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Pope Speaks to Italian Catholic University of the Sacred Heart

By Vatican Information Service
May 24th, 2011
Vatican Information Service ()

The Christian perspective is not in contradiction of scientific knowledge or the achievements of human ingenuity. Just the opposite, it considers faith as the horizon of meaning, the path to full truth, and the guide of authentic development. Without an orientation to the truth, without a humble and ardent attitude of investigation, every culture crumbles, decays into relativism, and becomes lost in the ephemeral.

VATICAN CITY (VIS) - Saturday afternoon, May 21, 2011, in the Paul VI Hall of the Vatican, Benedict XVI met with administrators, teachers, and students of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart of Italy on the occasion of the 90th anniversary of its foundation.

The Pope referred to "great and rapid transformations" that are affecting the university: "humanist culture is being affected by a progressive deterioration; ... there exists the tendency to reduce the human horizon to what can be measured, to eliminate the fundamental question of meaning from systematic and critical knowledge".

In this sense, he noted that "in the way in which the empirical sciences monopolize the territories of reason, it seems that there is no more room for reasons to believe; the religious dimension is relegated to the sphere of what is opinion and private. In this context, the very motivations and characteristics of the institution of the university are called into question".

"The Christian perspective", he continued, "is not in contradiction of scientific knowledge or the achievements of human ingenuity. Just the opposite, it considers faith as the horizon of meaning, the path to full truth, and the guide of authentic development. Without an orientation to the truth, without a humble and ardent attitude of investigation, every culture crumbles, decays into relativism, and becomes lost in the ephemeral".

Benedict XVI emphasized that "faith and culture are indissolubly united, a manifestation of that 'desiderium naturale vivendi Deum' that is present in each human being. When this tie is broken, humanity tends to fold in on itself and become locked within its own creative capacities".

"The question of Truth and the Absolute - the question of God - ... is the fundamental question upon which the discovery of the meaning of the world and of life depends. ... Knowledge of the faith, therefore, illuminates human research, interprets it, humanizing it, integrates it in projects for the good, rooting out the temptation of calculative thought that instrumentalizes knowledge and turns scientific discoveries into ways of enslaving persons".

The Holy Father stressed that "the horizon that animates the work of a university can and should be the authentic passion for the human being. ... Serving humanity is doing the truth in love, it is loving life, always respecting it, beginning with the situations in which it is most fragile and defenseless. This is one of our tasks, especially in times of crisis: the history of cultures shows that human dignity has been truly recognized in its totality in the light of the Christian faith".

"The attitude of closure or detachment in the face of the proposal of faith means forgetting that throughout history, and even today, it has been an impetus of culture and light for human intelligence, a stimulus to develop all its positive capacities for the true good of humanity".

While highlighting that "the testimony of the faith and of love are inseparable", the Pope noted that "in Jesus we discover that God is love and only in love can we know Him. ... The pinnacle of knowing God is reached in love. ... The human person needs love, needs the truth, in order not to ruin the fragile treasure of freedom and be exposed to the violence of the passions and to clear or hidden conditionings".

Addressing in particular the professors, Benedict XVI reminded them that they have been entrusted with "a decisive role: showing how the Christian faith can be an impetus of culture and light for the intelligence".

The Pope concluded, pointing out that "the Chapel is the beating heart that constantly nourishes the life of the university, along with the pastoral centers connected to it where the spiritual assistants of the different branches are called to carry out their precious priestly mission, which is essential for the identity of the Catholic University".

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