VATICAN CITY, 8 Feb, 2011, 12:00 Hrs (Zenit.org)

The Internet is a valuable tool for seminarians, not only in their studies, but also in their pastoral ministries, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope affirmed this today when he received in audience members of the Congregation for Catholic Education, gathered in their plenary assembly.The Holy Father spoke with the council members and its president, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, about a variety of issues related to education, both for seminaries and for Catholic schools and universities.”The topics you are addressing in these days have education and formation as the common denominator,” he noted, “which today constitute one of the most urgent challenges that the Church and her institutions are called to address.”

Though urgent, the task of educating is getting ever more difficult, the Pontiff warned, because of the culture that “makes relativism its creed.” Thus, “it is considered dangerous to speak of truth,” he lamented. But, “to educate is an act of love.”

The Pontiff noted the congregation’s discussion on a draft document regarding the Internet and the formation of seminarians. While emphasizing the need for well-prepared educators in this field, he spoke of the benefits of the Internet for future priests.

“Because of its capacity to surmount distances and put people in mutual contact, the Internet presents great possibilities also for the Church and her mission,” he said. “With the necessary discernment for its intelligent and prudent use, it is an instrument that can serve not only for studies, but also for the pastoral action of future presbyters in different ecclesial fields, such as evangelization, missionary action, catechesis, educational projects, the management of institutes.”

Benedict XVI went on to discuss the importance of theology in relation to the other disciplines of education.”Blessed John Henry Newman spoke of the ‘circle of knowledge,’ to indicate that an interdependence exists between the different branches of knowledge; but God is he who has a relationship only with the totality of the real; consequently, to eliminate God means to break the circle of knowledge,” he said.

In this regard, the Holy Father stressed the importance of Catholic universities, with “their openness to the ‘totality’ of the human being.” He said they “can carry out a valuable work of promoting the unity of knowledge, orienting students and teachers to the Light of the world, ‘the true light that enlightens every man.'”

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