Julián Carrón (Photo: Fraternity of CL/Lupe de la Vallina)

Carrón: “Awakening the desire for a life full of meaning in young people”

The educational emergency aggravated by the pandemic, confusion among young people who feel lost. How should we respond? Vatican news interviews Fr. Julián Carrón.
Debora Donnini

This article has been translated from Italian. The original article in Italian can be read on vaticannews.va.

Starting again from education was the theme of the meeting broadcast online last night on the Communion and Liberation Youtube channel. The occasion followed the publication of a text by Fr. Julián Carrón, president of the Fraternity of Communion and Liberation, entitled “Educazione. Comunicazione di sé, un contribuito al patto educative globale lanciato da Papa Francesco” [Education. Self Communication, a contribution to the global educational pact launched by Pope Francis]. The meeting is moderated by journalist Monica Maggioni, and the speakers included Monsignor Angelo Vincenzo Zani, Secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education; Eraldo Affinati, writer, teacher and founder of the Penny Wirton School in Rome, and Fr. Julián Carrón himself who, in our interview, emphasizes the crucial task in regards to education.

The very context in which we are living, and which the pandemic has aggravated, is the one that has led us for some time now to talk about an "educational emergency". We perceive the problem of education as crucial, and therefore we have always been committed with the educational passion that we learned from Fr. Luigi Giussani. My contribution fits precisely into this situation: how can we answer to the questions of so many young people who are so lost, who find themselves in a situation of confusion, amid ever-growing uncertainty that makes them disorientated? The question we have in front of us is how can we awaken within them the desire to live, offering a meaning so that they become enthusiastic about living. Without this, we cannot communicate the new generations a reason for commitment, for living together with others, for creating a different world. Through many educational tools, we are trying to offer a contribution to respond to this situation.

The Pope has launched a global educational pact as a fundamental way to build a more fraternal and supportive world in peace and justice. It is a matter of putting creative processes into play, of educating in fraternity, rejecting the culture of waste. What dangers and challenges do you see in education?
In my opinion, the crucial question is how to make it possible for children and young people to have an experience in which they can sense and feel all the beauty of a life like the one the Pope describes. This will be possible if words like peace, fraternity, solidarity, become full of meaning, and, therefore, if we are able to offer young people spaces and places where the experience of these words becomes filled with life and meaning for them.

Many young people today face their decisions alone. It suffices to say that in Italy, looking at the latest data, there are over two million young people between the ages of 15 and 29 who do not study, do not work and are not undertaking training courses - 22% of the population in this age group, 33% in the South. How should we face the youth emergency of young people in Italy?
This data highlights that it is not good for a society not to be able to offer opportunities, paths, in which these young people can be awakened from their torpor, abandoning themselves to themselves, feeling involved in their lives. It thus reveals the severity of the situation. It is a challenge for the whole of society and at all levels - in the educational sphere, for families, the Church, associations, culture, even politics.

Communion and Liberation is rooted in the educational passion of Luigi Giussani with his experience at the Berchet high school in Milan. For Christians, it is central to communicate Christianity beginning from the encounter with the person, with Jesus?
It was a gift to meet a person who was passionate about education, about the life of those he met, as Fr. Luigi Giussani was. Thus, out of gratitude for what he communicated to us, we try to continue with that same passion, to continue to transmit the contribution that the Christian faith can offer. Only if we face life with hope that is certain, can we face not only the symptoms that we see in so many people - of fear or fragility or uncertainty - but that profound fear of which these are precise symptoms. For us, this profound fear, this bewilderment, only finds an adequate response in the event of Christ. This can be communicated through people who live this faith, with all the fascination it arouses in those who encounter it. That is why we are eager to offer our contribution by involving ourselves in the many attempts to respond that are already underway - from responding to children who have educational problems by generating places to accompany them after school, to people who are involved in responding to various types of hardship such as drugs, to people who are organising projects to respond to the abandonment of children, adopting them or welcoming them into the home, or even economic responses such as the Food Bank or others. Through such things, we are trying to offer help, with our resources, in the face of the emergency situation in which we find ourselves.