“Today as in the past, people who wish to be Christ's disciples are called to go against the tide,” said Pope Benedict to a group of Catholic university students today. He also told the young scholars-in-training “not to fear choosing 'alternative' paths” that go against modern culture.
Benedict XVI’s remarks came as he spoke to a delegation from the Italian Catholic University Federation (FUCI) on the occasion their 110th anniversary.
The Pope praised FUCI for contributing “to the formation of entire generations of exemplary Christians who have proved capable of translating the Gospel into life and with life, dedicating themselves in the cultural, civil, social and ecclesial fields."
As examples of their influence the Holy Father pointed to Blesseds Piergiorgio Frassati and Alberto Marvelli, the Italian politicians Aldo Moro and Vittorio Bachelet, "both barbarously murdered," and Paul VI "who was the principal ecclesiastical assistant to FUCI during the difficult years of fascism."
"In the mid 1990s," Benedict explained, "the academic system in Italy underwent a radical reformation, and today has an entirely different aspect, full of promise for the future but also having elements that give rise to legitimate concern."
Knowledge and Faith in Academia
"It is precisely in this field that FUCI can, even today, fully express its original and ever-valid charism: a convinced witness to the 'possible friendship' between knowledge and faith. This involves incessant efforts to unite maturity in faith with growth through study and the acquisition of academic knowledge."
"Study," said Benedict XVI, "also represents a providential opportunity to progress along the road of faith, because well-cultivated intelligence opens man's heart to listening to the voice of God, highlighting the importance of discernment and humility."
Faith Engages the Culture
When a person’s intellect is formed and his heart is open, they must engage the culture. "In modern society," the Holy Father made clear, "there exists a race, sometimes a desperate race, towards appearance and possession at all costs, at the expense, unfortunately, of being.”
“The Church, teacher of humanity, never tires of exhorting people, especially the young of whom you are a part, to remain watchful and not to fear choosing 'alternative' paths which only Christ can indicate," exhorted the Pope.
"Today as in the past, people who wish to be Christ's disciples are called to go against the tide" and not to let themselves be influenced by messages that propagate "arrogance and the achievement of success at all costs.”
"Jesus calls all His friends to live in sobriety and solidarity, to create sincere and disinterested emotional relationships with others. From you, dear young students, He asks for honest commitment to study, cultivating a mature sense of responsibility and a shared interest in the common good."
"May your years at university be, then, training for a convinced and courageous evangelical witness. And to realize your mission, seek to cultivate an intimate friendship with the divine Master, enrolling yourselves in the school of Mary, Seat of Learning."