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9. DISCOVERING THE NEW EDUCATIONAL EMERGENCIES

Wherever we are present we must know how to discover the new educational emergencies, for example, in certain contexts, the emergency of immigrants and refugees. The institute should not lock itself in, but remain open to the territory and to new demands. New experiences and new attempts can lead to the transformation of the institute and to value the structures in another way. This openness implies the readiness to measure ourselves with the major cultural themes of today: inter-culturality, the digital world and social networks, the contradictions of the world economic processes, the challenges of the environment and the care of the land …

Franco Zago

“Educational emergency” is an expression that arose years ago in some countries of Latin America regarding some educational measures that the governments wanted to implant in areas scarcely schooled or in need of special programs since they were poor and marginalized. Later, the expression took on a deeper meaning, eclipsing that which was originated by a few administrative measures, implemented in some countries. In our environments it spread mainly from one of the speeches of Benedict XVI. The most well-known of these, although not the first, the Pope pronounced before the Italian bishops in 2010. Reflecting on the challenges that the present culture presented to educators and parents, the pope was expanding on the roots that were creating such an emergency in order to guide the appropriate responses. Since then this happy expression has been used and commented on in many areas (ecclesiastical, institutional, social, political, secular, etc.) and by many categories of people (educators, pedagogues, intellectuals, politicians and obviously those responsible for schools and youth groups ). Depending on the context treated and the point of view of those who made use of such concept, it has assumed diverse and specific tones.
The title on point 9 of the Conclusions of the Pedagogical Seminar is an example of this, with a specific approach that seeks to motivate and promote openness in our pastoral work, to make it more in keeping with the demands of the present time. To better define its interpretation I have preferred to develop the reflection based on some concepts that seem to me to be key.
Educational emergency
The expression in itself takes on a meaning of both urgency and priority. It does not merely suggest that we must hurry to do something, but also that we must attend to it before other things that we have at hand, even if they are equally important. However, talking about haste in education or pastoral care is almost a contradiction, because we know how these require slow paces, which are measured in years. Of course we can never say that education is a fast process, but we can understand that it is something urgent and with priority. Then we can stay with this interpretation. And since we do not always have a 360 degrees vision for capturing the urgencies and priorities in our work, those reflections or provocations that broaden our horizons and motivate us to take action in the direction that the present times and Our Institutions demand us, are welcomed.

Church on the move
In order to “really discover new educational emergencies” I see no other way than the attitude suggested by Pope Francis in the Evangelii Gaudium (23 and 24): to be “Church on the move “. Most of us like the style of Francis, his simplicity and his closeness to the people, his concern to guide the Church towards new directions; We like even his provocations and his new language. But, we must recognize that it is not easy to take actual action in the direction he proposes. Because, in short, it is about moving from the position where we are comfortable, installed and safe, to go to something new and diverse. Because it costs change, conversion, leaving the religious and traditional wombs, of what we have always done. We need the stripping off of certain comforts and affective detachment; These are the gifts that we must ask of the Lord, because good intentions are not enough. The reform of the Church that the pope is insistently pursuing concerns not only the Vatican and the Curia but also all levels where the disciples of Christ operate: Institutions, schools, parishes, activities, groups, initiatives … The Church-on the move is the institute / the community / the person who, with eyes open on the reality of the environment (the people), offers himself, by fidelity to the charism, in favor of the most vulnerable human beings. In order to be a Church-on the move, really going out to meet people, we need not only to change our attitudes and our eyes, but also our language, because the people, especially the young people we are going to meet, do not understand what we say and still less understand certain complicated, theological expressions or concepts, little understood in today’s culture. The best language, then, will be made not so much of words, but of gestures, of open doors, encounters and available moments .

Fear
Among the various resistances that we face in assuming an active attitude of commitment to be Church-on the move is certainly the comfort and the inclination to the status quo, etc. But, perhaps the strongest obstacle is fear. I quote again from Pope Francis: “Fear is an attitude that hurts us. It weakens us, it dwarfs us. It also paralyzes us … There are fearful communities, which always go to safety: ‘No, no, do not do this, no, no, this cannot be, this cannot be …’. It seems that at the front door they have written ‘forbidden’: everything is forbidden, out of fear. And you enter that community and the air is vitiated, because it is a sick community. Fear sickens a community. The lack of courage makes a community sick “(05/15/15). And in the EG it says “I prefer a Church that is bruised, hurting and dirty because it has been out on the streets, rather than a Church which is unhealthy from being confined and from clinging to its own security” (49). ,. It is that we are all a bit victims of the “pedagogy” of fear, instilled by the Media, which almost always reveal bad news, threats, dangers. We need to get into a healing process of fear. Goodwill is not enough, therefore “we must ask for the grace of courage, the bravery of the Holy Spirit who sends us” (05/15/15).

