The Pontifical Urbaniana University dedicated its Aula Magna to Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI, as “a gesture of gratitude for what he has done for the Church as a conciliar expert, with his teaching as professor, as Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith and, finally, the Magisterium.”
The ceremony took place on Tuesday, October 21, during the opening of the academic year, which was attended by Archbishop Georg Ganswein, Prefect of the Papal Household. Archbishop Ganswein, who also serves as secretary of the Pope Emeritus, read a message from Benedict XVI for the occasion, which was published by L’Osservatore Romano.
The message highlighted the “universality” that reigns in the life of the Pontifical Urbaniana University, and it reminded the academic community that the Church “has never been about only one people or one culture,” but from the beginning she has been “destined to humanity.” In this connection, the Pope Emeritus stressed, the Church makes herself a visible instrument of that peace that Christ promised to His disciples and that today, “in a torn and violent world, it is ever more urgent to edify and build.”
Benedict XVI pondered if in achieving this objective, “Her mission is still timely?” Or, rather, “is it preferable to aim at dialogue between the religions, united in a common service to the cause of peace?” The Pope Emeritus’ answer is given without losing sight of the “question of truth,” which cannot be given up in the name of a generic desire for “peace among the world’s religions.”
In his message, Benedict XVI says that he sees religions not as “variations of one same reality,” “which assumes different forms,” but as a reality “in movement at the historical level, just as peoples and cultures are in movement.” In the Christian perspective, this means that the encounter with Jesus “can lead it completely to His truth.”
He also said that Christ does not destroy cultures and the histories with which He comes into contact, but rather introduces them “into something greater, towards which they are walking,” leading them to “purification and maturation,”. In fact, from this encounter “new life arises” and “new dimensions of the faith are manifested and bring new joys.”
Naturally, religion is more than a “unitary phenomenon.” In it, “undoubtedly, lovely and noble, but also low and destructive, things can be found,” says Benedict XVI.
Moreover, in his message the Pope Emeritus rejects the positivist theory that today religion can be considered “transcended.” Man “becomes smaller, not greater when there is no more room for an ethos that, on the basis of authentic nature, moves beyond pragmatism” and guides our gaze towards God.
Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI concluded by stating his conviction that “in a profoundly changed world, the task remains reasonable to communicate to others the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
“Joy is to be communicated,” he said. Not for the purpose of “having in our community the greatest possible number of members,” or “for power,” but because love lived in joy “is the genuine proof of the truth of Christianity.”