Castel Gandolfo (Fides Service) – “Just as the new Europe cannot be planned without drawing from its own roots, the same can be said of the university. It is in fact the place par excellence for research for the truth, accurate analysis of phenomena in constant tension in ever more complete and fecund synthesis. And just as Europe cannot be reduced to a market, so the university, while it must insert certainly itself into the social and economic tissue, cannot be subjugated to its needs, to the expense of its nature which remains principally cultural”. Pope John Paul II said this on July 19 at his Summer Residence in Castel Gandolfo when he received in audience the participants of an European Symposium on University and Church in Europe, promoted by the Council of European Bishops’ Conferences and the Commission for Universities of the Italian Bishops’ Conference, to mark the 7th centenary of the La Sapienza University in Rome.
The relationship between University and Church at the beginning of the third millennium, theme of the Symposium, “leads us directly to the heart of Europe, there where her civilisation came to express itself in one of its most emblematic institutions – the Pope said-. We are in the thirteenth and fourteenth centuries: the epoch in which Humanism takes form, a happy synthesis of theological, philosophical knowledge and other sciences. A synthesis unthinkable without Christianity and therefore without the centuries old work of evangelisation carried out by the Church in the encounter with the various ethnic and cultural realities of the continent. This historical memory is indispensable for the foundation of the cultural prospective of Europe of today and tomorrow, in the construction of which the university is called to play an irreplaceable role”.
The Church in Europe looks at the university with esteem and confidence, the Holy Father said, and she is committed to offering her own contribution in different ways: “First of all with the presence of teachers and students able to combine scientific competence and rigour with an intense spiritual life in order to animate the university environment with the spirit of the Gospel. Secondly though Catholic universities in which the heritage of ancient universities is actualised…I wish also to underline the importance of the so called “cultural workshops” which opportunely constitute a pastoral priority of university pastoral and the European level. These workshops engage in constructive dialogue between faith and culture, science, philosophy and theology, and ethics is considered an intrinsic necessity in the search for an authentic service of mankind”. SL (Fides Service 21/7/2003 EM lines 28Words: 381)