VATICAN CITY, DEC. 5, 2002 ( John Paul II appealed to Catholic universities worldwide to offer their scientific and humanistic contribution to humanize the current process of globalization.

The Pope made this proposal today when he met with participants in the congress on "Globalization and Catholic Higher Education: Hopes and Challenges." The five-day congress, which ends Friday, was organized by the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education and the International Federation of Catholic Universities.

Addressing administrators, professors and students, the Holy Father urged them to "remain vigilant, to see in scientific and technical progress, and also in the phenomenon of globalization, what is promising for man and humanity, but also the dangers they entail for the future."

Speaking in four languages, the Pope pointed out the topics he considers of greatest interest at this time: "those that relate directly to the dignity of the person and his fundamental rights, with which the important questions of bioethics are closely related."

In particular, John Paul II called attention to the "status of the human embryo and stem cells, today the object of experiments and disturbing manipulations, not always morally or scientifically justified."

"Globalization is most often the result of economic factors, which today more than ever shape political, legal and bioethical decisions, frequently to the detriment of human and social concerns," the Holy Father said.

"The university world should strive to analyze the factors underlying these decisions and should in turn contribute to making them truly moral acts, acts worthy of the human person," he added.

"This means strongly emphasizing the centrality of the inalienable dignity of the human person in scientific research and in social policies," the Pope continued.

To achieve this objective, he said that professors and students alike "are called to bear clear witness to their faith before the scientific community, showing their commitment to the truth and their respect for the human person."

"For Christians, research must in effect be undertaken in the light of faith rooted in prayer, in listening to the word of God, in Tradition and in the teaching of the magisterium," he stressed.