VATICAN CITY, APR. 6, 2001 (Zenit.org).- For the cultural world, John Paul II proposed to a return to the type of fidelity to the Church´s magisterium shown by Jesuit found Ignatius of Loyola.
Such an objective, the Pope told an audience of Gregorian University professors and students, is timely today, given “the changing settings of the culture of our time.”
About 2,000 professors and students of the pontifical university gathered today in the Vatican´s Paul VI Hall to mark the 450th anniversary of the Gregorian with the Holy Father.
The “Roman College,” as it was first called, was founded in 1551, in keeping with the pedagogical model of the University of Paris, where the founder of the Society of Jesus had studied. The school that became known as the Gregorian has formed Church leaders for centuries, including 16 popes, 20 saints and 39 blessed.
The Holy Father said the anniversary celebration inspires two feelings: gratitude for the good achieved, and the need to renew the institution.
Ignatius wanted this university to be a center of studies, open to any one, “operating in Rome, next to the Vicar of Christ, joined to him by close bonds of fidelity, at the service of the Churches all over the world,” the Holy Father said.
“He entrusted to the then Roman College the task of promoting reasoned and systematic reflection on the faith, to foster the correct preaching of the Gospel and the cause of Catholic unity, in a social context characterized by serious divisions and worrying germs of disintegration,” the Pope added.
The university has 3,378 students from 130 countries; 22% of the students are lay, 21% are women, generally nuns. More than half the students, 52%, are studying for a licentiate or doctorate. Last year, the Gregorian had 400 professors, including guests and assistants.
“Given the challenges of present-day society, this is the time for a courageous relaunching of your institution,” the Holy Father said. “It is the time to confirm a total fidelity to Ignatius´ intuition and make a courageous renewal so that the memory of the past will not be exhausted in the contemplation of what has been accomplished, but be turned into a present commitment and prophecy for the future.”
John Paul II made two proposals to the professors and students to achieve this objective.
“First of all, complete fidelity to the magisterium,” he said. “This is a condition that, as can be seen in your centuries-old experience, does not repress but, rather, fosters the ecclesial service of theological research and education even more.”
“The other objective — to which you have a frontline commitment, with the ´charism of service to the universal Church,´ typical of the Society of Jesus — is pastoral attention to the topics of Christian unity, interreligious dialogue, and the study of contemporary atheism.”
On April 4 and 5, the Gregorian celebrated its 450 years with an academic event which brought together cardinals and bishops, as well as Argentine President Fernando de la Rúa.