VATICAN CITY, FEB. 27, 2004 (Zenit.org).- John Paul II encouraged the activity of Catholic universities saying that the contribution of the faithful in public life depends on their own formation.
The Pope addressed the Church’s place in society when he received in audience the visiting French bishops of the ecclesiastical province of Besançon and the Archdiocese of Strasbourg, who were concluding their five-yearly visit to Rome.
“I cannot sufficiently encourage pastors to pay attention to the integral formation of youths, especially those who in the future will be authorities and leaders of the nation,” the Holy Father said.
“The Church wishes to offer them the light of the Gospel and her magisterium,” so that in their future responsibilities these youths “will be attentive to persons and base their decisions on moral criteria,” he said.
“In this area, Catholic universities have a specific mission of reflection together with the ensemble of social agents, to help them analyze particular situations and to see how they can always put man at the center of their decisions,” the Pope said.
“This undertaking is directed not only to Catholic faithful but also to all people of good will who wish to really reflect on the future of humanity,” he added.
In analyzing the place of the Church in society, the Holy Father emphasized the importance of the Social Weeks, which will observe their centenary in France this year. The Social Weeks are occasions for dialogue with non-Christians on social justice.
The Pope requested that these initiatives be fostered in other countries and that, in Europe in particular, they be “a movement of reflection on the ever more complex questions of the present-day world, uniting persons in the elaboration of the principles of the society of tomorrow.”
“In proclaiming Christ,” he explained, Christians “transmit hope to society. … Through a new, more penetrating understanding of the laws of social life, they invite to a profound transformation of society.”
“In addition to having the right and duty to proclaim the Gospel to all nations, the Church is authorized at the same time to give her judgment on human affairs, in the measure called for by the fundamental rights of the human person or the salvation of souls,” he said, quoting from No. 747 of the Code of Canon Law.
“In political life, in the economy and the workplace, and in the family, it corresponds to the faithful to make Christ present and to have evangelical values shine, which manifest, with a particular light the dignity of man and his central place in the universe, recalling in this way the primacy of the human being above all private interests and institutional mechanisms.”