Wednesday, June 04, 2008

Pope's Address to Ambassador of Bangladesh

"Democracy Needs More Than a Set of Rules to be Sustainable"

A robust democracy needs more than a set of rules to be sustainable; it requires citizens to embrace the underlying values which inspire democratic institutions and procedures, such as the dignity of the human person, a genuine respect for human rights, and a commitment to the common good as the guiding criterion for political life (cf. Centesimus Annus, 46).

A vibrant educational system is essential to strong democracies. Both the State and the Church have respective roles in helping families impart wisdom, knowledge and moral virtue to their children, so that they will come to recognize the dignity common to all men and women, including those belonging to cultures and religions different from their own. The Church seeks to contribute to this end by establishing schools that attend not only to the cognitive development of children, but the spiritual and moral as well. Insofar as these and other faith-based schools perform the public service of training young people in tolerance and respect, they should therefore receive the support they need, including financial assistance, so as to benefit the entire human family.

Long-term stability in the economic sector is organically linked to other spheres of civic life, including public institutions and a well-functioning educational system. The former promotes the efficiency and transparency that foster economic growth (cf. Centesimus Annus, 48), and the latter is "society’s most valuable tool for furthering development and economic progress" (Populorum Progressio, 35). For this reason, a nation’s economic goals must always be placed within the broader horizon of its moral, civil and cultural growth (cf. Centesimus Annus, 29). Furthermore, lasting economic development occurs as a result of the dynamic interaction between private initiative, public authority and the support of international organizations (cf. ibid., 10; 32; 49). For her part, the Church, in her constant solicitude for the integral good of the human person, echoes mankind’s aspirations to secure the material goods necessary for corporal and spiritual well-being (cf. Gaudium et Spes, 14). Indeed, she is firmly convinced that development is ultimately a question of peace, "because it helps to achieve what is good for others and for the human community as a whole" (Message for the 1987 World Day of Peace, 7).

I take educational system to mean what is in place to educate the populace, not necessarily something that has been imported from Western countries. How does one educate for sustainable development?

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