Catholic University Training Center for Culture, Education and Holiness

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Pope Francis receives from Rector Anelli and Bishop Giuliodori the volume for which he wrote the preface – Catholic University

We publish the text of the preface that Pope Francis wrote for the two-volume volume of the series “History of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart” (volume III), which is devoted in particular to the “Magisterium of the Church for the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart ”, the realization of which was supervised by Bishop Claudio Giuliodori, general ecclesiastical assistant of the university itself and published by“ Vita e Pensiero ”. The first copy of the two volumes was delivered yesterday on the sidelines of the general audience to the Pope by Bishop Giuliodori himself and by the rector of the university, Franco Anelli. “The Catholic University has been a training ground for cultural development, Christian formation and paths to holiness,” writes Pope Francis in a passage from the preface to the book which has 998 pages. The first of the two volumes contains documents on the teaching of the Popes, from Benedict XV to Francis. These are speeches, audiences and messages that the popes gave to the university during its first 100 years. The second volume, meanwhile, brings together all the University Days of the Catholic University during which the Italian Church urges the faithful to also financially support the University of Italian Catholics. (E.Le.)

The celebrations for the centenary of the birth of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, which took place on December 7, 1921, offer us the opportunity to see first-hand how fruitful and precious the Church’s educational work is, which each time and in all contexts, under the action of divine wisdom, it offers renewed and effective proposals for the formation of new generations. Among the many initiatives promoted on this occasion, the collection and publication of the Magisterium of Italian Popes and Bishops addressed to the University founded by Fr. Agostino Gemelli.

I express my deep gratitude to my brother Bishop Mgr. Claudio Giuliodori, general ecclesiastical assistant of the University, for having edited this work, which offers everyone the possibility of consulting a documentation as vast as it is rich in content. The quantity of master documents reveals the concern that the Church has reserved for this academic institution, accompanying it with timely and valuable interventions from the beginning and through all phases of its development. The scope and quality of the teachings show how important the educational mission is for the Church, in particular the commitment to a high scientific and professional formation in all areas of knowledge and human work, a formation which enables young people to highlight the gifts received and make their contribution to the common good.

This involvement of the Italian popes and bishops alongside an academic institution certainly has historical reasons, linked to the complex relations between the Church and Italian society after the unification of Italy; at the same time, it represents a singular foreshadowing of what will later appear clearly with the Second Vatican Council. Indeed, in the Declaration on Christian Education Gravissimum educationis, Catholic universities are invited to create “a constant and universal public presence of Christian thought in all efforts devoted to the promotion of higher culture; moreover, these institutes must thus train all their students, so that they become men truly distinguished for knowledge, ready to accomplish demanding tasks in society and to bear witness to their faith before the world ”(n. 10).

In the extraordinary development of the University of Italian Catholics, one can see how the Magisterium of the Church has from time to time played a role of support and encouragement, of guide and orientation, of cultural stimulus and of evangelical impulse. The Catholic University of the Sacred Heart has been a real training ground for cultural development, Christian formation and the ways of holiness, of which the inspirer, Blessed Giuseppe Toniolo, co-founder Armida Barelli, close to the beatification, Venerable Giuseppe Lazzati, Servants of God Ludovico Necchi and Giulio Salvadori. The history of “Catholics” is a shining example of the effectiveness and fruitfulness of the alliance between faith and science, theology and knowledge, the spiritual dimension and rationality. Through the texts collected in this volume, it is possible to appreciate a varied Magisterium, which was expressed not so much as a doctrinal guarantor of the faith, but rather as a leaven for the search for truth and for the promotion dialogue with all and in all areas of knowledge, in order to contribute to the full and integral development of humanity.

There is something extraordinary and astonishing about the particular history of the University of Italian Catholics, as the various popes who have accompanied its birth and growth, from Benedict XV to the present day, have repeatedly affirmed it. Born in the troubled period of the interwar period, opposed by many parties and still grappling with enormous economic or organizational difficulties, it was able to overcome all obstacles and gradually broaden the scope of its educational and cultural action. , until it became one of the most important Catholic universities in Europe and the world. A story to be remembered, also to express our gratitude to the Lord and to all those who, starting from the founders, made a point of making it, at different times, a luminous beacon capable of guaranteeing Christian formation and a presence of Catholics. in the society.
Today, in a special way, we must cherish all the progress made to face the challenges of today and those of tomorrow. It is the same Magisterium, dedicated to the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, which invites us to dare to face in a prophetic way the great questions that humanity is confronted with today.

Comforted by the road traveled and aware that this Athenaeum and all Catholic universities are emerging ex rope Ecclesiae, we must know how to look towards the future and towards the fundamental task entrusted to academic institutions, the advanced frontier of the Church’s mission. As I wrote in the Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation Christus lived, we must first promote concrete choices for the “renewal and revival of outgoing missionary schools and universities”, such as: the experience of the kerygma, dialogue at all levels, interdisciplinarity and transdisciplinarity, promotion of the culture of encounter, the urgent need to “network” and the option at least, for those whom society rejects and throws out ”(n. 222). These are the indications contained in a particular way in the Proemio of the Apostolic Constitution. Veritatis gaudium which constitutes the magna carta for the renewal of ecclesiastical universities and faculties, but also offers important ideas for Catholic universities.

Secondly, it is fundamental, and this is a specific task of Catholic academic institutions, to develop a new epistemology, which makes it possible to integrate traditional knowledge and personalist anthropology with the requirements of contemporary knowledge and with innovations in various scientific fields: neuroscience. digital communication, from the quantum and systems approach to a judicious and balanced use of artificial intelligence. “We cannot think of a new laboratory episteme, […] but of life yes. In this context, the university has a conscience, but also an intellectual and moral force whose responsibility goes beyond the person to be educated and extends to the needs of all humanity ”(Address to the participants at the international conference promoted by the Fiuc New Frontiers for University Leaders: The Future of Healthcare and the University Ecosystem, November 4, 2019).

The contribution requested from Catholic universities is therefore essential, within the framework of the Global Pact for Education (cf. A message September 12, 2019). In fact, they must educate those who are called upon to face the unprecedented and, in many respects, dramatic, critical issues of our time. Also thanks to this contribution, young people, with their initiative, can promote an inclusive economy capable of overcoming injustices and discrimination; promote sustainable development that respects our common home; overcome divisions and prejudices to grow a more fraternal and united society; replace the culture of rejection and indifference with that of acceptance and co-responsibility.

But to do all this we have to move from an “aseptic” study, which risks abstraction and estrangement, to a knowledge which knows how to constantly measure itself against reality, always having at heart the truth, the common good and the charity. I would like to express all of this by paraphrasing what I wrote to Pontificia Universidad Católica Argentina: “Do not be satisfied with a [cultura] table. Your place of reflection are the boundaries. And do not fall into the temptation to paint them, to perfume them, to repair them a little and to tame them. Even the good ones [professori e studenti], like good shepherds, they smell the people and the streets and, with their reflection, they pour oil and wine on the wounds of men ”(March 3, 2015).

Inviting us to keep our gaze on the Sacred Heart of Jesus, in which “all the treasures of wisdom and knowledge are hidden” (With the 2, 3), I wish your academic institution to keep alive the memory of all the affection with which the Church has engendered it and of the rich teaching with which it has made it grow, in order to face the current challenges with renewed enthusiasm, no less demanding than in the past. Mary, Seat of Wisdom, inspires, supports and protects the path of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart, so that it looks to the future while remaining faithful to its origins and to its identity, by renewing its educational offer with courage and creativity and putting the best energy in it. at the service of the mission of the Church and of an unavoidable social change.

Pope Francesco

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