Excerpts from the Address at the Meeting with the Academic and Cultural World

Pope Francis

Cagliari, Sardinia
22 September 2013


“…b.  Another element: The university as a place where the culture of closeness develops, a culture of closeness. This is a proposal: a culture of closeness. Isolation and withdrawing into one’s own interests are never the way to restore hope and bring about a renewal. Rather, it is closeness, it is the culture of encounter. Isolation, no. Closeness, yes. Culture clash, no; culture of encounter, yes. The university is a privileged place where this culture of dialogue is promoted, taught and lived, this culture which does not indiscriminately level out differences and plurality — this is one of the risks of globalization — nor does it take them to the extreme, causing them to become causes of conflict. Rather, it opens to constructive dialogue. This means understanding and esteeming someone else’s riches; it means not seeing him with indifference or fear, but as an opportunity for growth. The dynamics that regulate relationships between people, groups and nations often do not involve closeness and encounter but rather conflict. I refer again to the Gospel passage. When Jesus approaches the two disciples of Emmaus he shares in their journey, he listens to their reading of reality and to their disappointment, and he talks to them. In this way, he rekindles hope in their hearts; he opens up new horizons that were already present but which only the encounter with the Risen One makes it possible to recognize. Never be afraid of encounter, of dialogue, of comparisons, between universities. At all levels. We are here at the centre of the Faculty of Theology. Allow me to say to you: do not be afraid to open yourselves likewise to the horizons of transcendence, to an encounter with Christ nor to deepen your relationship with him. Faith never restricts the space for reason; rather, it opens it to an integral vision of man and of reality and acts as a defence against the danger of reducing man to “human material”.

c. One final element: The university as a place of formation in solidarity. The word solidarity does not belong solely to a Christian vocabulary. It is a word that is fundamental to human vocabulary. As I said today it is a word which in the present crisis, risks being eliminated from the dictionary. The discernment of reality, by taking on the moment of crisis, and the promotion of a culture of encounter and dialogue, orientate us to solidarity as a fundamental element for a renewal of our societies. The encounter, the dialogue between Jesus and the two disciples of Emmaus, which rekindles their hope and renews their life’s journey, leads to sharing: they recognize him in the breaking of the bread. It is the sign of the Eucharist, of God who makes himself so close in Christ that he becomes a constant presence, that he shares his very life. And he says this to everyone, even to non-believers: it is precisely in solidarity unspoken yet practiced that relationships change from considering someone as “human material” or “a number” to seeing him as “a person”. There is no future for any country, for any society, for our world, unless we are able to show greater solidarity. Solidarity, then, as a way of making history, as a vital context in which conflicts, tensions, and even those who oppose one another attain a harmony that generates life. In thinking about this this reality of encounter in crisis, I have found in young politicians another way of thinking about politics. I don’t say better or worse, but different. They speak differently, they are seeking … their music is different from our music. Let us not be afraid! Let us listen to them, They have an intuition: let us open ourselves to their intuition. It is an intuition of young life. I say young politicians because this is what I have heard about, but the young in general are looking for this different key. To assist us in the encounter, it will help us to listen to the music of these young politicians, “scientists”, young thinkers.