Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C.
Invited by the Vatican’s Congregation for Catholic Education to a meeting of Catholic educators from around the world at the papal retreat at Castel Gandolfo near Rome, University of Notre Dame President Rev. John I. Jenkins, C.S.C., on Thursday (Nov. 19) cited Pope Francis and the late Rev. Theodore M. Hesburgh, C.S.C., president emeritus of Notre Dame, in urging that Catholic universities serve as “both a beacon for the world, which shows the light of the Gospel, and a crossroads, where genuine seekers of truth can come together in dialogue.”
Excerpts from remarks delivered by Father Jenkins Thursday at the world congress follow.
“Father Theodore Hesburgh, C.S.C., who served as president of Notre Dame for 35 years, once said that a Catholic university is both a beacon for the world, which shows the light of the Gospel, and a crossroads, where genuine seekers of truth can come together in dialogue. This dual role is also identified in the words of Pope Francis who, in an address to me and to other leaders of Notre Dame, called us as a Catholic university to reflect a missionary discipleship, for a Catholic is ‘by its very nature … committed to demonstrating the harmony of faith and reason and the relevance of this Christian message for a full and authentically human life.’ (Address of Pope Francis to the University of Notre Dame, Jan. 30, 2014.)
“At the same time, he reminds us of the importance of dialogue, noting that Jesus began to preach in the ‘Galilee of the Gentiles,’ a crossroads for people of different races, cultures and religions, and he calls us ‘to experience the humility of research, that attitude of silent welcoming of the unknown, of the stranger, of the other and demonstrate one’s openness and willingness to walk with all those who are driven by a restless tension toward the truth, believers and nonbelievers, foreigners and the marginalized.’ (Message of Pope Francis to the Italian Catholic Federation of University Students, Oct. 14, 2014.)
“In our contentious and polarizing times — even, sadly, to homicidal extremes — it is challenging to be both a beacon and a crossroads. But it is a calling full of hope. May this conference be an occasion for the renewal of our institutions and of each of us individually in our mission. Indeed, may it ignite in us a renewing passion.”