On World Environment Day, Pope Francis inaugurated the University of Meaning

The announcement was made during the World Youth, Teachers and Parents Meeting. It will be managed by the Pontifical Scholas Occurrentes.

“Given this new crisis that humanity is currently facing, I want to celebrate that Scholas, as a community that educates, as an intuition that grows, is opening up the University of Meaning”, said His Holiness at the virtual office of the foundation.During the cyber meeting on World Environment Day, nine First Ladies from Latin America and the Caribbean took part and read various passages of the papal encyclical Laudato Si’ on care of our common home, planet Earth.

Pope Francis wanted to take part as just another attendee among the thousands of screens to celebrate in communion the “Party of Meaning,” an online event held by the Pontifical Scholas Occurrentes Foundation that featured many special guests and major announcements.

On this special day, established as World Environment Day by the UN, His Holiness wanted to take part with thousands of youths from 170 cities from all around the world. The online meeting held by Scholas began by going over the reports and milestones of this foundation under the mantle of a special figure, Mnemosyne, the embodiment of memory in Greek mythology. This historical review started with a crisis that drove change to find a new education. This review was guided by its two global directors, José María del Corral and Enrique Palmeyro.

As part of the foundational milestones, Lionel Messi and Gianluigi Buffon were featured, two top international sportsmen that back in 2013, in the Vatican City, were part of its launch. The review then led to other significative milestones throughout the past years that have shaped what is today Scholas: the Meeting between Israeli and Palestinian youths, between US and Cuban youths, the magical meeting at San Antonio de los Cobres, in Argentina, and the transformation of its bridge of death into a bridge of life, among many others.

Additionally, it helped to remember how Scholas has gradually built bridges and opened doors all around the world, by opening 15 regional offices, in 190 countries, among the most recent: Mozambique, Haiti, United States, Japan, Chile, and now its “virtual” office.

This virtual meeting also featured several First Ladies of Latin America and the Caribbean, representatives of the Alliance of Spouses of Heads of State and Representatives, ALMA, and the Spouses of CARICOM Leaders Action Network, SCLAN, who read several passages of Pope Francis’ papal encyclical Laudato Si’ on care of our Common Home.

Fabiola Yáñez, from Argentina; Kim Simplis Barrow, from Belize; Michelle Bolsonaro, from Brazil; María Juliana Ruiz, from Colombia;  Claudia Dobles Camargo, from Costa Rica; Rocío González de Moreno, from Ecuador; Ana García de Hernández,  from Honduras; Yazmín Colón de Cortizo, from Panama;  and Silvana Abdo, from Paraguay, presented a video showing the youth of their countries how to answer the call of Pope Francis to take care of the environment through the Culture of Getting Together. 

If education doesn’t listen, it doesn’t educate

During the virtual meeting, Pope Francis addressed the Scholas community: “Education creates culture, or else it doesn’t educate. if it doesn’t listen, it doesn’t educate. Education teaches us to celebrate, or else it doesn’t educate. Some might think ‘But, isn’t educating knowing things?’ That’s knowing, but eduating is listening, creating culture, and celebrating. And that’s how Scholas grew. Not even these two mad men, the “founding fathers” we could call them, jokingly, thought that the educational experience in the Diocese of Buenos Aires, after 20 years, would grow as a new culture.“

Additionally, he underscored his message about the three languages: “The language of the mind, the heart, and the hands, synchronized. Mind, heart, and hands growing harmoniously. At Scholas, I’ve seen Japanese teachers and students dancing with Colombians. Impossible? I’ve seen it! I’ve seen Israeli youths playing with Palestinians. I saw them! Haitian students thinking with students from Dubai. Children from Mozambique painting with Portuguese children. I saw an olive tree between East and West creating a culture of getting together.

He added, “That’s why, given this new crisis that humanity is currently facing, in which culture proved to have lost its vitality, I want to celebrate that Scholas, as a community that educates, as an intuition that grows, is opening up the University of Meaning, because educating is finding the meaning of things. Bringing together the dreams of children and youths and the experience of adults and the elderly , this gathering must always take place, or else there’s no humanity, because there are no roots, no history, no promise, no growth, no dreams, no prophecy.”

Before the Holy Father’s comments, as it was in the origin, there was an interreligious message for World Environment Day by the Imam Abdel Naby Elhefnawy, of the Islamic Center of the Argentine Republic; the Chief Rabbi of Jerusalem  Rabbi Shlomo Amar, and Cardinal Carlos Aguiar Retes, from Mexico.

Several sports, art and science figures as well as social leaders and representatives of different religious communities also joined the youth.

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