DAILY CATHOLIC    WEDNESDAY     September 29, 1999     vol. 10, no. 185

from a CATHOLIC perspective

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First World Congress of Delegates Involved in University Pastoral Care

        VATICAN CITY, SEP 27 (ZENIT).- On September 25, John Paul II gave renewed impulse to the Church's attention to the world of universities, when he held an audience for delegates involved in university pastoral care around the world.

        The meeting brought together 110 delegates from 53 Episcopal Conferences. Its specific objective was to organize activities for pastoral care in universities during the Jubilee of the year 2000. In this connection, two important events will take place during the Holy Year: the World Youth Day, which will, of course, include many university students; and the Jubilee of the University World, which will be held from September 4-10, 2000.

    University's Vocation

        During his audience with delegates involved in pastoral care, John Paul II requested they rediscover the "original vocation" of universities, which at present runs the risk of being blurred by "diffuse and pragmatic tendencies."

        The topic of the Congress -- "The University in Favor of a New Humanism," is integrated "in the delicate point of intersection between the dynamics of learning and the Word of the Gospel." The Holy Father referred to it as a new dialogue, destined "to give abundant fruits," because -- as he himself said --, the Gospel "has an idea of the world and man that constantly emits cultural, humanistic and ethical values that can influence the whole vision of life and history."

        "Within this perspective, Vatican Council II stated that the Gospel has the force to renew life and culture continually, in order to purify and elevate these. Given the difficulties, there must be no discouragement in face of the insufficiency of one's own forces," the Pontiff cautioned.


        And there is no lack of difficulties. The Pope referred to the "new problems" stemming from "the profound changes witnessed in this last part of the millennium," such as the rupture in the relation "between faith and reason, between faith and culture and between faith and scientific progress."

        "Within the university context, the advent of new learning and new cultural currents is always linked, either directly or indirectly, to the important questions of man on the meaning of his own being and action, on the value of conscience, (and) on the interpretation of liberty," John Paul II said.

        Therefore, the "priority" for Catholic intellectuals must be the fostering of "a new vital synthesis between faith and culture."

    At the Heart: Encounter with Christ

        "Every apostolic action in the university realm must promote youth's, professors' and all those in the academic world's, personal encounter with Christ," the Pope said. To achieve this objective, it is not wise to restrict the horizon "to the boundaries of the university campus," but rather "to encourage and coordinate the different realities in this field."

        Specifically, John Paul II hopes that in every university "there will be a chaplain, the authentic heart of university pastoral care," in order to "cultivate an open and frank dialogue with different aspects (in the) university."

        At the same time, the Pontiff hopes that initiatives will be launched "at the national level," and that "in collaboration with pastoral organisms of the Episcopal Conferences, the chaplains of each continent will coordinate and reinforce -- through united efforts, the wealth of the multiplicity of local initiatives." ZE99092702

Articles provided through Catholic World News and Church News at Noticias Eclesiales and International Dossiers, Daily Dispatches and Features at ZENIT International News Agency. CWN, NE and ZENIT are not affiliated with the Daily CATHOLIC but provide this service via e-mail to the Daily CATHOLIC Monday through Friday.

September 29, 1999       volume 10, no. 185


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