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Pope Francis: at “Roma Tre”, university should promote “culture of encounter”. First “threat” to Europe comes from “within”

“The university can also be the place where we process the culture of encounter and welcome for people of different cultural traditions and religions”, Pope Francis said in his discourse submitted to the Rector. Towards the end of his speech, the Pontiff mentioned Nour, the Syrian young woman who boarded the plane with him in Lesbos, and referred to the West’s “fear” of foreigners inasmuch as they might “threaten the Christian culture of Europe”. “Aside from the fact that the first threat to Christian culture in Europe comes precisely from within Europe – Pope Francis pointed out -, being wrapped up in oneself or in one’s own culture is never the way to revive hope or initiate social or cultural renewal. A culture is consolidated in openness to and comparison with other cultures, provided it has a clear and mature awareness of its principles and values”. Hence the Pope’s encouragement to “experience the university as an environment of true dialogue, that does not diminish diversity, but is instead open to constructive comparison. We are called to understand and appreciate the values of others, overcoming the temptation of indifference and fear”. “Never be afraid of the encounter, of dialogue, of comparison!”, he continued: “As you proceed on your path of teaching and study in the university, try to ask yourselves: is my forma mentis becoming more individualistic or more fraternal? If it is more fraternal, it is a good sign, because you are going against the flow but in the only direction that has a future and that offers a future. Solidarity, not proclaimed in words but lived in a concrete way, generates peace and hope for every country and for the entire world. And you, for the fact of working and studying in the university, have a responsibility to leave a good imprint on history”.

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