Santiago (Chile) - "We will begin a sort of long exegesis, in various instances, of what the Holy Father told us" says to Agenzia Fides Professor Patricio Bernedo, Dean of History, Geography and Political Sciences of the Pontifical Catholic University of Chile (PUCC) after Pope Francis' speech at the university headquarters. The Dean says he was surprised by the "long and straight forward message" that the Holy Father addressed to the world of culture and education. "I was especially touched by his recommendation for a search for knowledge that coherently combines reason, love and action ("It is necessary to teach people to think what they feel and do; to feel what they think and do; to do what one thinks and feels"), a very profound concept and a challenge". PUCC "was born with the need to strengthen the Catholic identity in the context of a State that approved liberal laws with which it claimed to marginalize Catholicism from the field of education", explains Bernedo. And he explains the reason for the Pope's gratitude to Rector Ignacio Sánchez for his "defense of the Catholic identity" of the institution: "During these 130 years, PUCC has always been confronted with this mission, which is present today in our classrooms. In society and in its relations with the State, PUCC promotes quality education for everyone, as asked by the students in the squares in 2006, in 2011 and which today we are discussing: free education and quality . And it is active in the public debate that studies how to achieve this goal. The Ministry of Education "listens but in the end boycotts private education", he complains. At present, he says, state schools are considerably below the educational level of private schools. "PUCC senses the students with the best scores, who are also those of the wealthiest families in the country", acknowledges the Dean, "but for some years has activated a system of scholarships for those who are less well-off with high performance".
Through programs of university pastoral care, praised yesterday by the Pope, the Catholic University contributes "to raising the educational level of the neediest a little, helps to building more worthy homes, to take care of their health (critical sector of social services in Chile) to cite some examples". "It is an aspect that clearly emerges in the work of PUCC professors, students and officials", he concludes. (SM) (Agenzia Fides, 18/01/2018)