Pope's Letter on the National Day for the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart

«It is necessary that [young people] return to the center of attention and be leaders of social life.»

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The following is a translation of the Letter that the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin sent in the name of the Holy Father, to Cardinal Angelo Scola, President of the G. Toniolo Institute of Higher Studies, on the occasion today of the 91stNational Day for the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart.

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From the Vatican, March 30, 2015

To His Most Reverend Eminence

The Lord Cardinal Angelo SCOLA

President of the Giuseppe Toniolo Institute

of Higher Studies

Largo A. Gemelli, 1

20123 MILAN

Lord Cardinal,

The Church continues to turn her full look of solicitude to young people, thus prolonging in our time that singular affection that Jesus manifested in relating to them (Cf. Mark 10:17-22). Among the expressions that in the main describe the attention of the ecclesial community to young people are initiatives geared to education and, in particular, to guarantee a high cultural and professional formation in the light of evangelical teachings. This endeavor has been carried out in the course of the centuries thanks to the eminent figures of formators and Catholic academic institutions that with generosity and competence have been able to offer an integral formation. An objective that can only be attained thanks to an instruction of high scientific profile that is able to draw, in the constant search of truth, on the resources of reason with the light of the faith.

This is the mission of which the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart has taken charge, developing the fecund seed cast by Father Agostino Gemelli, which has become in the course of decades a point of reference for the university itinerary of the young generations.

Its growth was supported by the affectionate and concrete closeness of Italian Catholics, who have always seen in this academic institution a precious service for the formation of young people and an instrument to guarantee the qualified contribution of Catholics to social life and the good of the country.

This bond is renewed and consolidated with the celebration every year of the Day for the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, also thanks to reflection on subjects that are proposed every now and then.

Therefore, the topic “Young People, Peripheries at the Center,” proposed for the 91stDay, which will be celebrated next Sunday, April 19, merits an attentive consideration and adequate further reflection. The situation of young people, also because of the prolongation of the economic crisis, has become particularly difficult. The lack of work, in particular, determines a great existential uncertainty and also prejudices the realization of legitimate aspirations be it in the professional ambit or in reference to the formation of a family. Thus young people risk becoming ever more marginalized in the social system, with grave consequences for their life and for the future of the whole community. Therefore, it is necessary that they return to the center of attention and be leaders of social life.

Not lacking in them is the will to react to oppose the growing marginalization and not allow themselves to fall prey to discouragement. From the interesting research carried out by the Toniolo Institute and by the Catholic University in the context of the Youth Report, the great determination of the new generations emerges to commit themselves to surmount the present difficulties. In this context, the words that Pope Francis addressed in fact to university students resound again more true and stimulating: “You know, dear university young people, that one cannot live without looking at the challenges, without responding to the challenges. One who does not look at the challenges, who does not respond to the challenges, does not live … Please, do not look at life from the balcony! Get involved there, where the challenges are, which call for help to take forward life, development, the struggle for values, and so many struggles that we meet every day. The challenges are diverse that you university young people are called to address with interior strength and evangelic audacity – strength and audacity” (Celebration of the First Vespers of Advent with University Students of Rome, November 30, 2013).

It is the Church’s task to support this positive stimulation, which is present in young people, offering ideal instruments to address the criticality. In this perspective the contribution is truly important that can come from the Catholic University. From it young people can receive that high level moral and cultural formation, attentive to the international scenes and to the new determinant processes of globalization, which can help them to become leaders of a profound change. In addition to rediscovering the true reasons for hope for the future, they will thus be able to contribute to the removal of the causes that have determined the establishment of the many material and existential peripheries that characterize our time.

While the Holy Father asks to pray for him and for his service to the Church, he assures his closeness and his constant prayerful remembrance so that the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, supported by the Toniolo Institute of Higher Studies, is able to continue to be at the side of young people, helping above all the meritorious that have less possibilities, in the certainty that the formative investment is the best antidote against that marginalization to which some iniquitous social dynamics seem to wish to condemn them.

Also with reference to this specific end, I add to the present the contribution that the holy Father decided to allocate to that meritorious Institute of Higher Studies and I formulate my personal good wishes for the activity and development of the Athenaeum of Italian Catholics.

While renewing his entrustment of the Athenaeum to the Sacred Heart of Jesus and to the Virgin Mother, Sedes Sapientiae, His Holiness sends a special blessing to Your Eminence, to the Rector, to the members of the Toniolo Institute, to the General Ecclesiastical Assistant, to the distinguished Professors, to the technical-administrative staff and to all the students.

I take advantage of the circumstance to confirm my personal regards

to Your Most Reverend Eminence.

Ever devotedly,

Pietro Cardinal Parolin

Secretary of State

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]
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