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Monday, September 23, 2013

IN TIMES OF CRISIS, THE UNIVERSITY NURTURES HOPE


Vatican City, 22 September 2013 (VIS) – Pope Francis met with the world of culture in the regional theological faculty of Cagliari, managed by Jesuit priests. The pontiff spoke of encountering paths of hope which open up new horizons to our society; of solidarity as a way of making history as a vital environment in which conflicts, tensions, and opposites create a harmony that generates life. The University, as a point of encounter between believers and non-believers, is a context in which faith can make a contribution without encroaching on the space of reason.

The Holy Father began by speaking on the passage from the Gospel about the path to Emmaus, and how we encounter the disillusionment, deception and crisis of the two men in our current situation. “When I speak of crisis”, he said, “I do not think of a tragedy. … We speak of danger, but also of opportunity. This is the sense in which I use the word. Certainly, each historical age brings critical elements with it, but, at least in these last four centuries, we have never seen the fundamental certainties that constitute the life of human beings so shaken as they have been in our age”.

Faced with this crisis, there may be resignation, pessimism with regard to every possibility of effective action. … Crisis may transform into a moment of purification and reflection on our social and economic models and a certain concept of progress that has given rise to delusions, in order to recover all dimensions of the human person. Discernment is not blind, or provisional; it is carried out on the basis of ethical and spiritual criteria, requiring that we question ourselves about what is good, and that we make reference to values belonging to spiritual and transcendent vision; the person may never simply be considered as 'human material'! This is perhaps the hidden suggestion of functionalism”. Francis thus described the vital function of the University, as a locus for wisdom in which discernment is shaped and hope is nurtured. A place for “the development of a culture of nearness and for the formation of solidarity”.

Francis affirmed that in relation to this concept of encounter in crisis, “I have found in young politicians another way of thinking about politics. I would not say better or worse, but a different way. They speak differently, they are searching … their music is different to our music. We must not be afraid!”, he encouraged them. Let us listen to them, speak with them. They have intuition: let us be open to their intuition. I say young politicians because that is what I have heard, but young people in general look for a different key. To help us towards encounter, it will help us to hear the music of these politicians, these scientists, these young thinkers”.


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