JUBILEE THEME: "THE UNIVERSITY
FOR A NEW HUMANISM"
| VATICAN CITY, SEP 9, 2000 (VIS) - This morning in the Paul VI Hall, the Holy Father welcomed
7,000 participants in the Jubilee of Universities and, in his speech, highlighted the theme of their
meetings this past week: "The University for a New Humanism."
Prior to the Pope's arrival and speech, there was the Liturgy of the Word, an address by Archbishop
Francois Xavier Nguyen Van Thuan, president of the Pontifical Council for Justice and Peace, and an
introduction to today's Jubilee celebrations by Prof. Sergio Zaninelli, rector of Sacred Heart Catholic
University. Various speakers then addressed the theme studied this week by the academic community,
as well as recent trends in universities. There was also a presentation of a synthesis of the
international congresses of the World Meeting of University Professors.
In opening remarks, the Pope pointed out that "the basic theme which you have considered - The
University for a New Humanism - fits well with the Jubilee's rediscovery of the centrality of Christ. In
fact, the event of the Incarnation touches the very depths of humanity. ... As men and women of
learning, you never cease to enquire into the value of the human person."
"You have chosen," he went on, "to affirm the need for a university culture which is genuinely
'humanistic', - in the sense, primarily - that culture must correspond to the human person and
overcome the temptations to a knowledge which yields to pragmatism. ... That is why you have
emphasized that there is no contradiction, but rather a logical connection, between freedom of
research and recognition of truth. It is to truth that all research looks. ... This is an aspect which needs
to be underlined, lest we succumb to the climate of relativism to which a large part of today's culture
falls prey. ... A culture without truth does not safeguard freedom but puts it at risk."
The Holy Father observed that "Christian humanism implies first of all an openness to the
Transcendent. It is here that we find the truth and the grandeur of the human person." He added that
we must be wary of "a culture which doubts the very ability of reason to arrive at the truth. This path
runs the risk of misconstruing faith by reducing it to a feeling, to emotion, to art, in the end stripping
faith of all critical foundation. ... Faith does not sprout from the ashes of reason!"
The Pope pointed to the "need for the human and natural sciences to enter into dialogue once again. ...
Scientific and technological progress in our day puts into human hands possibilities which are both
magnificent and frightening."
He urged those involved in scientific research to "make universities 'cultural laboratories' in which
theology, philosophy, human sciences and natural sciences may engage in constructive dialogue,
looking to the moral law as an intrinsic requirement of research."
"The humanism which we desire advocates a vision of society centered on the human person and his
inalienable rights, on the values of justice and peace, on a correct relationship between individuals,
society and the State, on the logic of solidarity and subsidiarity."
In closing, John Paul II recognized that "the university, too, ... is experiencing the trials of the present
time. Nevertheless, it makes an irreplaceable contribution to culture.. ... The Church, which historically
has played a primary role in the actual birth of universities, continues to look upon them with deep