Pope Francis and 16 other religious representatives praised the work of teachers and educators around the world in a letter released October 5, during an interfaith meeting. The event was organized on the occasion of World Teachers’ Day, and aims to highlight the Global Compact on Education, a major educational initiative promoted by the Pontiff since September 2019.
In their common message, the religious leaders thanked teachers for their “sacrifices in fulfilling the noble mission of educating new generations.” They encouraged them, “despite the difficulties and challenges of our time, made worse by the pandemic.”
In the letter, the representatives describe the keys to a comprehensive and inclusive education and call on all nations of the world to give due value to teachers and their mission. The text was symbolically given to Stefania Giannini, Deputy Director General for Education of UNESCO, the Congregation for Catholic Education explained in a statement.
The meeting was titled “Religions and Education: Towards a Global Compact on Education” and was held at the Vatican. Its aim was to bring together global religious representatives to share their commitment to education for peace and justice.
Among the representatives were the Patriarch of Constantinople Bartholomew I, the Grand Imam of Al-Azhar Ahmad el-Tayyeb and Rabbi Noam Marans, responsible for interreligious matters for the International Jewish Committee.
They discussed the major issues facing education in these times and their interventions will be published in a collection to contribute to the Pact, the statement said.
To the other representatives, Pope Francis underlined in a brief speech:
We are concerned to ensure an integral formation that can be summed up in knowledge of ourselves, our brothers and sisters, creation, and the Transcendent.
The Holy Father noted how “religions have always had a close relationship with education.” But he considered how today’s perspectives have changed from the past in many areas.
Differences that in the past “set us at odds” now invite us to educate for “peaceful coexistence in mutual respect.”
In this context, he spoke against discrimination against ethnic, cultural, political and other minorities, and called for the rights of women, children and the most vulnerable.
He also spoke of the need to take care of our common home, as stewards of “the creation entrusted to us by God.”
Presented on September 12, 2019, and then postponed due to the pandemic, the Global Compact on Education was officially presented on October 15, 2020, during an event at the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome.