Letter to Commemorate National Day of Catholic University di Sacro Cuore

‘Necessary also, however, is a constant capacity of renewal of the academic Institution itself, called to combine the inalienable original and constructive values with the new needs of a complex university system open to new international scenarios.’

Cardinal Pietro Parolin

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Here is a ZENIT translation of the letter that the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, sent on behalf of the Holy Father to Cardinal Angelo Scola, President of the G. Toniolo Institute of Higher Studies, on the occasion of the day’s National Day for the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart:

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Dear Cardinal,

The world is facing ever greater and exacting challenges that require mature and competent personalities, able to spend themselves generously in the new national and international scenarios. This is one of the main objectives of Catholic Universities, to which the Church entrusts the task of formation of the new generations in the light of the principles of the Catholic faith and of the Catholic Tradition, to build networks of genuine solidarity and to contribute to the common good. In order to address this demanding mission, it is necessary, in the first place, as the Holy Father has recalled: “to prepare hearts so that the Lord is manifested, but in the totality, namely, in the totality of humanity, which also has the dimension of transcendence” (Address to the Participants in the International Congress Promoted by the Congregation for Catholic Education, November 21, 2015).

Without a look addressed to the fundamental values of truth, of goodness, of justice and of peace, which is born of a genuine openness of the spirit, it will not be possible to oppose the strong pressures of materialism and of scientific positivism that seem to be the dominant coordinates on which the culture and society of our time move. Therefore, it is important to renew every effort so that the new generations find persons, institutions and places where they can have an integral formation, made possible by an open and constructive dialogue between faith and reason, between the different ambits of learning and theology. Recognized by all, in this perspective, is the fundamental contribution offered in Italy by the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, which Father Agostino Gemelli and his collaborators desired as solid and qualified reference for the formation of the new generations in the various fields of learning and in the different professional ambits.

No less than in the past, it is urgent to invest in the formation of young people that live today a season of uncertainty and precariousness, be it from the social point of view be it under the religious profile, as amply documented by the studies in the Young People’s Report, carried out by the Toniolo Institute and by the Catholic University. The precious and qualified service offered by the Athenaeum of Italian Catholics since its birth, is supported by the closeness and the contribution of the ecclesial community, which every year holds a National Day for the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart. Chosen as theme for the 92nd Day, which will be held on April 10, is “I Will Be in the Italy of Tomorrow,” wishing with this expression to receive explicitly the invitation that the Holy Father addressed to young people during the Ecclesial Congress in Florence. Inviting them to be witnesses of a new humanism beginning with the figure and sentiments of Jesus, he said to them: “I ask you to be builders of Italy, to get to work for a better Italy.” And in a time that “requires to live problems as challenges and not obstacles,” he indicated to them a way that is also configured as a concrete accomplishment of the Year of Mercy: “You, therefore, go out to the streets and to the crossroads: call all those you meet, excluding no one (cf. Matthew 22:9)” (Address in the Cathedral of Florence to the Participants in the National Ecclesial Congress, November 19, 2015).

To educate young people in this perspective is a fascinating and very demanding task, which requires a common and shared effort on the part of the whole ecclesial community. Necessary also, however, is a constant capacity of renewal of the academic Institution itself, called to combine the inalienable original and constructive values with the new needs of a complex university system open to new international scenarios. A distinctive sign of a Catholic Athenaeum, in addition to the offer of high-level scientific formation, must be increasingly that of an unmistakeable education to solidarity and to the service of the least, through all the dimensions of learning and of human living. The A. Gemelli University polyclinic, which has represented the fulfilment of a dream of its Founder and which should be increasingly recognized as an exemplary place of formation and of Christianly inspired care, offers a particular sign of this indissoluble bond between the academic dimension and service to the neediest and the suffering, such as the sick.

While the Holy Father receives joyfully the Jubilee pilgrimage to Saint Peter’s of the Catholic University, planned for this coming April 9, he assures his closeness and his constant remembrance in prayer so that the Athenaeum of Italian Catholics, supported by the Toniolo Institute of Higher Studies, which is able to continue to offer young people a valid support for an integral formation and for their choices in life, helping especially those who are worthy and have less possibilities. Also in reference to this specific objective, the usual contribution will be sent, which the Holy Father has decided to allocate to that meritorious Institute of Higher Studies and I express my personal good wishes for the activity and development of the Athenaeum of Italian Catholics.

While His Holiness asks for prayer for himself and for his service to the Church, he renews the entrustment of the Athenaeum of the Sacred Heart of Jesus to the Virgin Mary, Sedes Sapientiae, and sends a special Blessing to Your Eminence, to the University Rector, to the General Ecclesiastical Assistant, to the members of the Toniolo Institute, to the distinguished Professors, to the technical-administrative staff and to all the students.

I take advantage of the circumstance to send my kindest regards to Your Most Reverend Eminence

Devotedly,

Cardinal Pietro Parolin

Secretary of State

[Original text: Italian] [Translation by ZENIT]

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