Here is a translation of the Letter that the Cardinal Secretary of State, Pietro Parolin, sent to H.E. Monsignor Mario Delpini, President of the “Giuseppe Toniolo” Institute of Higher Studies, on the occasion of the 95th “National Day for the Catholic University” (Sunday, May 5).
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The Vatican, April 27, 2019
Most Reverend Excellency,
In these last years, the Church has turned her look with renewed attention to young people, and has established a frank and constructive dialogue with them. To have listened to them in the course of the preparation and of the works of the Synod of Bishops, held last October on the theme “Young People, the Faith and Vocational Discernment,” made the young face of the Church be rediscovered.
We touched concretely their difficulties, fears, and contradictions, but we also experienced their enthusiasm, generosity and sincere desire to get involved. The subject of formation was at the center of the Synodal reflection, and the young people themselves asked to be accompanied and supported in their human, cultural and spiritual growth.
A particularly important contribution to the maturation of the new generations, therefore, is that offered by educational institutions. The Church has always been in the front line and in this ambit, the initiatives promoted are truly numerous and of great relevance. In the light of the Synod, however, it seems necessary to have “a renewal and re-launching of schools and Universities,” according to criteria of missionary orientation, such as: the experience of the kerygma, dialogue at all levels, inter-disciplinary and trans-disciplinary studies, the promotion of the culture of encounter, the urgent need to create “networks” an option for the least, for those that the society rejects and throws out:” (Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit, 222). Such objectives can only be attained with the “capacity to integrate the knowledge of the head, of the heart and of the hands” (Ibid.).
The Catholic University of the Sacred Heart was born just under a century ago, to respond to instances of a Catholicism that didn’t have significant places and areas at the level of higher studies and of higher formation. The happy initiative of Father Agostino Gemelli and of his closest collaborators created the conditions for the formation of an Athenaeum, which in the course of the years has been consolidated. Growing progressively has been the formative offer, the number of students and docents, and the capacity to propose itself as an educational and cultural subject of the first order in the national and international realm.
This expansion, which still goes on today, thanks to the intelligent and generous commitment of all the components of the University community, to the trust and the esteem of the students and of their families, to the closeness and support of the ecclesial community, requires that the Athenaeum’s identity be increasingly reinforced and its capacity to propose itself as a “University “in a missionary ‘going forth.’” In fact, its Catholic matrix, far from being a motive of limitations, constitutes a formidable opening to the universal quest for the truth and the good, offers a consolidated paradigm of hospitality and care of students, encourages a constant commitment, also from the perspective of the mission itself, to build the common good and to address the great challenges of our time, especially in the order of the environment, human mobility, the different forms of discrimination, injustice and poverty. The theme “Passion, Talent, Commitment: Seeking My Place in the World,” at the center of the 95th National Day for the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart,” which is held on Sunday, May 5, invites us to reflect on these educational challenges. Young people are in search and despite the difficulties, the not always favorable contexts and the generational breaks, are bearers of inexhaustible vital energy that drives them to try new ways, without giving up. To support this delicate work of discernment, the Catholic University can offer be it a highly qualified environment for the students that frequent it, be it precious instruments of cultural and pastoral endeavour at the service of the Church and of society, as it is doing with the Youth Report and the research on religiosity and the education of the new generations. At the bottom of everything must always be the awareness that, on this path, the Lord is next to young people and, as Church committed also in the academic world, we must never tire of saying to them: “He is in you. He is with you and He never leaves you. No matter how much you might distance yourself, the Risen One is next to you, who calls you and waits for you to begin again. When you feel old because of sadness, resentments, fears, doubts or failures, He will be there to give back to you strength and hope” (Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christus Vivit, 2).
In the name of the Holy Father, who follows with care and solicitude the educational commitment of the ecclesial community and of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, I express my heartfelt appreciation for the precious work carried out, with the hope that the rich material that emerged in the course of the Synod, dedicated to young people, may be able to offer new and still stronger motives for commitment to the mission of the Athenaeum of Italian Catholics. In order to be able to continue supporting worthy students but with fewer possibilities, on this occasion also the contribution of the Holy See won’t be lacking, which it has decided to allocate to this meritorious Institute of Higher Studies.
While assuring his closeness and his paternal support, Pope Francis asks that he be remembered in prayer. To Your Excellency, to the Rector, to the General Ecclesiastical Assistant, to the members of the Toniolo Institute, to the distinguished Professors, to the technical and administrative staff and to all the students he imparts from his heart a special Blessing.
I take advantage of the circumstance to offer my distinct homage to You Most Reverend Excellency.
Devotedly in the Lord.
Pietro Cardinal Parolin
Secretary of State[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]