The Holy Father received representatives of three institutions in audience this morning at the Vatican: the Gregorian Pontifical University, the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the Pontifical Oriental Insitute. These institutions were brought together in a consortium by Pope Pius XI in 1923.
Pope Francis welcomed their students, professors, and staff and underscored collaboration among the three institutes, especially in “safeguarding historical memory, and at the same time, taking responsibility for the preset and looking to the future with creativity and imagination.”
The Holy Father pointed out two aspects that should characterize the tasks of consortium members, including teachers and students. He said that first is acknowledging the value of the place in which they work and study, meaning the city of Rome, and, above all, the Church of Rome. He discussed the past and present.
Discussing the past, he said, “There are the roots of faith: the memories of the apostles and the martyrs.”
Next discussing the present, he said, ”there is the ecclesial ‘today’, the current path of this Church which presides over charity, the service of unity and universality. All this must not be taken for granted!”
Still discussing the first aspect, Francis went on to describe to those present that in bringing together different cultures and a variety of churches of origin, “This offers a valuable opportunity for growth in faith and in opening the mind and the heart to the horizon of Catholicity. Within this horizon, the dialectic between ‘centre’ and ‘periphery’ takes on a form of its own, an evangelical form according to the logic of a God who reaches the centre from the periphery, to then return to the periphery.”
The second element the Holy Father noted was the relationship between study and spiritual life. He acknowledged that this relationship constitutes “one of the challenges of our times: transmitting knowledge and offering a key to a vital understanding, not an accumulation of unconnected notions.”
He explained that interpreting and analyzing text is needed to better understand life, the world, and all humanity. He said that a “spiritual atmosphere of research and certainty based on the truths of reason and faith” is needed, rather than a “synthesis.”
He continued, “Philosophy and theology enable us to acquire the convictions that structure and strengthen intelligence and enlighten will … but all this is fruitful only if it is done with an open mind and on one’s knees.” He said that good philosophers and theologians are “open, or incomplete in thought, always open to the ‘maius’ of God and of truth.” They are “always in development.”
Toward the conclusion of his address, the Holy Father emphasized that, “The aim of study in any pontifical university is ecclesial. Research and study are to be integrated with personal and community life, with missionary commitment, with fraternal charity and sharing with the poor, with attention to inner life in relation to the Lord.”
“Your Institutes are not machines for producing theologians and philosophers; they are communities in which one grows, and growth occurs in the family.” He added that the universities are necessary to create attitudes that can make them into people who can “build humanity” and who can “transmit truth into a human dimension.”
These communities, he expressed, make members of their families aware that if beauty or goodness are lacking from within, the result is akin to “an intellectual without talent, an ethicist without goodness, a thinker lacking the splendour of beauty and simply ‘adorned’ with formalism.” The Holy Father closed saying, “Respectful and daily contact with the laboriousness and the witness of the men and women in your institutions will give you the quota of realism necessary for your science to be human and not merely that of the laboratory.” (D.C.L.)
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