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A commitment on the part of Catholic educators – faced with an increasingly fragmented and anonymous society -- to a family of truth, seen as a series of concentric circles (nuclear, parish, national, interreligious) as a general principle of Catholic education could be a valid alternative. A family of this kind could be a starting point for all the various religious communities committed to defending the sacredness of life.

John Paul II’s thinking on this subject (the Encyclical Centesimus annus, May 1, 1991, 39; cf. GS, 92) goes well beyond the nuclear family. He expresses the pastoral priority of giving a human face to contemporary society, conceived of as a family comprised of different cultures and religions. Just as the ecumenical commitment of the Church is guided by the theological principle of a “hierarchy of truths” (Unitatis redintegratio, 11), the fostering of a “family of truth” expresses the Church’s entire socio-cultural orientation. Just as the nuclear family allows each member to live his individual identity in relation to others, readily accepting different opinions and social roles within the group, the Church, by embracing cultural differences, with ‘Catholic’ fullness, is committed to forming bonds through dialogue, in full respect for the identity of the other. The ‘family of truth’ does not think of pluralism as a sterile, multicultural parallelism. It does not resign itself to irenic secularism and relativism, but responds actively, with the leavening of the Gospel, to the dynamics of cultural interaction at the service of unity in diversity (cf. GS 92). In keeping with John Paul II’s pastoral program for the third millennium, the ‘truth’ toward which the cultural and religious family is moving is the promotion of the sacredness of life and the name of God as “an imperative of peace” (Novo millennio ineunte, January 6, 2001, 55).

With a view to a concrete educational program for interculturality, the European Church (CEEC) should organize a round table of specialists as well as foster training of new pastoral ministers -- pastoral operators in the field of interculturality:

1)a round table of specialists, comprised of a) representatives from the Interdicasterial Commission on Sects and New Religious Movements (Propaganda Fide, the Pontifical Councils for Culture, Interreligious Dialogue, Ecumenism) as well as the Pontifical Council for Migrants; b) national and diocesan centres studying new religious tendencies (in Italy: The Socio-religious research and information society G.R.I.S. in Bologna); c) Missionary Institutes (repatriated missionaries); d) representatives of Caritas and other organizations in the field; e) specialists in pedagogy, missiology and dialogue.

- Task: monitor the situation at the European, national and diocesan level; develop pastoral-catechetic materials, revise scholastic texts, provide training programs for teachers and pastoral operators.

- Model: similar activities already underway in other European countries, i.e. SHAP (England), Missio, Misereor (Germany), etc.

2)New pastoral ministries (for qualified laymen), that will practice the diaconate of truth in the areas of training/informing, helping people find direction in a pluralist world:

The challenges in education. Recovering the past, promises, commitments

Italian Episcopal Conference, European Symposium, Roma 1-4 July 2004

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