VATICAN CITY — Among his many traits, retired Pope Benedict XVI is well-known as a brilliant professor. But how many people know about Pope Francis’ early ties to teaching and education?
Teaching is a normal part of the Jesuit vocation, and the future pope started out teaching high school literature and psychology right after he got his degree in philosophy. Then, after getting his theology degree, he continued teaching, this time theology and philosophy, and served as a rector of a major seminary in Buenos Aires.
The pope’s experience and insight inspired him to always encourage educators and teachers.
And now a new book, released this month, compiles the reflections, messages and talks he gave to teachers and educators in Argentina between 2008 and 2011.
The book, “Education for Choosing Life,” is being published in English by Ignatius Press. It shows how the pope sees education as “an act of hope” and how faith and the Christian vision of humanity fuel that hope.
He also expresses the need for passion and creativity as added weapons against the spirit of the “mundane” that’s seeking to numb, distract or discourage our youth.
The book is available in other languages through other publishers, but the Ignatius Press’ English-version can only be sold in the U.S., Canada and Mexico, according to the publishers’ website.
Pope Francis’ unique approach to teaching made a huge impact on at least one of his former students, and you can read our story about it right here.
The same March 1 “La Civilta Cattolica” article with Jorge Milia included an article the young Father Bergoglio wrote for the high school’s annual publication for the students, parents and alumni in 1965.
The piece focuses on the importance of teaching young people to discern truth from rhetoric and “the song of the Sirens.”
He wrote that we are accomplices in “the tragedy of truth being welcomed just halfway” unless we are sure young people are prepared to go out into the world with the full guidance and expression of the truth.
When graduates go on to university or elsewhere, will they know how to use “the sword” of truth expressed clearly, forcefully and completely against “the noisy skylarks of eternal students, the huge bigmouths at the service of error, who are like giant pots: the emptier the vessel, the more sound they make?”
Rhetoric and lies can be “brilliant and seductive,” Father Bergoglio wrote. Too often when trying to teach about truth, teachers and adults stop halfway “with ice cold timidity, incapable of addressing the message to others with the luminosity of the whole truth.”
The future pope wrote that the problem isn’t just knowing what the truth is and being dedicated to it, it’s also knowing how to express it “with brilliance and fruitfulness.” And that can only be done, he wrote, by trying to live like Jesus — reflecting deeply on the truth and expressing it definitively, courageously and clearly as an act of love.