Pope’s address to scholars on the crisis of culture

Source: FSSPX News


On October 21, at the opening of the Academic Year at the Pontifical Lateran University, Benedict XVI addressed the students and professors: “A context such as the academic one invites in its peculiar way to enter anew the theme of the crisis of culture and identity, which in these decades dramatically places itself before our eyes.”

“In the University the young generations are formed who await a serious, demanding proposal, capable of responding in new contexts to the perennial question on the meaning of our existence. This expectation must not be disappointed. The contemporary context seems to give primacy to an artificial intelligence that becomes ever more dominated by experimental techniques, and in this way forgets that all science must always safeguard man and promote his aspiration for the authentic good. To overrate ‘doing’, obscuring ‘being’, does not help to recompose the fundamental balance that everyone needs in order to give their own existence a solid foundation and valid goal.”

“To let oneself be taken up by the taste for discovery without safeguarding the criteria that come from a more profound vision would be to fall easily into the drama of which an ancient myth speaks: Young Icarus, exhilarated by the flight towards absolute freedom and heedless of the warning of his old father Dædalus, flew ever nearer to the sun, forgetting that the wings with which he flew in the sky were made of wax. His violent fall and death were the price of his illusion. The ancient fable has a perennially valid lesson. In life there are other illusions that one cannot trust without risking disastrous consequences for the existence of one’s self and others.”

“The university professor has the duty not only to investigate the truth and to arouse perennial wonder from it, but also to foster its knowledge in every facet and to defend it from reductive and distorted interpretations. (…) In fact, if the question of the truth and the concrete possibility for every person to be able to reach it is neglected, life ends up being reduced to a plethora of hypotheses, deprived of assurances and points of reference. As the famous humanist, Erasmus, once said: ‘Opinions are the source of happiness at a cheap price!’ To understand the true essence of things, even if its treats of things of minimal importance, costs great endeavor.” (cf. The Praise of Folly, XL, VII).

“God is the ultimate truth to whom all reason naturally tends, solicited by the desire to totally fulfill the journey assigned to it. God is not an empty word or an abstract hypothesis; on the contrary, he is the foundation upon which to build one’s life. (…) To know Him is to know the full truth, thanks to which one can find freedom: ‘You will know the truth, and the truth will make you free” (Jn 8: 32).


On October 23, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, celebrated the Mass for the opening of the Academic Year of the Roman Pontifical Universities in St Peter’s Basilica.

After the Mass, Benedict XVI addressed the 17,500 students and exhorted them to be “obedient to the truth, and thus to cultivate an ascesis of the mind and speech”, avoiding giving in to “the inflation of worldly discourses which seek consensus and common opinion.”

The pope stressed the importance of an “intimate friendship” with Christ and the “priority of the spiritual life” specifying that a deeper study of the Christian truths demanded silence and contemplation.