.- Pope Benedict XVI spoke this morning at the Pontifical Gregorian University, which was founded by St. Ignatius of Loyola and is considered the mother of the Jesuit order’s extensive system of universities. The Holy Father reminded students, faculty, and benefactors of the university that the fundamental questions of mankind cannot be answered without God.
Upon arriving at the university, which stands near Rome’s Trevi Fountain, Pope Benedict went immediately to the school’s chapel. The Holy Father spent some time in prayer before moving to the university’s central courtyard and greeting the waiting crowd.
The Pope reminded professors and students that "the effort of study and teaching, in order to be meaningful with regard to the Kingdom of God, must be supported by the theological virtues. The immediate objective of theological science, in its various aspects, is God Who revealed Himself in Jesus Christ, God with a human face."
"Today," he continued, "we cannot fail to take account of the confrontation with secular culture, which in many parts of the world tends ... not only to deny all signs of God's presence in the life of society and of individuals, but, with various means that disorient and confuse man's correct understanding, seeks to undermine his capacity to listen to God.”
Other human sciences such as psychology, social science and communications, "precisely because they concern human beings, cannot omit a reference to God. Indeed, man, both in his interior and exterior aspects, cannot be fully understood if he is not recognized as being open to transcendence."
"Deprived of his reference to God, man cannot respond to the fundamental questions that disturb, and always will disturb, his heart; questions that concern the aim and, hence, the meaning of existence,” the Pope said. “Man's destiny, without reference to God, cannot but be the desolation of anguish that leads to desperation. Only with reference to God-Love, revealed in Jesus Christ, can man discover the meaning of his life, and live in hope, even while experiencing the evils that injure his personal life and the society in which he lives. Hope ensures that man does not close himself in a stagnant and sterile nihilism, but opens himself to generous commitment in the society in which he lives in order to improve it."
Pope Benedict also addressed the need for interreligious dialogue, noting that dialogue does not mean compromising one’s own faith. We cannot, “ignore relations with other religions." But, he said, such relations "are constructive only if they avoid all ambiguities that in any way weaken the essential contents of Christian faith in Christ, the only Savior of all mankind, and in the Church, a necessary sacrament for the salvation of all humanity."
The Holy Father spoke of that fact that Jesuit education has always placed a strong focus on the formation of the whole person and noted how the university's statutes and general regulations are currently being renewed, in order, he said, "to define the identity of the Gregorian University more clearly, facilitating the preparation of the most appropriate academic programs for carrying out its mission."
"As an ecclesial pontifical university, this academic institution is committed to 'sentire in Ecclesia et cum Ecclesia.' This is a commitment that arises from love for the Church, our Mother and Bride of Christ."