Pope Emphasizes True Mission for Universities

Says Imparting Knowledge Isn’t Enough

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 12, 2009 (Zenit.org).- University communities cannot be satisfied with merely imparting knowledge; they must also teach students values and profound motivations, says Benedict XVI.

The Pope spoke of the role of universities today, taking up the theme of the «educational crisis,» about which he has often expressed concern.

The Holy Father was addressing staff and students from the Libera Universita Maria Santissima Assunta (LUMSA), which is celebrating its 70th year.

LUMSA was founded in 1939 by Servant of God Mother Luigia Tincani, founder of the School Missionaries of the Union of St. Catherine of Siena, and Cardinal Giuseppe Pizzardo, then prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education. Its aim was to prepare women religious who would go on to be teachers.

Over the past 70 years, LUMSA «has prepared a multitude of professors and developed notably,» the Pontiff observed, pointing out that today this institution, with close to 9,000 students, «represents an important reference in the educational field.»

Emergency

Benedict XVI said that those who are trained to teach in the midst of the present «worrying educational emergency» have a duty which takes on greater importance.

And, he contended, the economic crisis further shows «the need for more determined and courageous investment in the field of learning and education, as the way to respond to the numerous challenges that arise, and to prepare young generations so that they can build a better world.»

To achieve this, the Pope affirmed, there is an increasing urgency to «appeal to fundamental values that must be transmitted, as indispensable patrimony, to the forthcoming generations and, therefore, to ask oneself what those values are.»

Challenges

Thus, Benedict XVI suggested, «academic institutions are asked, in an urgent way, questions of an ethical character.»

«Catholic universities have been entrusted with an important role, in fidelity to their specific identity and in an effort to give a qualified service in the Church and in society,» he said.

In today’s complex social and cultural reality, the Holy Father continued, «the Catholic university is called to act with the Christian inspiration of the individuals and university community as such; with continuous wise reflection, enlightened by faith, and scientific research; with fidelity to the Christian message exactly as it is presented by the Church; with institutional commitment at the service of the people of God and the human family, in its journey toward the ultimate goal.»

«Today, as in the past, the university needs true teachers that transmit, along with contents and scientific learning, a rigorous method of research and values and profound motivations,» he said.

The Pontiff urged the students to dedicate themselves to acquiring knowledge that «concurs with the integral formation of your personality,» and to «refine [your] capacity to seek the truth and the good during your whole life, to prepare yourselves professionally to be builders of a more just and solidary society.»

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