LETTER OF CARDINAL
The Supreme Pontiff learned with great pleasure of the Ukrainian Greek Catholic Church's intention to establish a university which, inspired by the doctrinal heritage of the Christian faith, may give an impetus to cultural progress for the benefit of the whole national society of the beloved land of Ukraine. The Holy Father's blessing of the new institute's foundation stone was a step full of hope, as it were, a seed sown to come later to fruition. As is well known, the academic staff and students were present at this event last 26 June, during his Apostolic Visit to Ukraine.
In the process of rebuilding the ecclesiastical structures after the painful period of Communist persecution, the farsighted project of endowing the Ukrainian cultural scene with a centre of research and Catholic teaching is one whose importance it will be possible to evaluate more satisfactorily in the future, but which is proving especially rich in promise already today. The project was especially dear to the Pastors Andriy Sheptytsky, Josyf Slipyj and Miroslav Ivan Lubachivsky who, unfortunately, because of the tragic events of the time, were unable to see it in action.
"It is the [Church's] duty to serve humanity in different ways", Pope John Paul II writes, "but one way in particular imposes a responsibility of a quite special kind: the diakonia of the truth! This mission on the one hand makes the believing community a partner in humanity's shared struggle to arrive at truth; and on the other hand it obliges the believing community to proclaim the certitudes arrived at" (Encyclical Fides et ratio, n. 2).
As a teacher of humanity, the Church contributes to the full development of human beings, helping them on the way to personal perfection through the acquisition of a deeper knowledge of their own culture and the recovery of their history's roots. In Ukraine, the community of believers, whose 1,000-year-old traditions have helped forge the national identity, can also make a contribution of its own to the development and perfecting of its rich cultural heritage, through the provident instrument of a university structure in which the search for truth, the true haven of freedom, is developed with scientific method.
As a Catholic institution, it is not only individuals who must have a Christian inspiration, but also the university community as such; it must develop a continuing reflection in the light of the Catholic faith on the growing treasury of human knowledge, to which it seeks to contribute by its own research; it must be faithful to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Church in its service to the people of God on their way towards the truth which gives full meaning to man's life on earth (cf. Apostolic Constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae, n. 13).
The new university will thus become a place in which scholars specialized in the various fields of human knowledge will scrutinize reality with the methods proper to each academic discipline and will enter into dialogue with one another to deepen their knowledge and succeed in finding better and more appropriate ways of expressing the objective truth. This is proving particularly necessary in our time when the fragmentation of knowledge in the individual academic disciplines is making it increasingly difficult to achieve that higher synthesis in which alone lies the possibility of satisfying that thirst for truth which is profoundly inscribed in the heart of the human person (cf. ibid., nn. 15-16).
Enriched by the two traditions of East and West, the new university will also become a training-ground for fruitful collaboration between the two great schools which shaped the thought and practice of Ukrainian Catholics, for the full benefit of the ecclesial community and of civil society.
The Vicar of Christ, as he encourages the noble effort of the Church in Ukraine to insert herself actively into the vast prospects of scientific activity, hopes that the entire community of the faithful will support this important initiative with convinced participation throughout the various stages of its realization, and will not let it go without the contribution of prayer and effective concern.
At the solemn moment of the inauguration of the Ukrainian Catholic University, as the Supreme Pontiff implores everyone's commitment to the successful beginning of this undertaking, he invokes upon it the protection of Mary, Mother of Wisdom, and imparts to Your Eminence, to the Pastors, to the clergy and to the Ukrainian faithful, a special Apostolic Blessing, that will bring abundant heavenly favours.
I make the most of this occasion to confirm my distinguished respect for your Eminence,
Yours most devotedly in the Lord,