Pontifical schools also addressing needs of laity

“The kind of society we want tomorrow depends on the higher education that we have today,” said Father Friedrich Bechina, FSO. The Undersecretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education at the Vatican joined The Lay Centre community for weekly Mass and supper Nov. 9.

He spoke with The Lay Centre community about the goals and purpose of Catholic education.

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Father Friedrich Bechina, FSO, with The Lay Centre students

 “The universality of the Catholic Church allows us to have a more integral approach to education,” he said.

The church also has in its possession an incredible opportunity to learn together, with its global network of schools, he said. Currently, there are 214,000 Catholic schools in the world with 60 million students, including schools for people in difficult situations, such as in refugee camps, that typically would not have access to good education.  

By spreading the gift of education to those who desire it, the Church is able “to steer and fuse” a path filled with “fulfillment served for the common good,” never ceasing to shape and to transform the world into a more just place.

Rome, in particular, has a very specific role to play in the pursuit of these quests, he said. The Eternal City is a hub, where students of diverse countries come together with the aim of expanding their knowledge and faith. Father Bechina said the mission of pontifical universities of Rome is being constantly revaluated, based on the general changes and trends in higher education, but also based on developments in vocations and religious life.

“More and more we have lay students like you (at The Lay Centre), coming to Rome, looking for a integral formation,” he said. “Even if sometimes there are difficulties, more bishops are requiring better qualifications from the laity. The pontifical system has to address that as well.”

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