited to this meeting to build the culture, to make and share this new ferment-both-is revivifying memory of our better history of sacrifice solidarity, anti-slavery groups and social integration.

Convincing us once again that the whole is greater than the part above the space time, the reality is superior to the idea and the drive is over conflict.

Finally, we often ask ourselves with some concern: what world we leave our children?. Perhaps it would be better ask: what children give to this world?


Jorge Mario Bergoglio S.J.


Tagged with: ,
Posted in 1999

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