Here is a ZENIT translation of the Letter that the Holy Father Francis sent to the Chancellor of the Pontifical Lateran University, H.E. Cardinal Angelo De Donatis, on the occasion of the opening of the Academic Year and of the institution of the new course of studies in the “Sciences of Peace.”
* * *
The Holy Father’s Letter
To The Venerable Brother
Lord Cardinal Angelo De Donatis
Chancellor of the Pontifical Lateran University
1. The desire for peace, which rises from the human family, has always seen the Church spend herself in making every effort to contribute to liberate men and women from the tragedies of war and to alleviate its dangerous consequences. Also in the present time, in which the need increases to prevent and resolve conflicts, the Church feels challenged, in the light of the Gospel, to inspire and support every initiative that ensures the different Peoples and Countries a path of peace, fruit of that genuine dialogue capable of extinguishing hatred, of abandoning egoisms and self-references, of overcoming desires for power and of oppression of the weakest and the least.
This attempt implies first of all an educational effort of listening and understanding, but also of knowledge and study of the patrimony of values, notions, and instruments capable of breaking down tendencies to isolation, to closure and to the logic of power, which are bearers of violence and destructions. Means of conciliation, forms of justice of transition, guarantees of sustainable development, protection and custody of Creation are some of the instruments that today are able to open the way to forms of peaceful solution of conflicts, to breaking down careerism and dominant positions and thus forming persons dedicated unreservedly to the service of the cause of man.
To be a credible mediator in face of world public opinion, the Church is called to foster “the solution of problems regarding peace, concord, the environment, the defense of life and human and civil rights” (Apostolic Exhortation Evangelii Gaudium, 65). A task carried out also through the action that the Holy See conducts in the International Community and in her institutions, working with the instruments of diplomacy to overcome conflicts with means and mediation, the promotion and respect of fundamental human rights, <and> the integral development of Peoples and Countries.
2. In pursuing such an objective, the university realm has a central role, place that is a symbol of that integral humanism that needs continually to be renewed and enriched, so that it’s able to produce the courageous cultural renewal for which the present moment calls. This challenge also questions the Church that, with her global network of Ecclesiastical Universities, can “make the decisive contribution of the leaven, of the salt and of the light of the Gospel of Jesus Christ and of the living Tradition of the Church, always open to new scenarios and new proposals,” as I reminded recently in reforming the regulation of the academic studies in Ecclesiastical Institutions (Cf. Apostolic Constitution Veritatis Gaudium, 2). This certainly doesn’t mean to alter the institutional meaning and consolidated traditions of our academic realities, but rather to orient their function in the perspective of a more markedly Church “going forth” and missionary. In fact, it’s possible to address the challenges of the contemporary world with the capacity of an adequate response in the contents and compatible in the language, addressing first of all the new generations. This, then, is the task that is entrusted to us: to incarnate the Word of God for the Church and for the humanity of the Third Millennium. And, in doing so, it’s important that the students and docents feel themselves pilgrims called to proclaim the Good News to all peoples, not being afraid of risking and of dreaming of peace for all peoples and all nations.
3. Therefore, animated by the desire to transpose in the academic environment, and to equip with a scientific method this patrimony of values and actions, I institute in that Pontifical University, which participates specifically in the mission of the Bishop of Rome, a series of studies in the Sciences of Peace, as an academic course in which the theological, philosophical, juridical, economic and social ambits concur according to the inter- and trans-disciplinary criterion (Cf. Ibid., 4, c). Therefore, the curricular structure will draw from the course of teachings imparted by the Faculties and the Institutes of the Lateran University, to confer academic degrees of Baccalaureate and Licentiate at the conclusion, respectively, of a first triennial series and a biennial series of specialization.
4. Through you, Lord Cardinal, I entrust the new course of studies to the University, assigning the direction to the Rector, so that a specific scientific formation of priests, consecrated persons and laymen is guaranteed. Diocesan Bishops, Military Ordinaries, Episcopal Conferences, men and women Superiors of the different forms of consecrated life, and those in charge of lay Associations and Movements, and all those that desire it, will be able to look to the Sciences of Peace to promote an appropriate preparation of present and future agents of peace.
In face of this task, I hope that, in the daily service of the See of Peter, the whole Lateran University community — all docents, students, and staff — will feel involved in sowing the seeds of the culture of peace. A work that begins with listening, professionalism, and dedication, ever accompanied by humility, meekness and the will to be everything to all.
I put under the protection of my two Holy Predecessors, John XXIII and Paul VI, true and proper heralds of peace in the world, who contributed so much to the development of the magisterium in this field, this new fruit of the Church’s solicitude, entrusting it to Mary Queen of Peace, so that She will help us to understand and to live that fraternity that her Son’s Heart calls for and from which true peace stems.
From the Vatican, November 12, 2018
Memorial of Blessed John of Peace
© Libreria Editrice Vatican[Original text: Italian] [ZENIT’s translation by Virginia M. Forrester]