“We reiterate our deepest condolences to the relatives, the educational community, as well as the society of Torreon, for the sad deaths and the persons that have been injured in body and spirit.”

These words are part of a message published by the Conference of the Mexican Episcopate (CEM), after an 11-year-old boy shot a teacher of the Cervantes School in Torreon, in the state of Coahuila, Mexico, on Friday, January 10, 2020. Six other persons were wounded before the shooter shot himself, reported the local media.

Solidarity, Encouragement and Pastoral Path

 Seventy-two hours after the tragedy that occurred in the school, on January 12 the CEM’s Presidency and the Secretary-General, the Archbishop of the Province of Durango and President of the Prophetic Pastoral Ministry Commission, the Director of the Educational and Cultural Pastoral Dimension, as well as the Bishop of Torreon himself, Monsignor Luis Martin Barraza Beltran, offered “a message of solidarity, encouragement and pastoral path.”

The note invites to reflect on the documents of the Mexican Episcopate’s Conference “Educate for a New Society” and “May Mexico Have a Worthy Life in Christ, Our Peace,” and they remind that “workshops of education” also exist “for parents at the service of a new society,” as well as initiatives “to promote forgiveness, reconciliation, and peace.”

“Educational Emergency”

They also refer to Pope Francis’ ample reflection on the challenges of an “educational emergency,” which “will offer a way for a proposal of concrete service to humanity, with the Global Educational Pact, which will be signed in Vatican City on May 14, <2020>, with leaders from the academic, social, governmental sectors, and international organizations specialized in the educational field as well as representatives of different religions.”

In this connection, the Mexican Bishops are contributing a series of guidelines for reflection, and they exhort all ”to pass from consternation to purposeful action. Joint reflection and action can help us as a society to foster a constructive dialogue on this event.”

Integral Formation

 The first of these guidelines is to consider education as a task for all, not only of school institutions. “To educate requires a social alliance that enables us to build an ‘educational village’ in which each person can understand the meaning of his person, the natural and cultural surroundings in which he takes part, as well as the basic human institutions (. . . ) so that he is able to enter them and promote them.”

In the second place, they say that education implies “primarily to form in an integral way the interior life of the human being: his reason and intelligence, affections and passions, memory, imagination in a human dynamic, which is close and supportive. Therefore, our task is to recover the centrality of the human person in the educational life of the family, the school and the society.”

Areas of Dialogue and Encounter

 They also state that it is urgent “to dedicate the highest and best human and material resources to education, primarily in the family, school and social environment, as “children and young people need an educational alliance between the formal and informal academic world, in which are found the development of art, sport, scouting, religious and cultural life.”

 Outside of school time, these areas should be used for “relating, dialogue and constant encounter with others, where they can verify their existence in goodness, truth, and kindness.”

Call to Renewal

 They also appeal to parents “to renew themselves in their responsibility of being the first educators of their children, and to dialogue at all times with the school authorities (. . . ) to back one another mutually in their tasks.”

For their part, the Prelates manifest to the teachers their “highest esteem,” exhorting them “to renew their vocation of service and selflessness, stimulating efforts of legitimate association and promotion to respond in the best way to this Change of Era that we have to live.”

Finally, the message points out that, as global society, “we have the great challenge to build a humanity that changes the culture of death, with its multiple expressions (corruption, violence, consumption, destruction of the planet, indifference, contempt for human life, among others), into a culture of life, care, solidarity and restoration of human relations, the planet, democracy and the full State of Law.”

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