Masters of Faith Are Needed, Pontiff Says

Greeting Marks Beginning of Academic Year in Rome

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VATICAN CITY, OCT. 26, 2007 (Zenit.org).- Benedict XVI says the Gospel message needs to affect the way people think, judge and act, and thus, the world needs masters of faith and well-trained heralds.



The Pope affirmed this when he greeted students of the Roman pontifical universities gathered in St. Peter's Square on Thursday.

The students' meeting with the Holy Father followed a Eucharistic concelebration presided over by Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education. The event marked the beginning of the academic year.

Benedict XVI encouraged the students and professors to "establish a climate in which commitment to study and fraternal cooperation enable you to enrich one another, not only in what concerns cultural, academic and doctrinal aspects, but also on a human and spiritual level."

He told them that the chance to study in Rome, "see of Peter's Successor and thus of the Petrine ministry," a city "rich in historical memories, in masterpieces of art and culture, and above all in eloquent Christian testimony […] will help you to reinforce the sense of belonging to the Church and of fidelity to the universal magisterium of the Pope."

And "the presence of students from every continent in the academic institutions, colleges and seminars, offers you as well the chance to experience the beauty of forming part of this unique, great family of God," he continued.

Tradition

"Over time," the Pontiff added, "universities and ecclesiastical faculties came into being, now centuries old. There, entire generations of priests and pastoral workers were formed, including many great saints and illustrious men of the Church."

Referring to Pope John Paul II's apostolic constitution "Sapientia Christiana," which calls for a consideration of new problems in the light of Christian revelation and a presentation of truth "in a manner adapted to various cultures," Benedict XVI affirmed that this commitment "is more pressing than ever in our postmodern age, in which the need is felt for a new evangelization, and which needs masters of faith and appropriately trained heralds and witnesses of the Gospel."

"The time you spend in Rome can and must serve to prepare you to undertake [...] the task that awaits you in the various fields of apostolic activity," the Pope said. "In our own time, the Church's evangelizing mission requires, not only that the Gospel message be spread everywhere, but that it penetrate deeply into the way people think, into their criteria for making judgments and their behavior."

"In a word," he concluded, "the entire culture of modern man must be permeated by the Gospel."