Thursday, November 14, 2019

Pope Francis says to University "A commitment that can only qualify a Catholic university, where the adjective "Catholic" does not introduce a distinction, but rather a surplus..." Full Text


Paul VI Hall
Thursday, November 14, 2019

Dear brothers and sisters,

I am happy to celebrate with you the 80th birthday of the Free University Maria Santissima Assunta. I cordially greet the Rector, Prof. Francesco Bonini, and thank him for his courteous words. I greet the Cardinals and Bishops, in particular Cardinal Giovanni Lajolo, President of the University's Board of Directors. I extend my greetings to the academic authorities, professors, technical-administrative staff, families and friends of this institution. And I greet you, dear students and students, who constitute the center of academic activity. Thank you for your festive welcome!

You have come today to celebrate a significant goal together, we can say a goal of maturity in the development of the University. Eighty years ago, it was born to respond to a need that was then, and still is, urgent, that is, to train educators and educators in particular, opening the world of higher education to women. At first he aimed at preparing teachers for middle and high schools; and then, by enlarging the number of degree courses, to train professionals in different fields. A "service company", as your foundress, the venerable Luigia Tincani, wanted, which in turn was inspired by Saint Catherine of Siena, an indomitable and passionate woman of the Church.

Today I wish to return this commitment to you, situating it in the context of the epochal change we are experiencing. We are inspired by two Saints whom I have had the joy of proclaiming in recent years: Paul VI and John Henry Newman, two Pastors who lived through the University and who proposed with their own pastoral and cultural commitment, respectively, a "university consciousness" (see University Consciousness: notes for students, Rome), and "an idea of ​​University" (see The Idea of ​​a University, Westminster).

In fact the term "university" itself means a community, but also an idea of ​​convergence of knowledge, in a research that provides truth and meaning to the dialogue between all the men and women of the world. It is a high task to be aware of and worthy of. In this regard, I intend to deliver to you what I told your colleagues from another Roman University: "You must commit yourself, even as a university, to projects of sharing and service to the least, to make the sense of belonging to a "common homeland". [...] Working with projects, even small ones, that foster encounter and solidarity, a sense of trust in life is recovered together "(Speech at the Roma Tre University, 17 February 2017).

In fact, the university involves not only a formative but educational commitment, which starts from the person and reaches the person. A commitment that can only qualify a Catholic university, where the adjective "Catholic" does not introduce a distinction, but rather a surplus of exemplarity: "An education is needed that teaches to think critically and that offers a path of maturation in values "(Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 64), in particular" on the dignity of the human person and the common good "(ibid., 65). Hence the need to renew the assumption of responsibility in front of the commitments that qualify the university institution in this era in which the communicative, technological and global interconnection processes are accelerated.

1) First of all, a responsibility of coherence, that is, of fidelity and community. The university community always works for the future, but it does so with a strong awareness of the roots and a realistic perception of the present. For this, I look with confidence to the new generations that are formed in the University. Protagonists aware of that change that comes from vision and coherence, starting from a community perspective: in this sense the quality and style of the relationships that you live in the university is fundamental.

2) It follows a cultural responsibility and I would say missionary before the world. «What is the university? What is your task? "- asked Pope Benedict XVI, addressing the oldest university in the capital. And he answered thus: "I think we can say that the true, intimate origin of the university lies in the lust for knowledge that is proper to man. He wants to know what everything around him is. He wants truth "(Insegnamenti, IV, 1 [2008], 81). We must not be afraid to use this word, in a spirit of sincere dialogue. Truth, freedom, good: on this guideline I hope that your University will be able to offer a formation in which, across the curricular knowledge, there is space for the integral formation of the person.
3) Here then is the social responsibility of the University. Activate virtuous circuits of integral development with the living forces of society. It takes courage to get involved. Open the offices - in Palermo, in Taranto, and in Rome - to the old and new poverty.

4) Finally, there is an inter-university responsibility. Europe has been the cradle of universities, but it must rediscover its meaning. Your University will continue to work in the university system at all levels and in particular with Catholic universities so that a fruitful climate of cooperation, exchange and mutual help is created in building innovative educational and research projects, oriented towards that intellectual charity that it does not discount the truth and is not content with mediocrity.

All of you, students, professors, and leaders of the university community, encourage you to open hearts and minds. Not to be satisfied - you students first of all - of the current scores, of the seemingly hegemonic thought, of a world in which diversity is conflict. May you feel the healthy ambition to add something original, which is also concrete and useful. You young people, do not be afraid to be demanding with your teachers, who in order to be masters must also be witnesses. And you, teachers, do not fear to be demanding with your students, so that they may express the best of themselves.

Dear University brothers, I am returning to you the motto of the University: In fide et humanitate. That "et" means integral education, in a globalized and fragmented world, full of contradictions, which requires a lot of work together. A serious, creative, artisan work that passes through the mind, the heart, the hands.

Mary, taken up into heaven, continue to be a reference and guide for your journey that is being renewed today. I thank you for this welcome meeting and I cordially bless each one of you and your work. And you, please, don't forget to pray for me.
Full Text + Image Source: - Unofficial Translation

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