Pope Hails Institute's Work in Promoting East-West Intellectual Ties

Celebrates 20th Anniversary of Vienna-based Group

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 28, 2002 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II helped celebrate the 20th anniversary of Vienna’s Institute for Human Sciences, an organization founded to promote dialogue between intellectuals of the West and of Eastern Europe.

In a meeting with founders and members of the institute, the Pope noted that the organization had organized «eight memorable colloquia at Castel Gandolfo,» the papal summer residence. John Paul II participated in the colloquia together with leading intellectuals.

The institute (IWM) was founded in Austria by three young intellectuals: Cornelia Klinger and Klaus Nellen, both of Cologne, and Krzysztof Michalski of Warsaw. They wanted to establish a research institution in Western Europe where people and ideas from Eastern Europe (at that time under Communist rule) were welcome.

Their project became a reality thanks to the help of a priest and philosophy professor, Father Jozef Tischner, who was elected the institute’s first president. The Pope remembered him with affection during Saturday’s meeting of members and friends of the institute.

A branch institute at Boston University became operational last November with the help of the U.S. school.

Addressing the meeting, held in the Clementine Hall of the Apostolic Palace, John Paul II said, to Michalski in particular, that today «20 years after its establishment, the Institute for Human Sciences has amply lived up to the vision of its founders.»

«The events of 1989 and the quickened pace of Europe’s unification have shown the need for precisely the kind of disciplined analysis, broad-ranging discussions and concrete proposals to which the institute is dedicated,» the Pope said.

«In these years, the institute has made a significant contribution to a more responsible shaping of the political, economic, social and cultural future of the Continent,» the Holy Father added. «I express my hope that in the years ahead it will continue to emphasize the ‘human’ dimension of the immense possibilities and challenges opening up before mankind at the dawn of this new millennium.»

«In the end, any solution to the grave crises which face contemporary society, and any effort to create a future more worthy of man, must be based on an appreciation of the innate dignity and the spiritual grandeur of each human being,» he continued.

«It must likewise show respect for the rich variety of cultures and the religious values which have given historical expression to the quest for authentic freedom and the building of a world of solidarity, justice and peace,» the Pope concluded.

The colloquia organized by IWM have served to promote an exchange of ideas among leading representatives of various disciplines, worldviews and political convictions: «steps into open and common spaces,» as German philosopher Hans-Georg Gadamer (1900-2002) wrote in his preface to the first volume of the colloquia’s proceedings.

The eighth Castel Gandolfo colloquium was held in August 1998. The discussion was centered on «The End of the Millennium: Time and Modernities.»

More information is at www.iwm.at.

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