On the Occasion of the Inauguration of the Academic Year of the Pon- tifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome (October 9, 2019)

On the occasion of the inauguration of the 2019-2020 academic year at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Rome (October 9, 2019)

The Statutes of this University establish that “through the research, study and teaching of Ecclesiastical Sciences ... the University seeks to serve the Church in full and faithful union with its Magisterium, thus cooperating with the Roman Pontiff in the concern for all the Churches.”[1] During these days, when a synod is being held about the Church’s mission, it is fitting to consider that all the University’s efforts are closely linked to the evangelizing mission of the Church, called to go forth not only geographically but also to the depths of each person and the heart of every culture.[2]

Collaborating in this commitment of service to the Church is the bedrock of the teaching activity and all the work carried out by the University’s various offices. The educational purpose of the University is to carry out, through its double mission of research and teaching, an intellectual and formative project in the light of Christian Revelation, to enable people to effectively pass on the faith in today’s cultural and social context.

The Pontifical University of the Holy Cross has accepted the indication of the Pope – expressed in the Apostolic Constitution Veritatis gaudium – to foster a renewal in ecclesiastical studies, in accord with the Church’s needs today. To achieve this goal, some basic criteria are necessary, which the document underlines. In the first place, the invitation to reinforce the dialogue between the different disciplines: between those that are properly ecclesiastical as well as between these and the other disciplines of human knowledge. The document refers to an interdisciplinary effort, understood as a true enlightening and enriching of all human knowledge, through the light that proceeds from Divine Revelation.[3]

This is an important contribution that ecclesiastical schools can offer the academic world, as well as society and culture in general.[4] Today, in the face of the increasing fragmentation of knowledge, we see how postmodern thinking has renounced “great narratives” or “comprehensive visions.” What is needed is a wise vision that encompasses all disciplines, including the search for solutions to the problems afflicting humanity today. In this context, a decree recently signed by the President of the Italian Republic regarding recognition by the State of the titles issued by institutions of higher education erected or approved by the Holy See, seems to open the way for a more fruitful relationship between Pontifical institutions in Rome and the other Italian universities, in order to offer even more opportunities for lay people who wish to pursue a course of study in the Pontifical schools.[5]

All this can have very positive effects on the relationship between the university and society, between the world of studies and research and the world of work and production. This is the third mission, besides research and teaching, that is characteristic of every university. The University of the Holy Cross takes up this challenge, putting at the service of the Church’s evangelizing mission especially the central message of Opus Dei: the search for the fullness of the Christian life in secular realities and in everyday life. It is an opportunity, therefore, to intensify a fruitful dialogue with contemporary culture. The professors in the different departments have already launched several initiatives of this type. These include the Center for Legal Studies on the Family, and the Center for Markets, Culture and Ethics, which strives to go deeper into the cultural and moral foundations required for the functioning of markets that respect the dignity of the human person, in the light of reason and faith. Other projects include the Higher Institute of Interdisciplinary Education, whose goal is to increase the humanistic and philosophical and theological culture of young graduates, as well as the Science, Theology and Ontological Search initiative, which in collaboration with other Roman universities seeks to foster dialogue between science and faith, through study and research programs. There are also other research groups, such as Family and Media, the Working Group on

Relational Ontology Research, etc.

The University’s contribution to society does not depend solely on the teaching staff; it is the result of the harmonious work of all those who make it up. In particular, together with the various aspects of formal education, the educational impact of what is called the “hidden curriculum” is seen as being every more relevant. That is, the informal communication, apparently invisible and difficult to conceptualize, which belongs to the entire university community. This pedagogical action, composed of words, gestures and attitudes, creates a family environment rich in human encounters and acts as a source of teaching and learning that synergizes with the academic dimension. It is not uncommon for students to stress how, together with the beauty and depth of their intellectual experience, they have become deeply involved in the human and spiritual formation that takes place here through friendship and the unity of apostolic life shared by the academic community. The family tone and the high academic level are part of the precious legacy that we have received from Saint Josemaría and that has been continued by the first two Chancellors of this University, Blessed Alvaro del Portillo and Bishop Javier Echevarría.

We give thanks to God for the work done so far and beseech the Holy Spirit for help to continue our university mission. I entrust to the maternal intercession of Mary the 2019-2020 academic year, which I now declare in session.

[1] Statutes, 3 &1.

[2] Cf. Apost. Const. Veritatis gaudium, 27 December 2017, nos. 1-2.

[3] Cf. Ibid, no. 4 c).

[4] Cf. Ibid, no. 5.

[5] Decree of the President of the Republic, 27 May 2019, published in the Gazzetta Ufficiale no. 160, 10 July 2019.

Romana, n. 69, July-December 2019, p. 237-239.

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