VATICAN CITY – Pope Benedict XVI said modern education is threatened by exaggerated rationalism on one hand and religious fundamentalism on the other.

In order to fight against this "educational crisis", church-run schools and universities should propose a distinctly Christian perspective, even as they welcome cultural and religious diversity, the pope said.

He made the comments Jan 21 to members of the Congregation for Catholic Education meeting at the Vatican.

The pope said the world today faces a double challenge: a rationalism "falsely liberated and unchained from every religious reference", and "fundamentalisms that falsify the true essence of religion with their incitement to violence and fanaticism".

Cultural pluralism raises new questions in education, he said. Clearly, a school cannot exclude anyone because of his or her cultural or religious identity, he said.

But it’s not enough simply to recognize such diversity, he said. The important thing is for people of differing cultural or religious backgrounds to speak to each other and understand each other.

And although the Catholic school is open to everyone and respects the cultural identity of each person, "it cannot fail to propose its own distinct educative, human and Christian perspective", he said. - cns

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