The Holy See
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Your Eminence,

The Day of the Catholic University gives us an opportunity to delve into the reasons that led to the foundation of this Institution, which is so important in the recent history of the Church and society in Italy.

Furthermore, this year is a favourable opportunity to take up some ideas for reflection that His Holiness Benedict XVI suggested last 25 November when he inaugurated the Academic Year 2005-06 at its Rome headquarters (cf. Address to Catholic University, 25 November 2005; L'Osservatore Romano English edition, 7 December, p. 7).

Referring to the Magisterium of the Servant of God John Paul II, the Holy Father identified the fundamental mission of every University in the continuous quest for the truth through the search for and preservation and communication of knowledge for the good of society.

"A Catholic academic community", the Pope stressed on that occasion, "is distinguished by the Christian inspiration of the individuals and of the Community itself, by the light of faith that illuminates thought and by fidelity to the Christian message as it is presented by the Church, and by the institutional commitment to the service of the People of God" (cf. ibid.).

On various occasions the Supreme Pontiff Benedict XVI has had the opportunity to stress that a certain criterion of rationality, which is being more and more exclusively asserted, together with that of demonstrability through experimentation, tend to avoid the fundamental human questions - the meaning of life and death - leaving them to the sphere of subjectivity.

This criterion ends by replacing the issue that gave birth to the University - the question of truth and goodness - with the question of feasibility. In this cultural context, Catholic Universities have sought to produce science in the perspective of an authentic and full rationality that is open to the transcendent, to God.

A correct relationship of faith and knowledge is possible in the light of the revelation of Christ, who united in himself God and man, eternity and time, spirit and matter.

The daily work of a Catholic University moves within this horizon, discovering the intrinsic unity that links the different branches of knowledge:  theology, philosophy, physics, medicine, economics and every discipline, even the most specialized technologies, which are all interconnected.

Choosing a Catholic University means opting for this type of approach. It is this approach which, despite the inevitable limitations of history, has given European culture its value, to whose formation Universities, born historically "ex corde Ecclesiae", have made a fundamental contribution.

In the light of the Encyclical Deus Caritas Est, it is then opportune to combine the value of truth with that of Christian love, seeking the applications that  concern  the  university  world closely.
One such springs to mind immediately:  the two words, truth and love, are at the root of the Christian vision of the human being as a person, that is, as a freedom which, illumined and shaped by truth, is fulfilled in love. The social project, which has been known since the Magisterium of Pope Paul VI of venerable memory precisely as the "civilization of love", is based on this concept of the human being.

This University, which is dedicated to the Sacred Heart of Christ, is called in particular to develop to the maximum the close bond that exists between truth and love, so that, on the one hand, the knowledge of God-Love may illumine the theoretical contexts of knowledge, and at the same time, the primacy of the commandment of love may always direct other more practical decisions.

It is this concise vision of God and of the human being, characteristic of Christianity, which motivated the Founders of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart and, thanks to the constant attention of the Toniolo Institute for Advanced Studies which guides the University, must continue to inspire its decisions and future projects.

The Supreme Pontiff has very much at heart that this Catholic Athenaeum - the largest in Italy, and one of the largest in the world - should stay faithful to its original orientation, making the most of the best scientific resources that exist in Italy.

On this occasion, His Holiness wholeheartedly imparts a special Apostolic Blessing to the members of the Toniolo Institute, to the Academic Senate and to the entire family of the Catholic University of the Sacred Heart.

With this Letter please find enclosed a personal contribution which the Holy Father desires to offer to this praiseworthy Institute for Advanced Studies as a sign of his effective solidarity.

To the good wishes of the Supreme Pontiff I would like to add my own, renewing the ties that have always bound me to this excellent University.


Secretary of State