Francis' Address to Gregorian University

“Your Institutes are not machines to produce theologians and philosophers; they are communities in which one grows, and growth occurs in the family”

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Here is a translation of Francis’ address today to representatives of the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the Pontifical Oriental Institute.

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Lord Cardinals,

Venerable Brothers in the Episcopate and in the Priesthood,

Very Dear Brothers and Sisters,

I welcome you all, professors, students and non-teaching personnel of the Pontifical Gregorian University, the Pontifical Biblical Institute, and the Pontifical Oriental Institute. I greet Father Nicolas, the Father Delegate and all the other Superiors, as well as the Cardinals and the Bishops present. Thank you!

The Institutions to which you belong — gathered in Consortium by Pope Pius XI in 1928 –, are entrusted to the Society of Jesus and share the same desire to “militate for God under the standard  of the Cross and to serve only the Lord and the Church His Spouse, at the disposition of the Roman Pontiff, Vicar of Christ on earth” (Formula , 1). It is important that collaboration is developed among them and the synergies that guard the historical memory, at the same time taking charge of the present and looking to the future — the General Father said “looking at the distant horizon — looking at the future with creativity and imagination, seeking to have a global vision of the situation and of the present challenges, and a shared way of addressing them, finding new ways without fear.

Thinking of your commitment, the first aspect I would like to stress, be it as docents or students, and as personnel of the Institutions, is that of valuing the place itself in which you are working and studying, namely the city and above all the Church of Rome. There is a past and a present. There are the roots of faith: the memories of the Apostles and the Martyrs; and there is the ecclesial “today,” there is the present path of this Church that presides in charity at the service of unity and of universality. All this should not be taken for granted! It is lived and valued with a commitment that in part is institutional and in part is personal, left to each one’s initiative.

However, at the same time you bring here the variety of your Churches of provenance, of your cultures. This is one of the Roman institutions. It offers a valuable occasion of growth in the faith and of the opening of the mind and of the heart to the horizon of catholicity. Within this horizon the dialectic between “center” and “peripheries” assumes its own form, namely the evangelical form according to the logic of a God that reaches the center from the periphery and returns to the periphery.

The other aspect that I wish to share is that of the relation between study and the spiritual life. Your intellectual commitment in teaching and in research, in study and in the broadest formation, will be that much more fruitful and effective the more it is animated by love of Christ and of the Church, and the more solid and harmonious will be the relation between study and prayer. This is not something ancient, it is the center!

This is one of the challenges of our time: to transmit knowledge and to offer a key to vital understanding, not a cumulus of notions unconnected among themselves. There is need of a true evangelical hermeneutic to understand life, the world and men better, not of a synthesis but of a spiritual atmosphere of research and certainty based on the truths of reason and of faith. Philosophy and Theology enable one to acquire the convictions that structure and strengthen the intelligence and illumine the will … but all this is fruitful only if it is done with an open mind and kneeling. The theologian who is content with his complete and closed thought is a mediocre <. The good theologian and philosopher has an open thought, that is, incomplete, always open to the maius of God and of the truth, always developing, according to that law that Saint Vincent of Lerins described as “annis consolidetur, dilatetur tempore, sublimetur aetate” (Commonitorium primum, 23: PL 50, 668): it is consolidated with the years, it dilates in time, it is deepened with age. This is the theologian that has an open mind. And the theologian that does not pray and does not adore God ends up in sickening narcissism. And this is an ecclesiastical sickness. The narcissism of theologians, of thinkers does so much harm, it is sickening.

The end of studies in all Pontifical Universities is ecclesial. Research and study are integrated with one’s personal and community life with the missionary commitment, with fraternal charity and the sharing with the poor, with the care of the interior life in the relationship with the Lord. Your Institutes are not machines to produce theologians and philosophers; they are communities in which one grows, and growth occurs in the family. In the university family there is the charism of government, entrusted to the Superiors, and there is the diakonia of the non-teaching personnel which is indispensable to create a daily family environment, and also to create an attitude of humanity and concrete wisdom, which will make of today’s students persons capable of building humanity, of transmitting the truth in a human dimension, of knowing that if the goodness and beauty are lacking of belonging to a family of work, one ends up by being an intellectual without talent, an ethicist without goodness, a thinker lacking the splendor of the beauty and only “rigged” of formalisms. The respectful and daily contact with the laboriousness and the witness of the men and the women who work in your Institutions will give you that quota of realism so necessary so that your science is human science and not that of a laboratory.

Dear brothers, I entrust each one of you, your study and your work to the intercession of Mary, Seat of Wisdom, of Saint Ignatius of Loyola and of your other holy Patrons. I bless you from my heart and I pray for you. You also, please, pray for me! Thank you!

Now, before giving you the blessing, I invite you to pray to Our Lady, the Mother, that she may help and protect you. Ave Maria …

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
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