Faith and Reason Can Be Friends, Says Pope

Urges University Students to Unite Belief and Knowledge

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VATICAN CITY, NOV. 9, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI is inviting university students to show with the testimony of their lives that a friendship between faith and reason is possible.



Today in the Vatican, the Pope received in audience a delegation from the Italian Catholic University Federation (FUCI) for the occasion of the organization's 110th anniversary.

The Holy Father affirmed that the organization "has contributed to the formation of entire generations of exemplary Christians who have proved capable of translating the Gospel into life and with life, dedicating themselves in the cultural, civil, social and ecclesial fields."

In this context, he recalled Blessed Piergiorgio Frassati and Blessed Alberto Marvelli; the Italian politicians Aldo Moro and Vittorio Bachelet, "both barbarously murdered"; and the future Pope Paul VI, "who was the principal ecclesiastical assistant to FUCI during the difficult years of fascism."

Transformation

The Pontiff noted that in the mid-1990s "the academic system in Italy underwent a radical reformation, and today has an entirely different aspect, full of promise for the future but also having elements that give rise to legitimate concern."

He explained: "It is precisely in this field that FUCI can, even today, fully express its original and ever-valid charism: a convinced witness to the 'possible friendship' between knowledge and faith. This involves incessant efforts to unite maturity in faith with growth through study and the acquisition of academic knowledge.

"Study also represents a providential opportunity to progress along the road of faith, because well-cultivated intelligence opens man's heart to listening to the voice of God, highlighting the importance of discernment and humility."

At any cost

The Pope affirmed that "people who wish to be Christ's disciples are called to go against the tide" and not to let themselves be influenced by messages that propagate "arrogance and the achievement of success at all costs."

He said that in modern society, "there exists a race, sometimes a desperate race, toward appearance and possession at all costs, at the expense, unfortunately, of being. The Church, teacher of humanity, never tires of exhorting people, especially the young of whom you are a part, to remain watchful and not to fear choosing 'alternative' paths which only Christ can indicate."

"Jesus calls all his friends to live in sobriety and solidarity, to create sincere and disinterested emotional relationships with others," Benedict XVI added. "From you, dear young students, he asks for honest commitment to study, cultivating a mature sense of responsibility and a shared interest in the common good.

"May your years at university be, then, training for a convinced and courageous evangelical witness. And to realize your mission, seek to cultivate an intimate friendship with the divine Master, enrolling yourselves in the school of Mary, Seat of Learning."