Pope Benedict XVI Support of Catholic School Education Is a Lasting Legacy

The National Catholic Educational Association (NCEA) joins the world in mourning the passing of Pope Benedict XVI and fervently prays for the repose of his soul.

In April 2008, the pontiff visited the United States. His pastoral visit included an address at The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., focused on Catholic school education. In particular, he praised Catholic school leaders specifically calling out teachers, principals, diocesan superintendents, religious educators, catechists and university professors, presidents.

Himself a professor, Pope Benedict XVI empathized with Catholic school educators who must perform the everyday duties of fundraising, enrollment, discipline, lesson plans, etc. But his emphasis was the role of Catholic education as “First and foremost every Catholic educational institution is a place to encounter the living God who in Jesus Christ reveals his transforming love and truth (cf. Spe Salvi, 4).” His message focused on evangelization and the “Good News” working to guide teachers and students to contribute to the spiritual well-being of the Church.

As Catholics and Christians around the world mourn the passing of Pope Benedict XVI, we simultaneously strive to live out his message of evangelization within our schools to seek divine wisdom and uphold the truth of faith to help form the moral and spiritual conscience of the youth in Catholic schools.

His closing words as he imparted his Apostolic Blessing in 2008 ring true today: “To all of you I say: bear witness to hope. Nourish your witness with prayer. Account for the hope that characterizes your lives (cf. 1 Pet 3:15) by living the truth which you propose to your students. Help them to know and love the One you have encountered, whose truth and goodness you have experienced with joy.”