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

Educational administration|Education history|Education philosophy

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.