Between the 8th and the 14th of March 2011, 31 young Christians of the JECI-MEC European Coordination gathered in Birštonas, Lithuania for a colloquium to reflect on “Integral Education and Christian Faith”. As a result of our experiences, reflections and discussions during the colloquium, we present a statement on the conditions, needs and means of education in a Catholic way. In order to avoid any misunderstandings and differentiate our understanding of education from others, we introduce the term “Integral Education”.
I. What is Integral Education based on?
We as Catholics hold the view that life’s goal is to search for and to draw close to the truth – not merely subjective, but also objective truth. Both individuals and the community of the Church search for the truth using different methods. Every individual searches for the truth using his or her own experience of life. However, the Church draws on two sources during this journey towards the truth – both Tradition and the Scriptures.
II. Why is Integral Education needed?
We as young Catholics have heard of and reflected on three major issues concerning individuals and society. We wish to express what we believe is our way of responding to these issues:
1) The issue: Often human beings are reduced to objects valued simply in terms of their usefulness. People are often judged superficially according to external criteria.
What we believe: Each person is unique and made in the image of God. Therefore a person is more than just a set of characteristics.
What we see to be done: We must always work to respect the dignity and uniqueness of every human person.
2) The issue: Society itself is often viewed in materialistic or mechanistic terms, where communities are not able to flourish.
What we believe: Society should be understood as an unconditional love-based relation between people; that is a community of communities.
What we see to be done: In our work and activities we will promote and practice the idea of the common good through solidarity and subsidiarity.
3) Issue: In the modern world the rights of individuals can be promoted in such a way that the common good is not served. For others, society is developed, so that the rights and the dignity of the individual are not valued.
What we believe: Every person lives in the context of his or her own society. We believe in a creative dynamic between the rights of the individual and the growth of a real society.
What we see to be done: Society should base its human relations on the value of charity, understood as unconditional love for the other person.
Recognizing the fact, that we, as imperfect creatures, will never be able to fulfill our suggested values fully, we search for the best solution within human measures. This solution, according to us, is Integral Education.
III. What is Integral Education?
We as Catholics hold the view that Integral Education is defined by its purposes.
1) To form a whole, well-rounded person, who is able to act responsibly and who is free enough to make individual life-choices.
2) To form a citizen, who is able to make life-choices guided by the common good.
The process of Integral Education actively enables people to act responsibly and beneficially. Integral Education does not only mean that people are taught or receive education but are also enabled to teach others. In this understanding Integral Education has got the third purpose
3) To form multipliers of knowledge, skills, attitudes, values, and spirituality amongst others.
IV. What is our plan of action?
What follows is a plan of action based on the statement previously presented. This plan holds for all stages of any educational systems and is a list of practical suggestions which may be adopted and implemented in the view of local community needs.
– Encourage experiential learning for personal and social development through extracurricular activities such as outdoor education, civic education, and learning through games
– Reflection and dialogue on the Scriptures and issues of public interest, with the aim of finding ways of acting responsibly after becoming aware of societies’ needs
– Learning through the knowledge and experience of experts
– Support the continuous professional development of teachers
– Collaboration with other organizations including secular ones
– Organization of collaborative learning through a peer-learning-system or a tutoring system
– Multicultural education through student exchanges such as Erasmus
– Promotion of the statement of the Colloquium to people in power, (which would include the European Youth Forum), following a pilot study of these suggestions
 As expressed by the Magisterium of the Church.