Church in Europe: Apostolic Work of University Students


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VATICAN CITY, 11 JUL 2009 (VIS) - This morning in the Vatican Benedict XVI received 1,100 participants in the first European meeting of university students promoted by the Catechesis-School-University Commission of the Council of European Episcopal Conferences (CCEE). The theme of the meeting was: "New disciples of Emmaus. In university as Christians".

Having observed that the students' visit to the Vatican is taking place on the Feast of St. Benedict, the Pope remarked that the aim of their meeting was "to show the episcopal conferences of Europe your willingness to continue along the path of cultural development, which St. Benedict knew to be vital for the human and Christian maturity of the people of Europe. This will come about if you, like the disciples of Emmaus, meet the risen Lord in an authentic ecclesial experience, and especially in the celebration of the Eucharist".

"Your missionary efforts in the university environment consist, then, in bearing witness to your own personal encounter with Jesus Christ, the Truth Who illuminates the path of all mankind. ... Only in this way can we become the ferment and leaven of a society enlivened by evangelical love".

"University pastoral activity must", the Pope went on, "be expressed in all its theological and spiritual implications, helping the young to ensure that communion with Christ leads them to perceive the more profound mystery of man and of history".

The Holy Father continued: "The Christian presence in universities is becoming ever more demanding, yet at the same time fascinating, because faith is called, as it was in centuries past, to offer its indispensable service to knowledge, which is the true motor of development in modern society. From knowledge, enriched with the contribution of faith, depends the capacity of a people to look to the future with hope, overcoming the temptation of a purely materialist vision of life and of history".

"You are the future of Europe", the Pope told the young people. "The new amalgamated culture which is currently being forged in Europe and in the globalised world needs the contribution of intellectuals capable of bringing discussion of God back into the classroom; or rather, of reviving mankind's desire to seek God, 'quaerere Deum'. ... The Church in Europe places great trust in the generous apostolic commitment of all of you, aware of the challenges and difficulties but also of the great potential of pastoral work in the university environment".