Schools must "provide a safe environment" for children, Pope Benedict XVI said today.
In what will be taken as an allusion to the abuse scandal, he said teaching should be carried out in an atmosphere of "respectful and affectionate trust".
Speaking at St Mary's University College, Twickenham, south west London, the Pope said: "I wish to add a particular word of appreciation for those whose task it is to ensure that our schools provide a safe environment for children and young people."
He said the life of faith can "only be effectively nurtured when the prevailing atmosphere is one of respectful and affectionate trust".
"I pray that this may continue to be a hallmark of the Catholic schools in this country."
The Pope gave thanks to the "outstanding contribution" of those involved in the "noble task of education".
And he said religion should be the "driving force" of school life.
He said: "Indeed, the presence of religious and Catholic schools is a powerful reminder of the much-discussed Catholic ethos that needs to inform every aspect of school life.
"This extends far beyond the self-evident requirement that the content of the teaching should always be in conformity with church doctrine.
"It means that the life of these needs to be the driving force behind every activity in the school so that the Church's mission be served effectively."
He said education was about "imparting wisdom" and enabling people to "live life to the full".
He said: "As you know, the task of a teacher is not simply to impart information or to provide training and skills intended to provide some economic benefit to society. Education must never be considered purely utilitarian."