ROME, NOV. 19, 2004 (Zenit.org).- University chaplains and the European bishops’ conference seek to contribute to the elaboration of “a new integral humanism” through their work in universities.
This week the bishops and chaplains released the first draft of “Guidelines for University Pastoral Care in Europe,” a document which articulates the theological-pastoral reasons for an appropriate theoretical and practical approach to the university realm and its culture.
The document offers a frame of reference for an organic evangelization of culture, and states that “the university pastoral program contributes to the elaboration of a new integral humanism.”
“Man must be at the center of all scientific research and cultural endeavor,” explained Archbishop Cesare Nosiglia, delegate of the European bishops’ conference, at the headquarters of Vatican Radio. “The human person must be at the center with his/her rights, duties, and needs, including the spiritual and moral. Integral humanism means this precisely: the full integrity of the human person, in all his dimensions.”
The text also reflects that the university pastoral program can contribute likewise to the Christian roots of Europe, supporting “the development of the university’s life” and promoting a genuine cultural pastoral program, not restricted to the attention of students and professors.
According to Monsignor Lorenzo Lezzy, coordinator for the European Committee of University Chaplains, there are more than 500 university chaplains in the whole continent, as quoted by the Italian newspaper Avvenire.
Giuseppe Dalla Torre, rector of Libera Universita Maria Santissima Assunta, said that their work can foster “the inculturation of the faith and the evangelization of the culture” which “enters fully in the responsibilities of the Church, especially in the context of a secularized society such as the contemporary.”
The document also points out that in the European university scene, Catholic centers represent a significant reality in the area of dialogue between faith and culture, which the Christian community promotes.
In fact, “the purpose both of universities as well as of the Church’s higher centers of study is, first of all, to guarantee in an institutional way a Christian presence in the university realm with a view to the important problems of the society and culture of our time,” clarified Agustin del Agua, director of the episcopal subcommission for universities in Spain.
“As institutions of teaching and research, they intend, from the Christian faith, to help in the integral formation of university students, recognizing that it is Jesus Christ who discovers to man the greatness of his vocation and gives meaning and fullness to his aspirations,” he explained.
These centers work and exert themselves “to offer an education that is not only intellectual” or “professional”, but geared to “the person in all his richness, which includes his insertion in history and openness to transcendence,” he specified.
Archbisop Nosiglia said, moreover, that it is “significant that the document comes out in the Year of the Eucharist” to “remind all that the heart of the humanistic culture is that gratuitous love that promotes a new man and a new world.”
The text is now entrusted to the European episcopal conferences, in particular to the bishop who work specifically with University pastoral care, to chaplains, and to those responsible for youth pastoral care, thus opening a phase of consultation in view of the final writing planned for next autumn.