Thursday, 30 October 2003

Vatican City (Fides Service) – At the beginning of the academic year at the pontifical Urban University Fides interviewed the newly appointed Rector Mgr Giuseppe Cavallotto, former dean of the Faculty of Missiology.

Mgr Cavalotto what guidelines you will follow in your mandate?

Well, I will not need a “road map”. We already have one in the norms and statutes of our College. A more operative definition of our journey will be built gradually together as it was underlined by the Cardinal Prefect Crescenzio Sepe who chose to inaugurate the new academic year by officially communicating personally the appointments of Prof. Alberto Trevisiol Dean of Missiology, Mgr Cataldo Zuccaro Vice-Rector and myself as Rector of our University. Moreover, above all with the decisions of the Academic Senate and the support of the Rector’s Council and that of the faculties it is proper to continue along the path already traced. Our academic Institution is a solid building and yet, in a way, it continues to be a workshop under construction according to a set plan at least in its essential traits.

In keeping with its principles and objectives the Pontifical Urban University is ever more deeply committed to the academic field of mission. What are your plans in this regard?

On the one hand mission represents the main pillar of this Pontiff’s teaching and ministry. On the other because of its missionary connotation and the privileged link between the Pope and our Institution, the Pontifical Urban University feels it has a duty to give space to this theme in order to gather orientations, suggestions and encouragement to continue studies, research and also revising its academic programmes, in order to serve, faithful to its tradition and finalities, the formation of those called to work as teachers and qualified operators in the young Churches and more in general in the vast field of mission which touches, because of its nature, the Church which is on every continent. The Holy Father in particular with his rich and varied teaching, his many apostolic journeys, with the various Synods of Bishops, ordinary and continental, has worked to put the Church in a state of mission, urging ecclesial communities to renew themselves through listening to the Word to be, as demanded by the challenges and expectations of our day, witnesses and announcers of the Gospel. Explicit and loud is his call for new “ missionary impulse ”, with the conviction that “missionary zeal is a sign of the vitality of the Church” (R M 1-2). In the present day social, cultural, and religious context, certain missionary urgencies underlined by the Pope become particularly important: missionary evangelisation which is the primary service which the Church can render to every individual and to all humanity” (RM, 2), new evangelisation, catechesis and ongoing Christian formation, inculturation and interreligious dialogue, pastoral options of basic Christian communities and mission open to new forums, the formation of agents of evangelisation and the mission role of the laity, recall that “mission concerns all Christians ” (RM, 2). With his teaching and preaching Pope John Paul II has constantly lifted high the Gospel message faithful to the tradition of the Church but also courageously attentive to the questions, deviation, alienation which afflict men and women and social harmony of our time. Forgoing any comfortable compromise, he has denounced secular and materialist mentalities, tragedies of peoples and minorities, he has lifted his voice against the culture of death, of abortion, the many forms of injustice and violence. Committed to promoting “the building of a city worthy of man” (Ecclesia in Europa, 97), he has defended the dignity and fundamental human rights of the human person, in particular the right to life and religious freedom, he has taken a stand for the culture of welcoming and solidarity, he has lifted his voice, at times unwelcome and unheeded, to affirm and promote the fundamental values of brotherhood and peace.
From the start our University has been a missionary institution. Its special finality is to serve the Church’s missionary activity. This is why we work to prepare competent persons in different disciplines - philosophy, theology, Church Law, pastoral – so that each person with his or her scientific knowledge may illuminate, purify but also valorise the cultures of peoples and foster the encounter of men and women with the Gospel. Our teaching can never be separated from faithful study of Church tradition and teaching. At the same time its scientific elaboration must valorise the new contributions of research present on all continents to put at the centre of our attention, as we are asked by John Paul II, the cultures of the peoples and the great world religions. It is therefore consequential and dutiful for each Faculty to continue to verify and, if necessary, revise its academic programme in order to guarantee, according to its epistemological statute, a specific missionary characterisation.

Dialogue is an essential component of the Church’s mission as we have seen from the prayer meetings in Assisi with members of other Churches and non Christian religions

Prayer shared by people of different religions is of singular missionary importance. It underlines eloquently that the search for God must never divide, it must rather unite people overcoming every form of intolerance. Dialogue is an essential component of the Church’s mission. First of all ecumenical dialogue presented by Pope John Paul II as “walking together towards Christ… Christians moving towards one another and moving forward together”(RM, 30 e 54). With particular insistence, the Pope stresses the value of interreligious dialogue, considered “part of the Church's evangelising mission. Understood as a method and means of mutual knowledge and enrichment, dialogue is not in opposition to the mission ad gentes; indeed, it has special links with that mission and is one of its expressions” (RM, 55).

A brief conclusion

I intend not to lose the heritage left by Mons. Spreafico in his six years as Rector but to make it bear fruit and, as far as possible, give it new impulse.(AP) (30/10/2003 Fides Service; lines: 81 words:1038)