Although the confessional nature of teaching Catholic religion in schools (IRC) can be misleading, it is not a class of catechism nor of religious “practice”, but an in-depth reflection on issues that frequently, in today’s society, are left on the margins of cultural and intellectual formation of the young generations. A training that – we have to admit it – is still leaning more and more towards acquisition of technical and scientific skills. The latter are obviously indispensable, but too often they go against the “ultimate sense” of things, condemning themselves to downfall. Pope Francis writes in Evangelii Gaudium: “Scientism and positivism refuse to “acknowledge as valid the forms of knowledge that are different from those characteristic to positive sciences”.
The Church proposes a different journey, which requires a synthesis between responsible use of methodologies typical to empirical sciences and other disciplines such as philosophy, theology, and faith itself, which elevates human beings up to the mystery that transcends nature and human intelligence. ( …) Our entire society can be enriched through this dialog that opens new horizons to thought and broadens the possibilities of reason. This is a journey of harmony and peace as well”.
The effects of this cultural marginalization of faith, on the other hand, are in plain sight: recent terrorist attacks of Islamist background have upset the thoughts of the Western world, which found itself unprepared to deal with the fact that some of its own children decide to abolish its rationality, committing to an ideology that cruelly abuses religious facts to hide its misdeeds. Back in 2006 a prophetic Pope Benedict XVI said the following to this regard: “Theology ( …) as interrogation on the reason of faith must have its place at the university and in the vast dialog between sciences.
This is the only way we can become capable of genuine dialog between cultures and religions – a dialog we need so urgently. In the Western world dominates widely the opinion that only positivistic reasoning and the forms of philosophy which derive from it are universal. But world’s profoundly religious cultures see this exclusion of the divine from the universality of reason as an attack on their most profound convictions. Reason that is deaf to the divine and which relegates religion to the realm of subcultures is incapable of joining the dialog between cultures. ( …) The west has long been endangered by this aversion towarsa fundamental questions of its rationality ( … )”
A proof of how much need there is today of teaching Catholic religion, are the current events themselves. It can be attested also by those Italian students who have chosen not to “waste” an hour at school, aiming merely at reduction, but to spend this hour discussing with a healthy training, on the cultural values of peace, equality, true freedom, openness to life and charity put into practice, which Christian history – and European history in particular – have been able to see throughout generations.