Pope to Seminarians: Study, Learn, Think

Says Academics Are Essential to Priestly Formation

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FREIBURG, Germany, SEPT. 26, 2011 (Zenit.org).- In speaking to the seminarians of Germany over the weekend, Benedict XVI pointed out the importance of one of his favorite activities: studying.

Today the Vatican published a translation of the Pope’s words, which had been delivered without a prepared text. He addressed the seminarians Saturday at the Charles Borromeo Seminary Chapel in Freiburg.

The Holy Father returned to Rome on Sunday, ending a four-day state visit to his native Germany.

«In preparing for the priesthood, study is very much a part of the journey,» the Pontiff affirmed. «This is not an academic accident that has arisen in the western Church, it is something essential.»

Echoing the words of St. Peter, the Pope urged the seminarians to «be prepared to […] account for the hope that is in you.»

«Our world today is a rationalist and thoroughly scientific world, albeit often somewhat pseudo-scientific,» he explained. «But this scientific spirit, this spirit of understanding, explaining, know-how, rejection of the irrational, is dominant in our time.»

While acknowledging that scientific knowledge is good, Benedict XVI underlined the centrality of faith: «Faith is not a parallel world of feelings that we can still afford to hold on to, rather it is the key that encompasses everything, gives it meaning, interprets it and also provides its inner ethical orientation: making clear that it is to be understood and lived as tending toward God and proceeding from God.»

«Therefore,» he added, «it is important to be informed and to understand, to have an open mind, to learn.»

A reason for faith

The Pope pointed to his own studies, noting that many of the currents of thought he studied as a student have been «totally forgotten.»

He encouraged the seminarians to likewise dedicate themselves to contemporary currents, «for there will be some enduring insights among them.»

«And most of all,» he added, «this is how we learn to judge, to think through an idea — and to do so critically — and to ensure that in this thinking the light of God will serve to enlighten us and will not be extinguished.»

«Studying is essential,» the Pope continued. «Only thus can we stand firm in these times and proclaim within them the reason for our faith.

«And it is essential that we study critically — because we know that tomorrow someone else will have something else to say — while being alert, open and humble as we study, so that our studying is always with the Lord, before the Lord, and for him.»

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On ZENIT’s Web page:

Full text: www.zenit.org/article-33532?l=english

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