VATICAN CITY, NOV. 28, 2002 ( The Holy See reconfirmed the Church's opposition to "globalization without controls" and the need for a "globalization of solidarity," especially in the field of education.

Archbishop Giuseppe Pittau, secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education, made those points when announcing the forthcoming conference on "Globalization and Catholic Higher Education: Hopes and Challenges." The conference will be held here from Dec. 2-6.

"The topic of globalization is certainly not foreign to the Catholic realm, and especially to that of universities," the archbishop explained.

"Catholic and global have in their very name strong relations," he said, but "a process of globalization without controls would cause many victims."

"The difference between rich and poor is already a chasm, and globalization contributes to increase the distance between these two groups," he warned.

For the Church, globalization is not "a fatality that must be suffered" or "uncritically accepted," the archbishop said. "But neither is it a kind of salvation: It is a process that must be purified and controlled."

In this context, Catholic universities have the mission "to offer students the criteria to make a judgment," Archbishop Pittau said.

The university should "form responsible, competent and honest citizens who promote a globalization that respects man in his integrity," he added. This will be the key objective of the congress.

According to data of the Congregation for Catholic Education, there are about 1,000 Catholic universities worldwide, with some 4 million students.