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The 3rd. International Conference of Pedagogy entitled: “Education in uncertain times: the place of Christian Humanism and of the Pedagogy of the Society of Jesus” will be held at the Faculty of Philosophy and Social Sciences of the Regional Center of Braga of the UCP (Universidade Católica Portuguesa) between 10-12 October 2019. Fr. José Mesa SJ, Secretary for Education will participate as Keynote Speaker at the Congress. In this blog we publish the official presentation of the Conference. For further details please see the documents in English, Spanish, French and Portuguese.

Presentation

The whole world, and particularly Europe, is going through very difficult times, caused mainly by a serious identity crisis. If the future, already doubtful, causes us so much uncertainty, we will add much more insecurity and anguish to our existence if we passively and carelessly despise our historical and cultural past.

We always bring with us a past and a culture, which guarantee us an identity, a way of being and behaving. To forget them or to deny them will increase the bewilderment, the suffering and all kinds of risks that threaten us as individuals and as human community.

While political, economic, and social decision makers remain preoccupied with the conquest and maintenance of power, the welfare of each person and common welfare tend to turn into chimeras that one or another idealist still stubbornly pursue in the name of altruism or a greater good. Machiavelli is still alive! The illiteracy and ignorance of the weakest of society are used and abused, but voters! Right and left radicalisms and populisms are conquering followers and walking dangerously and fiercely towards power. Some religions contribute to this Babel: by their way of proceeding, they divide, associate themselves with terrorisms, and discredit God Himself ˗ because they do not believe in man. Relativism, individualism, self-indulgence, “personal fulfillment”, hedonism … have been deified.

This Conference aims to contribute, with its reflection, to a New Humanist Reform, which should begin urgently, so that man, in the simultaneous use of reason and heart, can question his identity again, without compromising a millennial identity heritage resulting of so many and so valuable achievements at the civilizational level. Kant said that education is an art, the art of achieving the best possible development of human nature, the art of awakening and elevating the consciousness of each learner to the reality of their peers, the art of developing his autonomy, the ability to think for oneself. However, Christian Humanism and, within it, the pedagogy of the Society of Jesus, following Socrates, Plato, Aristotle, already had this very well explained in their educational “programs”. For the Society of Jesus, on the path of Christian values and on the line of the Spiritual Exercises, education means precisely reform, firstly of the person and, through him/her, of society.

The challenge we face in this Third Conference is to make our way, rediscovering ourselves through the awareness of what our identity means. The urgency of the meeting involves exchanging points of view, albeit different, and reflecting on our historical and cultural roots, starting with education, “confronting it”, in a constructive dialogue with areas of contemporaneity that are situated in “frontier” areas.

The present is undoubtedly synonymous with opportunity and hope. To be able to open new paths, in this encounter between tradition and actuality, between past and present, we are required courage, daring and creativity. Because the new paths must aim to strengthen a culture that draws us closer together, helps us live in and rebuild a community where truth is the sure foundation for a just, healthy and lasting peace.