Lack of time
We find another obstacle in the lack of time. ‘The responsibilities and tasks I have in my day leave me no room to do anything else.’ We are so convinced that we do not get tired of repeating it everywhere. However, one may wonder how much of an excuse there is in this thought and how much objectivity there is. In the office of an Argentine politician I have read on a poster: “There is no lack of time for important things, there is lack of motivation and interest.” We know that time is a scarce resource, but it is for everyone and not just for those who complain that they lack it. We must admit, however, that we have probably not learned to structure the distribution of time, because we have not learned to plan and / or we do not know how to delegate. It is a habit that is learned little by little and at the cost of errors; it is sufficient to find good motivations. It also depends on the habit of prioritizing and periodically reviewing if we assign them correctly. And it is only when one manages to know how he uses his time, that he can judge whether he uses it in what corresponds. When we really believe in something, because we feel challenged or called to it, then we know also to find the time, since we see it as an opportunity that the Lord offers us.

Moral Frontiers
The openness that the statement appeals in order to “measure ourselves with the great cultural themes of today” claims the acceptance of all people, regardless of their religious affiliation or their ideological or moral status, etc. However, in reality, when we meet people from other cultures, distant from ours, we could face a struggle: their value beliefs and their moral practice. It will cost us to accept not so much believers of other religions or people without religion, but those who have moral values distant, even, contrary to ours. We, as persons of faith and church goers, are deeply rooted in our moral system. We present ourselves as teachers in doctrines and norms, and we find it difficult to get rid of these. If someone is outside our moral vision, we take it into consideration in order to attract it, sooner or later, within our sphere. But this is how we construct moral boundaries. We are not asked to water our moral codes to accommodate to the other; Nor are we asked to have an indifferent attitude towards his morality. Be careful not to interject moral filters. Our fidelity is to Jesus and his Gospel, and from this fidelity we are invited to believe in people, as they are, because they are individuals with rights and, above all, children of the same Father, beyond their moral practices. It will be important, then, to recognize the needs of people who disagree with us and to legitimize them. Here the true welcome can be measured.

Enthusiasm
The invitation of the pope to be Church-on-the move is giving opportunities to Christians, along with hope; we are regaining the feeling of being a spiritual home that welcomes everyone; a home where the existential peripheries are gaining centrality. It is a pioneering Church that takes initiatives, even in asking forgiveness, because she also recognizes herself as a sinner. It is good, therefore, to take advantage of this wave of enthusiasm to review our pastoral ministry. In pastoral ministry we cannot say that we have something consolidated to continue doing the usual without questioning. Although accumulated experience helps us to discern and make decisions, we can also say that in pastoral ministry we are always beginning. Let’s walk from start to finish. At the same time we must be certain that we have an inexhaustible source of security and enthusiasm: our charism, which is our GPS, a GPS that is constantly updated.

To reflect and work
1. In our Institution, in our activity or mission what do we consider urgent and primary? What emergencies have we discovered around us?
2. How to reconcile the continuity of current pastoral activity with the pope’s call to be Church-on the move ? Have we experienced deprivation and detachment in our lives?
3. Sometimes we present ourselves as people equidistant from the political, economic, ideological, etc. systems. If, on the one hand, it is good not to “marry” with anyone, on the other hand, how much does the fear of taking sides in favor of the vulnerable in our environment and of calling the perpetrators of injustice by its name condition us? Have we planned in the community, group or team a reflection on the struggles that fear produces?
4. It would be well to analyze from time to time the percentage we dedicate to these two situations:
a) How much time do we spend talking about poor, vulnerable, needy, etc.?
b) How long have we really been with them, have we talked, listened, embraced or defended them?
5. How to reconcile our fidelity to the Gospel with the reception of people who live another moral practice? Can morality be a wall that, without realizing it, we are raising around us?
6. Is charism a recharge of enthusiasm and courage to respond to new emergencies?

Franco Zago

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