VATICAN CITY, 19 NOV 2009 (VIS) - At midday today in the Vatican's Paul VI Hall, the Pope received professors and students of Roman pontifical universities, and participants in the general assembly of the International Federation of Catholic Universities (FIUC).
At the beginning of his address the Holy Father recalled how John Paul II's Apostolic Constitution "Sapientia christiana", the thirtieth anniversary of which falls this year, "underlines the urgent need, which still persists today, to overcome the separation between faith and culture, calling for a greater commitment to evangelisation in the firm conviction that Christian Revelation is a transforming power destined to permeate patterns of thought, standards of judgment and norms of behaviour. It is capable of illuminating, purifying and renewing man's conduct and his cultures, and must remain the focal point for teaching and research, as well as the horizon illuminating the nature and goals of all ecclesiastical faculties".
The underlying ideas of "Sapientia christiana", Benedict XVI went on, "still retain all their validity. Indeed, in modern society where knowledge is becoming ever more specialised and sectorial but is profoundly marked by relativism, it is even more necessary to open oneself to the wisdom which comes from the Gospel. Man, in fact, is incapable of gaining a full understanding of himself and the world without Jesus Christ; He alone illuminates man's true dignity, his vocation and ultimate destiny, and opens his heart to a firm and lasting hope".
Professors and students "must never lose sight of the goal to be pursued, that of becoming instruments for the announcement of the Gospel. ... At the same time, it is important to remember that the study of the sacred sciences must never be separated from prayer, from union with God, from contemplation, ... otherwise reflection on the divine Mysteries risks becoming an empty intellectual exercise".
Turning then to address participants in the general assembly of the FIUC, which this year celebrates the sixtieth anniversary of its canonical recognition, the Holy Father encouraged them to make "further efforts to renew your will to serve the Church. In this context, your motto also represents a programme for the future of the federation: 'Sciat ut serviat', to know in order to serve.
"In a culture which reveals a 'lack of wisdom and reflection, a lack of thinking capable of formulating a guiding synthesis'", he added in conclusion, "Catholic universities, faithful to an identity which makes a specific point of Christian inspiration, are called to promote a 'new humanistic synthesis', knowledge that is 'wisdom capable of directing man in the light of his first beginnings and his final ends', knowledge illuminated by faith".
AC/.../ROMAN PONTIFICAL UNIVERSITIES VIS 20091119 (450)