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Pope Francis with members of the International Federation of Catholic Universities (CNS/Vatican Media)

Respect for the dignity of every person and for his or her values is as much a part of the identity of a Catholic university as faith, Pope Francis has told members of the International Federation of Catholic Universities. Source: CNS.

“This is perhaps the most beautiful and greatest thing about your universities,” the Pope told university chancellors, rectors and other leaders on Friday.

Explaining that he had “a long speech to read, but my breathing is a bit laboured,” the Pope made only brief remarks to members of the group before greeting each of them individually. 

In an age when many universities have become businesses, Catholic universities “must take a stand,” helping students discover their vocations to contribute to peace and the betterment of society, Pope Francis wrote in his prepared text, which was distributed to participants.

“A Catholic university must make choices, choices that reflect the Gospel,” he wrote to members of the federation of more than 226 Catholic universities and institutes of higher education. Australian Catholic University and the University of Notre Dame Australia are both members of the federation.

Pope Pius XII formally recognised the federation in 1949, noting it “was established ‘in the wake of a horrendous war’ to be a means of fostering ‘reconciliation and the growth of peace and charity among peoples’,” Pope Francis wrote.

In the midst of “a third world war fought piecemeal,” the Pope said, it is even more essential that “Catholic universities be in the forefront of efforts to build the culture of peace, in all its facets, which need to be addressed in an interdisciplinary vision.”

Catholic universities, the Pope said, must assist the Church in engaging “confidently in dialogue on the great issues of our time.”


Catholic universities must be more than a business, Pope says (By Cindy Wooden, CNS via USCCB)