By Francesca Merlo
The heart of Pope Francis’ message to Cardinal de Donatis, Grand Chancellor of the Pontifical Lateran University in Rome, for the inauguration of the start of the new academic year is that students and all staff must feel “involved in planting the seeds of peace.” The Pope explains that this “begins with listening, professionalism and dedication” which he says must always be “accompanied by humbleness, meekness and the desire to be all things to all.”
Education for peace
In current times, the Pope says, there is an ever-growing need to prevent and resolve conflicts. “The Church, in the light of the Gospel, feels called to inspire and support each initiative that ensures…a journey of peace.”
To do this, the Pope continues, there is a need for “an educational effort to listen and understand”, but also for “knowledge and studies of the assets of value” and “of the instruments capable of demolishing tendencies towards isolation, closure and power that brings violence and destruction”.
Searching for solutions
In quoting Evangelii gaudium, Pope Francis goes on to explain that it is not only the Church who is called to favour “finding solutions to problems affecting peace, social harmony, the land, the defence of life, human and civil rights, and so forth.” The university world also has an important role in the pursuit of this objective, says the Pope. He describes university as “a place that symbolises the integral humanity that needs to be constantly renewed and enriched”. This, the Pope explains, helps produce the brave renewed culture that the current time asks for.”
However, the Pope continues, “This does not mean altering the sense of the institution and the traditions consolidated in our academic realities”, but rather “steering its function in the outlook of a more missionary Church”. He stresses that this must be done “first and foremost by addressing the younger generations”.
A dream of peace
Therefore, says the Pope, this is the task with which we are entrusted: “incarnate the Word of God for the Church and for the humanity of the Third Millennium.” All this, says the Pope “without being afraid of risking and dreaming of peace for all people and for all nations”.