Prelate Recalls St. Martin's Outreach to the Poor
Says Universities Also Have a Mission of Charity
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ROME, NOV. 11, 2010 (Zenit.org).- Archbishop Fernando Filoni is highlighting the example of St. Martin of Tours, who discovered in the littlest and poorest person the face of Christ.
The prelate, who is in charge of general affairs for the Vatican Secretariat of State, gave an address today for the opening of the 2010-2011 academic year at the University of the Sacred Heart of Rome.
He spoke specifically of the figure of St. Martin, bishop of Tours, whose feast was observed today, affirming that "at a time in which evangelical testimony had overcome the phase of persecution and martyrdom, this saint impersonates the model of the confessor of the faith, who exercises monastic asceticism in the midst of the people."
The archbishop noted, "The gesture carried out by Martin on the road to Amiens, that of sharing his cloak with a beggar, accompanied by the subsequent vision of Christ who appeared to him wrapped, in fact, in the piece of cloak given by him to the poor man, becomes an incisive and synthetic catechesis to learn to discover the face of Christ in every brother, especially the littlest and poorest."
He said that St. Martin, as an "ascetic man of prayer and charity," is "a timely model in whom to be inspired," especially for those who work "in a scientific institution of research, of study and of service."
Archbishop Filoni pointed out that as the saint shared his cloak with the poor man encountered on the road, "also the man of our developed society is in need of someone to wrap him in his cloak, someone who can share with him."
He continued, "The cultural, scientific work -- as well as qualified and competent care of the sick, that, in a spirit of genuine service, the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart is called to realize -- becomes the concrete sharing of the 'cloak' of a genuine humanism, open to transcendence and animated by values of solidarity, fraternity and love."
Learning and knowledge
The specific mission of a university, said the archbishop, "to contribute learning and knowledge, is essentially a 'mission of charity,' sharing its cloak in favor of man and of his quality of life."
Archbishop Filoni explained that "the acquiring of profound competence, indeed, the most profound possible," above all for one who through medical science is "in direct contact with problems regarding the life of persons in moments of difficulty and of suffering," is "not only a commitment, but a duty."
He noted that the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart participates in this mission "with the specific characteristics and objective given by its being 'Catholic,'" being inspired "in the principles of the Gospel and the tradition of the Church," with "a special sensibility to the ethical and religious dimensions."
The prelate added, "In the eventuality, it is also called to say uncomfortable truths, which do not flatter public opinion, but which are necessary to safeguard the authentic good of life, from conception until natural death, and thus the authentic good of society."
The Catholic university, he said, "is the privileged place for a fruitful dialogue between the Gospel and culture, between the Gospel and science," and "it will be that much more faithful to the ideal of its founder, Father Agostino Gemelli, the more it is able to combine seriousness and scientific rigor and Catholic identity, living its activity as a clear service to the Church and to man."
The polyclinic, he concluded, "is a precious school of humanity," in which one can receive much and give one's own competence and one's dedication "having present the image of Christ himself, the true Teacher who, in the Last Supper, bent down to wash the feet of the apostles to indicate that the attitude to man is, and always must be, that of service."