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Pope Benedict XVI Greets the Jesuit-run Gregorian

November 21, 2006

The Vatican released Pope Benedict XVI’s address to the faculty, staff and students of the Jesuit-run Pontifical Gregorian University. I was pleased by the confidence the Holy Father expressed in the Jesuits who run the Gregorian, especially because I am an alumnus of a Jesuit university. While there are many on the outside who criticize the Jesuits and their institutions of higher learning, I can speak from experience that my academic formation by the Jesuits at Saint Louis University was a rigorous and inspiring time.

Here are some highlights from the Pope’s address:

“I greet the Jesuit Fathers who carry out their teaching here with a praiseworthy spirit of self-denial and austerity of life; with them I greet the other Lecturers and extend my thoughts to the Fathers and Brothers of the Pontifical Biblical Institute and the Pontifical Oriental Institute.

Together with the Gregorian University, they form a prestigious academic consortium (cf. Pius XI, “Motu Proprio” “Quod Maxime,” 30 September 1928), since it not only covers teaching but also the patrimony of books of the three libraries, which include incomparable specialized collections.

Lastly, I greet the non-teaching personnel of the University who have wished to make their own voice heard through that of the General Secretary, whom I thank. The non-teaching staff daily carry out a hidden service, but one very important to the mission that the mandate of the Holy See requires of the Gregorian; I offer my cordial encouragement to each one of them.”
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“However, knowing God is not enough. For a true encounter with him one must also love him. Knowledge must become love.

The study of Theology, Canon Law and Church History is not only knowledge of the propositions of the faith in their historical formulation and practical application, but is also always knowledge of them in faith, hope and charity.

The Spirit alone searches the depths of God (cf. I Cor 2:10); thus, only in listening to the Spirit can one search the depths of the riches, wisdom and knowledge of God (cf. Rom 11:33). We listen to the Spirit in prayer, when the heart opens to contemplation of God’s mystery which was revealed to us in Jesus Christ the Son, image of the invisible God (cf. Col 1:15), constituted Head of the Church and Lord of all things (cf. Eph 1:10; Col 1:18). “
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“Human destiny without reference to God cannot but be the desolation of anguish, which leads to desperation.

Only in reference to God’s Love which is revealed in Jesus Christ can man find the meaning of his existence and live in hope, even if he must face evils that injure his personal existence and the society in which he lives.

Hope ensures that man does not withdraw into a paralyzing and sterile nihilism but opens himself instead to generous commitment within the society where he lives in order to improve it. This is the task that God entrusted to man when he created him in his own image and likeness, a task that fills every human being with the greatest possible dignity, but also with an immense responsibility.

It is in this perspective that you, Professors and Lecturers at the Gregorian, are called to train the students whom the Church entrusts to you. The integral formation of young people has been one of the traditional apostolates of the Society of Jesus since its origins; this is why the Roman College took on this mission at the outset.”
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“Dear sons of St Ignatius, once again the Pope entrusts to you this University, such an important institution for the universal Church and for so many particular Churches. It has always been a priority among the priorities of the apostolates of the Society of Jesus. It was in the university environment of Paris that St Ignatius of Loyola and his first companions developed the ardent desire to help souls by loving and serving God in all things, for his greater glory.”
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“This charismatic specificity of the Society of Jesus, expressed institutionally in the fourth vow of total availability to the Roman Pontiff in anything he may see fit to command “ad profectum animarum et fidei propagationem” (ibid., n. 3), is also evident in the fact that the Superior General of the Company of Jesus summons from across the world the Jesuits best suited to carrying out the task of teaching at this University.

Knowing that this might involve the sacrifice of other works and services to further the aims the Society proposes to achieve, the Church is deeply grateful to it and desires the Gregorian to preserve the Ignatian spirit that enlivens it, expressed in its pedagogical method and curriculum.”

You can read the full text of the address here.

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