Education as a path to love: A leadership perception of Benedict XVI's challenge to Catholic education

Stefano Del Bove, Fordham University


This qualitative study presents a renewed definition of Catholic education based on the theological notion of love-caritas-agape which Benedict XVI describes in the encyclical Deus Caritas Est (2005). The traits of love illustrated in the first part of the encyclical have been developed within a model of education enriched by the contributions of contemporary scholars as Bernard Lonergan (philosophy of education), Martin D'Arcy (anthropology), Paulo Freire (political education), Avery Dulles (theology) and Franco Imoda (psychology). ^ Benedict XVI's notion of love-caritas-agape draws together significant themes of Ratzinger's thought (communio, faith-reason, ethics of witnesses, etc.) and is developed in his further papal teaching. ^ According to Benedict XVI, love can be an essential animating force of Catholic education within the nature and mission of the Church; it is a form of evangelization, an authentic answer to the current educational emergency. ^ Moreover, Catholic education is a Church work of charity and mercy. According to Benedict XVI, this emphasis on love and its educational consequences should make the development Catholic education a priority for the pastoral programs of bishops and for the agenda of international leaders. ^ The findings of 'elite interviews' to international leaders of Catholic education completed this investigation revealing a generic perception of the potentiality of Benedict XVI's teaching about love as well as of the way he is challenging Catholic institutions to answer the current educational emergency. ^ International leaders of Catholic education are open to discuss these issues (because of their loyalty to the Church as institution), even if they show a general perception of how Benedict XVI's emphasis on love could challenge Catholic education. ^

Subject Area

Education, Administration|Education, History of|Education, Philosophy of

Recommended Citation

Del Bove, Stefano, "Education as a path to love: A leadership perception of Benedict XVI's challenge to Catholic education" (2008). ETD Collection for Fordham University. AAI3312044.