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Friday, December 2, 2011


VATICAN CITY, 2 DEC 2011 (VIS) - Over recent days, the Pontifical Council for the Pastoral Care of Migrants and Itinerant Peoples, which is presided by Archbishop Antonio Maria Veglio, has been holding its third World Congress for the Pastoral Care of International Students. The participants were received this morning by the Holy Father who remarked that the theme chosen for the congress, which focused on the meeting of cultures, is "a fundamental aspect of our age, and is vital for the future of humanity and of the Church".

  "Today more than every the openness of cultures to one another is the most fertile terrain for dialogue among people committed to seeking authentic humanism. The meeting of cultures in universities must, then, be encouraged and supported. ... Thanks to their intellectual, cultural and spiritual formation, international students have, in fact, the potential to become architects and protagonists of a more human world".

  The Pope noted that international students are an increasingly large group within the broader phenomenon of migration. This, he said, can be due to a lack of high-quality education and suitable structures in their countries of origin, the presence of social and political tensions, or the availability of economic support to study abroad. "It is important", he went on, "to offer them a healthy and well-balanced intellectual, cultural and spiritual formation, so that they do not get absorbed into the 'brain drain' but become a socially and culturally relevant group in view of their return as future leaders to their countries of origin" where they can "help to build cultural, social and spiritual 'bridges' with their host nations".

  Universities are a vital field for the evangelisation of the Church, because "the spread of 'weak' ideologies in various sectors of society is a call to Christians to make fresh efforts in the academic world, to encourage the new generations in their search for and discovery of the truth about man and God". In this context, Benedict XVI used the example of Blessed John Henry Newman whose life, "so strongly associated with the world of academe, confirmed the importance and beauty of promoting an educational environment in which intellectual formation, ethics and religious commitment walk hand in hand".

  "Young Christians, who come from different cultures but belong to the one Church of Christ, can show that the Gospel is the Word of hope and salvation for men and women of all peoples and cultures, of all ages and epochs", the Holy Father concluded.
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