By Vatican News
The name of Sophia University means, literally, “University of Higher Wisdom." Founded by the Society of Jesus in 1913, and located in the heart of Tokyo, today it is considered one of Japan’s leading private research universities.
Pope Francis addressed students, professors, and staff of the University on Tuesday morning, just prior to his departure for Rome.
Study and meditation
Study and meditation, he said, are part of every culture, and Japanese culture “is rightly proud of its ancient and rich heritage in this regard.” “Japan has been able to integrate the thinking and the religions of Asia as a whole, and to create a culture with a well-defined identity”, said the Pope.
“Since universities continue to be the primary place where future leaders are trained”, he continued, “it is necessary that a breadth of knowledge and culture inspire every aspect of the life of educational institutions, making them ever more inclusive and capable of generating opportunities and social advancement.”
Shaping a better society
Playing on the Greek word “Sophia”, meaning “Wisdom”, the Pope said we have always been in need of true Wisdom “in order to manage our resources in constructive and efficient ways.”
Referring to present-day Japan as a “competitive and technologically oriented” society, he suggested that Sophia University be a center not only of intellectual formation, “but also of a place where a better society and a more hope-filled future can take shape.”
The Ignatian tradition
Pope Francis confirmed that “Sophia University has always been marked by a humanistic, Christian and international identity.” He expressed his confidence that this identity would grow stronger, “so that today’s great technological advances can be put at the service of a more humane, just and ecologically responsible education.”
The Ignatian tradition, on which Sophia is based, “ought to inspire professors and students alike to create an atmosphere that fosters reflection and discernment”, he said. Every graduate student should be able to face even complex situations knowing his or her conduct is “just and humane, conscientious and responsible”, showing they are “resolute defenders of the vulnerable.”
Focusing on young people
The universal Church looks “with hope and interest to young people worldwide”, affirmed Pope Francis.
Sophia University should not only offer young people an excellent education, he said, but also allow them to be part of that education: “offering their insights and sharing their vision and hopes for the future.”
Walking with the poor
Pope Francis stressed how Sophia University’s Christian and humanistic tradition is fully consonant with “walking with the poor and the outcasts of our world.”
Marginalized individuals should be “creatively incorporated into the life and curriculum of the university, in an effort to bring about an educational approach aimed at reducing distances and disconnects”, said the Pope. “Quality university education should not be the privilege of a few, but constantly informed by the effort to serve justice and the common good”, he added.
Pope Francis concluded his address with words of encouragement and challenge: “The Lord and his Church are counting on you to share in the mission of seeking, finding and spreading Divine Wisdom”, he said, “and thus offering joy and hope to present-day society.”
Watch the full video of the event (with English commentary):