Pope Francis’ Global Compact on Education Postponed to October

The calendar change is the second major papal event planned this year to be put back because of the coronavirus.

Pope Francis greets participants of Plenary of the Congregation for Catholic Education.
Pope Francis greets participants of Plenary of the Congregation for Catholic Education. (photo: Vatican Media)

VATICAN CITY — Pope Francis’ Global Compact on Education has become the latest key papal event of 2020 to fall victim to the coronavirus and has now been postponed from May until October, the Vatican announced today.

In a statement, the Congregation for Catholic Education said the decision was taken because of “uncertainty linked to the spread of the Coronavirus” and because it wanted to “allow the widest and most serene participation possible.”

To try to contain spread of the virus, public authorities have imposed severe restrictions in various areas, curtailing travel plans and public events.  

The education pact, which Pope Francis said last month is an appeal to rebuild a “village of education” that “must be revolutionary” and aims to overcome “division and antagonism,” was to take place on May 14 with a series of complimentary events May 10-17. It will now be held Oct. 11-18 and the Pact signed Oct. 15. The event will bring together representatives of religions, international bodies and the various humanitarian institutions, of the academic, economic, political and cultural world.

The announcement follows the postponement on March 1 of Pope Francis’ “Economy of Francesco” meeting in Assisi, which was postponed for the same reason, moving from March 26-28 to Nov. 21.

That event which will involve 2,000 young entrepreneurs and economists from 115 countries, aims to create a “common covenant” for “global change,” giving “a soul to the economy of tomorrow.” People of different creeds and nationalities are to take part, “inspired by an ideal of fraternity attentive above all to the poor and excluded.”

Both events, which reflect Pope Francis’ vision for society and the world, are geared to promoting a “new humanism” of fraternity and inclusion regardless of religion. But critics are concerned they will relativize the truth and uniqueness of Jesus Christ by promoting religious indifferentism and syncretism.

In its statement today, the Congregation for Catholic Education quoted Pope Francis’ message last year that launched of the Global Compact on Education, saying he wished the initiative to nurture “the dream of a humanism rooted in solidarity and responsive both to humanity’s aspirations and to God’s plan.”