Pope Benedict Says Religion in School is an Example of Mutual Respect

By Susan Brinkmann, OCDS
Staff Writer

While speaking to a group of Italian religion teachers, Pope Benedict XVI said that learning religion in school is not interference in one’s freedom, but an example of mutual respect.

According to a report by Zenit News, the Pope spoke to the group during a conference they were attending in Rome. 

“Far from being an interference in or a limitation to liberty, your presence is a valuable example of that positive spirit of secularity that permits the promotion of a constructive civil coexistence, founded in mutual respect and loyal dialogue, values that a country always needs,” the Holy Father said.

The study of religion offers not only useful knowledge, but “favors reflection on the deep meaning of existence,” he said.

“This is possible because this teaching puts the human person and his inviolable dignity at the center, allowing itself to be enlightened by the unique experience of Jesus of Nazareth, about whom it seeks to investigate his identity, which does not cease to question man ever since 2,000 years ago.”

He added: “Thanks to the teaching of the Catholic religion, schools and society are enriched with true laboratories of culture and humanity, in which, discovering the significant contribution of Christianity, the person is prepared to discover the good and to grow in responsibility.”

In order to achieve this, he said, a religion teacher should not be prepared only at the human, cultural and pedagogical level, but above all, he has a vocation to show “that the God of whom you speak in the classroom is the essential reference point of your life.”

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