In an audience with the Board of Trustees of the University of Notre Dame today, Pope Francis stressed the importance of an “uncompromising witness” of Catholic universities to the Church’s moral teaching and the defense of her freedom.
The Holy Father met with the trustees on the occasion of the inauguration of the University’s Rome Center.
The Holy Father highlighted the advantages of having the University’s center in the Eternal City, saying that students would benefit from the historical, cultural and spiritual riches of Rome.
The Center, he said, would contribute to “opening their minds and hearts to the impressive continuity between the faith of Saints Peter and Paul, and the confessors and martyrs of every age, and the Catholic faith passed down to them in their families, schools and parishes.”
“From its founding, Notre Dame University has made an outstanding contribution to the Church in your country through its commitment to the religious education of the young and to serious scholarship inspired by confidence in the harmony of faith and reason in the pursuit of truth and virtue,” he continued.
“Conscious of the critical importance of this apostolate for the new evangelization, I express my gratitude for the commitment which Notre Dame University has shown over the years to supporting and strengthening Catholic elementary and secondary school education throughout the United States.”
Drawing from his Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Gaudium, the Holy Father told those present that a commitment to “missionary discipleship” must be evident in the lives of those working in the Church’s institutions.
“Essential in this regard is the uncompromising witness of Catholic universities to the Church’s moral teaching, and the defense of her freedom, precisely in and through her institutions, to uphold that teaching as authoritatively proclaimed by the magisterium of her pastors,” he said.
The Pope expressed his hope that the University of Notre Dame continue to offer a witness to its Catholic identity, “especially in the face of efforts, from whatever quarter, to dilute that indispensable witness.”
Concluding his address, Pope Francis asked for their prayers while assuring his prayers for them and all associated with the University.
“Upon you and your families, and in a particular way, upon the students, faculty and staff of this beloved University, I invoke the Lord’s gifts of wisdom, joy and peace, and cordially impart my Blessing,” he said. (J.A.E.)