Pontifical Council for the Pastoral
Care of Migrants and Itinerant People
Greetings from the Anglican Communion
The Very Rev. David Richardson
Representative of the Archbishop of
Director of the Anglican Centre,
It is a great pleasure and an honour to be with you again this year at this III World Congress for the Pastoral Care of International Students with its theme of International Students and Meeting of Cultures.
I bring greetings and prayers for this Congress from His Grace, the Archbishop of Canterbury. As his permanent Representative to the Holy See I also represent today the whole Anglican Communion. As an Australian, some of the experience out of which I will speak is from that context.
Part of the function of a good working university is to form critical and active citizens. Indeed a number of recent writings about the priorities of the university have underlined this notion of the university as being responsible for citizenship - not by providing courses in citizenship, as might a secondary school, but by equipping people with the skills and the virtues needed in a critical and active citizen.
One of the characteristics of what might be loosely described as a liberal education is the notion of educating people in order to equip them to live a "good" (in the sense of virtuous) life. Living well implies living fully (St Irenaeus); living fully implies the engagement of the whole person. It also implies the whole person engaging with other whole persons in ways that respect their integrity and recognise human social mutuality. In other words education is about more than academic learning; it also involves social learning. We educate each other and we have responsibilities towards each other. Education at the University, as the Blessed John Henry Newman so powerfully argues in his "Idea of a University," is about equipping the student for a life of wholeness, service, virtue….
That is why catering for the spiritual needs of students is more and moreregarded as being as important as catering for their academic and intellectual needs. Students need pastoral care not only to face the occasional challenges of the common life they will live at university - whether as undergraduates or as more mature students - but also because the effectiveness of their learning, and indeed the teaching they receive, will depend in part on their spiritual balance as well as that of their teachers. One can imagine institutions of learning where the academic results are brilliant but from which the students emerge impoverished and ill equipped to lead the kind of generous and virtuous lives society (the good society) would aspire to.
In a profoundly secular age it is perhapssignificantthat our universities seem
often readily to acknowledge the importance of catering for the pastoral and
spiritual needs of their students. In the
One would hope that this approach might be respected and replicated in places of learning around the world. It is a question that demands close inspection especially as we globalise; and no sector is more globalised now than educational provision especially at the tertiary level. Some background statistics might help us here:
Today there is unprecedented global educational mobility, with over 4 million students studying abroad this year. This number has doubled in the last ten years.
In 2011 the number of Chinese students studying abroad will have approached
The countries or regions which do the most "receiving" in absolute and relative terms are in western Europe and North America; Australia has the highest proportion of international students in its universities (close to 25%).
Students in the West from non-western backgrounds are thus likely to be isolated, undertaking long programs of study at a great distance from family and community.
The "Meeting of Cultures" is thus real but not equal; some students can experience another culture on their own terms, almost as "educational tourists" with strong support structures and the safety net of a return home not far in the distance; others experience the other culture as water they must swim in but often without real support.
Many of the universities are now far from the Blessed John Henry Newman's ideal of a community seeking truth, but see their purpose as for narrowly-focussed training; yet these courses and their students are often important to the aspirations of individuals and nations for economic security and opportunity.
The Church, including both the Roman Catholic Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion, is strong (but not uniformly so) in both many sending and many receiving countries.
In many of these settings the Anglican Church is strongly involved, as is the Roman Catholic Church, with the pastoral care not only of its own members but of students from diverse backgrounds.
Foundation year programs are common in the
Trinity receives between 600-800 students from East and South-East Asia, the
I return to the question I raised a few minutes ago: one would hope and expect that best practice ways of supporting international students might be respected and replicated universally in places of higher learning - not least because the exchange of students across the globe is two way, of mutual benefit, being in the interests of the less developed as well as the developed nations.Religious belief is not only belief about God; it is also belief about human beings. What is non-negotiable in faith is not simply a set of doctrines about the transcendent, but a set of commitments about how human beings are to be regarded and responded to. It is this vital area, focusing particularly on international students and the meeting of cultures; that is your topic. The theme of this congress is therefore of huge importance; I wish you every blessing in your explorations.