Roger Burggraeve – The soul of integral education. Orientations for a contemporary interpretation of ‘religione’ in the salesian pedagogical project

One of the essential pillars in the Salesian education project is religion (religione) beside — or rather along with — ‘amorevolezza’ and ‘ragione’. With Don Bosco the Christian faith lies indeed at the foundation for his choice for young people, paying special attention to the vulnerable ones amongst them. His Christian faith as the anchoring of his educational interests was for him self-explanatory.

That is not to be equated with thoughtlessness. After all, he had to struggle with the secularists in the Italy of the second half of the 19th century, who attempted to press on their points of view in social and political life. In our secular, post-confessional society it is no longer self-evident to raise religion as the essence of education. However, the present-day post-secular religious and ideological pluralism, namely the confrontation with new forms of spirituality and the rise of Islam in the West, among others, again puts on the map the question of religion and of identity, which ensues from it. In the same line the present renewed post-confessional attention to meaning and spirituality invites us not to shy away from Christian meaning as the soul and inspiration for the Salesian education project. On the contrary, we need to provide it again with all chances for success. Throughout our search it will be clear how the Christian faith is both the anthropological and theological foundation, as well as signpost, for an education in the spirit of Don Bosco.



  • Introduction
  • 1. Integral concept of the human with space for spiritual meaning and religion
  • 2. Bi-dimensionality of human religion: finitude and infinitude
  • 3. Religious meaning out of human finitude
    • 3.1. Religion as salvation
    • 3.2. Don Bosco’s Christian supernaturalism: Appreciative and critical questioning
  • 4. Religious meaning out of human infinitude
    • 4.1. Amorevolezza anchored in caritas
    • 4.2. Anchoring pedagogical love in God’s love
    • 4.3. God’s love become flesh: an open revelation
    • 4.4. No Christian religion without sacramental, ‘effective signs’
    • 4.5. The blessing of forgiveness
  • 5. Education as emancipatory salvation: the wealth of poverty
    • 5.1. No salvation without ethics and vice-versa
    • 5.2. Ultimate salvation as ethical awakening
  • A ‘pro-vocative’ conclusion

Reference time period: 1974 – 2016

R. Burggraeve, The soul of integral education. Orientations for a contemporary interpretation of ‘religione’ in the salesian pedagogical project, 2016.

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