In what state are Catholic schools? Have they completed their contribution to society?
The Church must never abandon the world of school. It is fundamental. The problem we have at this time is a cultural problem, and culture, the place of critical transmission, but also of insertion and inclusion, is the school. The Church cannot leave schools. It would be an error. This does not mean that in the Church we must concentrate solely and exclusively on the school. I myself am a Salesian and in my Province we have 36 schools. But we have many more parishes, youth centers, social platforms for young immigrants, young homeless people ...
The other field in which Salesians are specialists concerns young people. How to bring young people closer to faith?
The first thing is to stay and be with them. The Church must be with young people. Be interested in their concerns, dreams, needs ... And to do all this you have to be in their midst. This is why we have platforms such as schools and youth centers in parishes.
Do the oratories still function?
Yes. There are many, at least in our environment, where children do not come only during school time, but also afterwards, and they enjoy a whole experience of free time wherein there are itineraries for maturation in the faith. And when you're in the middle of these environments, there are many things that change.
What does the Church need today?
I think that today, in the Church, we must give an appealing and attractive image to young people. One of our Rector Majors, Fr Egidio Viganò, insisted a lot on this. This is what the Pope says, to abandon (putting on) a sour face. I think that the approach of this next Synod, to which young people are being asked to participate, is very important. Sometimes it is said: "young people are the Church of the future ..." No! The young are the Church of the present. They must have a voice and participate in ordinary life. And when they participate and feel they are listened to and taken into consideration, young people answer: "Sure, yes!"