Friday, November 03, 2006

The Holy Father's Visit to the Gregorian

This morning, Benedict XVI travelled to Rome's Pontifical Gregorian University. On arrival, he visited the chapel for an interval of prayer, then moved on to the university's covered courtyard where he met with professors, students and benefactors.

After greetings from the university rector, Fr. Gianfranco Ghirlanda S.J., the students' representative, Fr. Bryan Lobo S.J., and the secretary general, Luigi Allena, the Pope delivered his address.

In opening his remarks, the Pope recalled how in 1972 he was invited to teach a course on the Blessed Eucharist, and he reminded professors and students that "the effort of study and teaching, in order to be meaningful with regard to the Kingdom of God, must be supported by the theological virtues. The immediate objective of theological science, in its various aspects, is God Who revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, God with a human face."

"Today," he continued, "we cannot fail to take account of the confrontation with secular culture, which in many parts of the world tends ... not only to deny all signs of God's presence in the life of society and of individuals, but, with various means that disorient and confuse man's correct understanding, seeks to undermine his capacity to listen to God.

"Nor can we ignore," he added, "relations with other religions." Such relations "are constructive only if they avoid all ambiguities that in any way weaken the essential contents of Christian faith in Christ, the only Savior of all mankind, and in the Church, a necessary sacrament for the salvation of all humanity."

Other human sciences such as psychology, social science and communications, "precisely because they concern human beings, cannot omit a reference to God. Indeed, man, both in his interior and exterior aspects, cannot be fully understood if he is not recognized as being open to transcendence."

He continued: "Deprived of his reference to God, man cannot respond to the fundamental questions that disturb, and always will disturb, his heart; questions that concern the aim and, hence, the meaning of existence. ... Man's destiny, without reference to God, cannot but be the desolation of anguish that leads to desperation. Only with reference to God-Love, revealed in Jesus Christ, can man discover the meaning of his life, and live in hope, even while experiencing the evils that injure his personal life and the society in which he lives. Hope ensures that man does not close himself in a stagnant and sterile nihilism, but opens himself to generous commitment in the society in which he lives in order to improve it."

Highlighting the fact that the integral formation of young people "is one of the traditional forms of the apostolate of Company of Jesus," the Holy Father recalled how the university's statutes and general regulations are currently being renewed, in order, he said, "to define the identity of the Gregorian University more clearly, facilitating the preparation of the most appropriate academic programs for carrying out its mission."

"As an ecclesial pontifical university, this academic institution is committed to 'sentire in Ecclesia et cum Ecclesia.' This is a commitment that arises from love for the Church, our Mother and Bride of Christ."

Following the ceremony and before returning to the Vatican, the Pope visited the "Matteo Ricci" congress center where he greeted the religious community of Jesuits.

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