Pope Francis explains "...we must be careful not to fall into these ideological attitudes that destroy, do so much harm." to Universities

Monday, May 16, 2022
Distinguished Ladies and Gentlemen,
I welcome you, Rectors of the thirteen public universities, state and non-state, of Rome and Lazio, gathered in the Regional Coordination of the Universities of Lazio with the representatives of the Region. I greet the president, Professor Stefano Ubertini, Rector of the University of Tuscia, and I thank him for his kind words of introduction.
Universities, in this particular historical moment, are entrusted with a task of great responsibility. The years of the pandemic, the spread in Europe of the "third world war" which has begun to pieces and now it seems that it will not be in pieces, the global environmental question, the growth of inequalities, challenge us in an unprecedented and accelerated way. A challenge that has a strong cultural, intellectual and moral implication. This scenario is facing the younger generations, risking to generate a climate of discouragement, bewilderment, loss of confidence, even worse: addiction. We must tell ourselves the truth: we are in crisis. And the crisis is not a bad thing, it is not a bad thing: the crisis is good, because the crisis makes us grow, it makes us make options to grow. The danger is when the crisis turns into conflict: the conflict is closed and destroys. But we must learn to live in crisis, as now, and to bring forward the young people who are in our universities, teaching them to live in crisis and to overcome crises. This is one of the most beautiful things that can be done: how to live the crisis and overcome the crisis, so that it does not turn into conflict.
But young people are not there, and they remind us of our responsibilities. So now is the time for a major educational investment. For this reason, the Global Compact on Education is being developed, that is a joint work project on a global scale, which involves many interlocutors, from major religions to international institutions, to individual educational institutions. Signing in this spirit the document on human brotherhood in Abu Dhabi on February 4, 2019, we agreed that "we care about an integral formation that is summed up in knowing oneself, one's brother, creation and the Transcendent".
This is, in practice, the horizon of peace: a human and universal university formation, on the concrete. Sometimes, some universities - I am thinking of some I have known - carry on the university legacy of the Enlightenment, which is to fill your head with ideas, to have "macrocephalous", and this does not help. One must educate with the language of the head, heart and hands, and thus one grows in society. This, in practice, is the horizon of the peace that today we rightly claim and for which we pray intensely, and therefore of true and integral development, which cannot be built except with a critical sense, freedom, healthy confrontation and dialogue. . And these four things cannot be done without freedom. Here we are at the basis of the very idea of ​​the University and of the role that this institution cannot fail to have, beyond barriers and borders.
In fact, there is a lot to do, to ensure technological and scientific development, of course, but also to ensure its human sustainability. The great changes require us to rethink our economic, cultural and social models, in order to recover the central value of the human person. [1] And "the very term" university "designates a community, but also an idea of ​​convergence of knowledge, in a search that provides truth and meaning to the dialogue between all men and women in the world". [2]
The service that the university can give is therefore really important; that you and the universities you represent, each with its own characteristics, can give to rethink and adapt our development models, bringing together the best intellectual and moral energies. Students are not satisfied with mediocrity - they exploit it, but they are not satisfied -; they are not satisfied with a mere repetition of data, not even with a vocational training without a horizon. This is demonstrated, for example, by the great mobilization of many young PhD students and researchers on economics, coordinated by professors of your Universities, with the aim of building new and effective responses, overcoming old encrustations linked to a sterile culture of power competition. .
Never miss the effort to listen to the students, male and female colleagues - this atmosphere of dialogue, don't miss this -; listen to the social and institutional reality, the nearby one and the global one, because the university has no borders: knowledge, research, dialogue, comparison can only overcome every barrier and be "all-round". [3] Please do not lack the courage of imagination and investment, for a human development of research, to train young people capable of bringing something new to the world of work and to society; also train them to respect: respect for themselves, respect for others, respect for creation and respect for the Creator.
And in promoting the excellence of studies and research, I urge you to ensure that all those who deserve it and do not have the means can fully exercise their right to study and training. And so too to carry out the laudable commitment to welcome students, researchers and teachers who are victims of persecution, wars, discrimination in various countries of the world. May you stimulate many forms of "learning-service" to the community, so that, by measuring themselves against poverty and existential and social peripheries, they give further meaning and value to their university education, never separated from life, never separated from people, never separated from society.
Thus we return to the intentionality of the university institution, in the convergent commitment of teaching, research, dialogue and confrontation with society. I hope that your communities will be living communities, transparent, active, welcoming, responsible communities, in a fruitful climate of cooperation, exchange and dialogue, valuing each and every one. May you read and face this change of epoch with reflection and discernment, without ideological prejudices, without fears or escapes, or, worse, conformism. And on this I recommend that you pay attention to ideologies. Ideologies destroy because they show us only one way and close the universal panorama. Ideologies destroy a person's humanity, take away his heart, take away his poetic capacity, creativity. Today there are many: we must be careful not to fall into these ideological attitudes that destroy, do so much harm. Even in the Church we have many ideologies, at times, which do not do well.
There are only a few years left until the Jubilee of 2025. We recall that just three years after the first Jubilee celebration of 1300 the Studium Urbis was established, as if to show in practice and reaffirm the native relationship between the Church and the university institution, one of the oldest and most paradigmatic expressions of European civilization, which then developed into the world. This ancient and consolidated relationship, in the distinction and cooperation, we are called to develop and achieve in the responsible and sustainable construction of development paths.
The motto of the next Jubilee of 2025, Pilgrims of Hope, can then express this convergent commitment, the tension towards shared goals of life, good and fraternity. It is my best wishes and my thanks to the Regional Coordination Committee of the Universities of Lazio. I accompany you with my blessing and prayer. And you too, don't forget to pray for me. And if any of you don't pray because he can't, he doesn't know or doesn't feel like it, at least send me good waves: I need it! Thanks.
[1] Speech at the Roma Tre University, February 17, 2017.
[2] Speech to teachers and students of the Free University of Maria Santissima Assunta, November 14, 2019.
[3] Cf. Ap. Const. Veritatis gaudium, Proemio.