Benedict XVI at the Gregorian Pontifical University

Source: FSSPX News

On the occasion of the beginning of the academic year, the Holy Father went to the Pontifical University, called “the Gregorian”, on November 3. Founded in 1551 by St. Ignatius of Loyola under the name of Roman College (Collegium romanum), the university was inaugurated in 1584 by Pope Gregory XIII who gave it his name. Under the direction of the Jesuits since its foundation, the Gregorian University teaches theology, philosophy, Canon Law, and the social sciences.

Benedict XVI addressed the students and professors in the following terms: “Since its origins as the Collegium Romanum, the Gregorian University has been distinguished for the study of philosophy and theology. (…) Today, one must take into account the confrontation with secular culture in many parts of the world, which not only tends to deny every sign of God’s presence in the life of society and of the individual, but, with various means that bewilder and cloud the upright human conscience, is seeking to corrode the human being’s capacity and readiness to listen to God. Moreover, it is impossible to ignore relations with other religions, which will only prove constructive if we avoid all forms of ambiguity, which in a certain way undermine the essential content of Christian faith in Christ, the one Savior of all mankind, and in the Church, the necessary sacrament of salvation for all humanity.”

“Here,” continued the Sovereign Pontiff, “I cannot forget the other human sciences which are encouraged at this famous University in the wake of the glorious academic tradition of the Roman College. The great prestige the Roman College acquired in the fields of mathematics, physics and astronomy is well known to all. It suffices to remember that the “Gregorian” Calendar, so-called because it was desired by my Predecessor, Gregory XIII, and currently in use throughout the world, was compiled in 1582 by Fr. Christopher Clavius, a Lecturer at the Roman College. (…) Today, the above-mentioned disciplines are no longer taught at the Gregorian University, but have been replaced by other human sciences such as psychology, the social sciences and social communications. Thus, man desires to be more deeply understood, both in his profound personal dimension and his external dimension as a builder of society in justice and peace, and as a communicator of the truth. For the very reason that these sciences concern the human being, they cannot set aside reference to God. In fact, man, both in his interiority and in his exteriority, cannot be fully understood unless he recognizes that he is open to transcendence.

Deprived of his reference to God, man cannot respond to the fundamental questions that trouble and will always trouble his heart concerning the end of his life, hence, also its meaning. As a result, it is no longer possible to introduce into society those ethical values that alone can guarantee a co-existence worthy of man. Human destiny without reference to God cannot but be the desolation of anguish, which leads to desperation. Only in reference to God’s Love which is revealed in Jesus Christ can man find the meaning of his existence and live in hope, even if he must face evils that injure his personal existence and the society in which he lives. Hope ensures that man does not withdraw into a paralyzing and sterile nihilism but opens himself instead to generous commitment within the society where he lives in order to improve it. This is the task that God entrusted to man when he created him in his own image and likeness, a task that fills every human being with the greatest possible dignity, but also with an immense responsibility.”

“As a Pontifical Ecclesiastical University, this academic Center is committed to sentire in Ecclesia et cum Ecclesia [think in and with the Church]. It is a commitment born from love for the Church, our Mother and the Bride of Christ. We must love her as Christ himself loved her, assuming the suffering of the world to complete what is lacking in Christ’s afflictions in our own flesh (cf. Col 1: 24). In this way, it will be possible to form new generations of priests, Religious and committed lay people. (…) Likewise, you wish to prepare competent lay men and women who will be able to carry out services and offices in the Church, and first and foremost, to be leaven of the Kingdom of God in the temporal sphere. In this perspective, this very year, the University has initiated an interdisciplinary program to train lay people to live their specifically ecclesial vocation of ethical commitment in the public arena.”