“Only by changing education can we change the world.” Those are the powerful words of Pope Francis who recently spoke to the Gravissimum Educationis Foundation, which was established in 2015 by the Holy Father, on the fiftieth anniversary of the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration Gravissimum Educationis. The foundation’s work centers on renewing the Church’s commitment to Catholic education in modern times.

According to The Holy See Press Office, Pope Francis implored Catholic education institutions to “respect three essential criteria.” Chief among them was exhibiting a strong commitment to their Catholic identity.

The Holy Father called for “consistency and continuity with the mission of schools, universities and research centres founded, promoted or accompanied by the Church and open to all.” Additionally, he said that those institutional values “are essential for following the way marked out by Christian civilization and by the Church’s mission of evangelization.”

In fact, only that steadfast adherence to the Church’s mission can lead students to “indicate what paths to take, in order to give up-to-date answers to today’s problems, with a preferential regard for those who are most needy.”

Pope Francis also stressed the need to offer a “quality” education “that must shed light on every enterprise of study, research and education.”

Thirdly, he told the assembly that their work “cannot overlook the goal of the common good” which he said is educating people of all “cultures, traditions, and faiths” that “we belong to one human family.”

For a Catholic educational institution to fulfil its mission, Pope Francis said, it must “lay its foundations in a way consistent with our Christian identity; establish means appropriate for the quality of study and research; and pursue goals in harmony with service to the common good.”

“A plan of thought and action based on these solid pillars will be able to contribute, through education, to building a future in which the dignity of the person and universal fraternity are global resources upon which every citizen of the world can draw,” he said.