Encounter of Scholas youth with the Pope at the Vatican

Vatican City, 20 May 2021. Teachers from seven regions of Italy have presented Pope Francis with the results obtained from the programmes developed during this last year of the pandemic, through which they provided fundamental support to their educational communities. As a result of this work, the Minister of Education, Patrizio Bianchi, and the Minister of Health, Roberto Speranza, present at the meeting, have expressed their support for continuing programmes to support and protect emotional health throughout Italy. This journey, which Scholas, the educational communities, the Ministry of Education and the Ministry of Health began fourteen months ago, will culminate in an International Meeting on Education and Emotional Health to be held in Rome next academic year.

Afterwards, young people from Valencia, Spain, communicated live with Pope Francis from the Levante Stadium, accompanied by Cardinal Antonio Cañizares, archbishop of Valencia, and the president of the Community of Valencia, Ximo Puig. The young people expressed their gratitude to Pope Francis for the educational experiences that are being realised, with the support of the Catholic University of Valencia, in public, private and joint schools five years ago and whose mission is to generate a culture of encounter through sport, art and technology. From the Scholas headquarters in the Vatican, the meeting was accompanied by Cardinal Juan José Omella, archbishop of Barcelona and president of the Spanish Bishops’ Conference.

A very special moment was lived when the Pope connected with Scholas’ new headquarter at Sidney, Australia, celebrating Scholas’ permanent presence in the five continents. There, Scholas will work jointly with the Australian Catholic University (ACU) , an educational initiative for the implementation of the Encyclical Laudato Si and Scholas’ Citizenship and Labs programs. In 2014 Pope Francis Pope Francis already connected with australian youth, whom expressed their desire to be part of the Scholas experience.

In connection with his home country of Argentina, Pope Francis surprised young people who were participating in the addiction prevention programme run by Scholas in the area of El Impenetrable, Chaco Province, with a team of educators who have moved permanently to the site to be with the young people and to implement activities to support them. The governor of Chaco Province, Jorge Capitanich, and the educational authorities showed Pope Francis how the educational workshops work and how the space has been transformed into a place for meeting and creativity.

The Pope greeted the people in the new Headquarter of Scholas in Washington DC, supported by Cardinal Gregory, archbishop of Washington. Monsignor José Gómez, archbishop of Los Angeles and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, also attended the virtual event. In 2019, Scholas implemented its citizenship education programme with Miami Public Schools, where young people addressed issues close to their hearts such as mental health and the presence and use of weapons in schools. Also that year at Fordham University, New York, the International Congress of Scholas Chairs was attended by 140 academics from around the world and the then Permanent Observer of the Holy See to the United Nations, Msgr. Bernardito Auza. On that occasion, the results of the Scholas Chairs projects in the various universities around the world were analysed, along with the need to build a bridge between college and university.

At the meeting, young people from Iraq, Colombia, Spain, Chile, United Arab Emirates, Brazil, Italy, Argentina, Mexico and Paraguay spoke to Pope Francis about how they experience the current political situation. They reflected on the Encyclical Fratelli Tutti and the need to create a new political formation to promote the common good and strengthen democratic institutions. The new Fratelli Political School is a joint educational proposal of Scholas Occurrentes and the Foundation Liderar con Sentido Común chaired by by Antonio Sola, the direction of which will be entrusted to Juan Ignacio Maquieyra.

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On 5 June, on International Environment Day, Pope Francis celebrated the creation of the Scholas Occurrentes Universidad del Sentido. Today, prestigious academics from different cultures and religions expressed their support for this initiative by submitting – after several months of work – to Pope Francis the document expressing the identity and mission of the Universidad del Sentido. The members of this commission are: Diane Moore, professor at Harvard University; Stefania Travagnin, researcher at the Faculty of History, Religion and Philosophy at the University of London; Souleymane Bachir Diagne, Senegalese philosopher and university

professor at Columbia University, Mpho Tshivhase, South African philosopher at the University of Pretoria, and Stefania Giannini, deputy director general for education at UNESCO. Pope Francis was accompanied at this moment, in addition to the world directors of Scholas, by Monsignor Vincenzo Zani, secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education.

The Ibero-American young people, who presented to Pope Francis the results of the Madrid meeting last weekend, were joined by the First Ladies of ALMA (Alliance of Spouses of Heads of State and Representatives), Fabiola Yañez from Argentina; Michele Bolsonaro, from Brazil; Cecilia More, from Chile; Ana García de Hernández, from Honduras; Yazmín Colón de Cortizo, from Panama; Silvana Abdo, from Paraguay, and Raquel Arbaje de Abinader, from the Dominican Republic. The First Ladies reaffirmed their commitment to continuing to promote the work of the young people of Scholas around the world.

At the end of the meeting, the Scholas educators from all over the world thanked Pope Francis for his witness and his confidence, giving him the book «Qué te pa», which expresses fully the result of the experiences of the young participants from the five continents.

The various links and moments were also attended by, among other civil and ecclesiastical authorities, the Ambassadors to the Holy See of Argentina, Maria Fernanda Silva; Australia, Chiara Poro and Spain, Carmen de la Peña. The meeting was accompanied in person by Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes, archbishop Primate of Mexico; Cardinal Juan José Omella, archbishop of Barcelona and president of the Spanish Episcopal Conference; Monsignor Lucio Ruiz, secretary general of the Vatican Dicastery for Communication; Monsignor Marcelo Sanchez Orondo, chancellor of the Pontifical Academy of Sciences; the Minister of Education Patrizio Bianchi; and the Minister of Health Roberto Speranza.

Sources: Scholas Occurrentes and Holy See Press Office

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