The Holy Father spoke to the faculty and some others from the Pontifical Gregorian University, which is located in Rome. “The Greg”, as the university is affectionately known by those of us who have studied there (I in 1977-78) is a grand university extending back centuries and from its alumni have come many popes and bishops.
The Greg is a Jesuit-run institution. Its professors come from all around the globe, as do the student body. In years past, all the classes were conducted in Latin. When I arrived on the scene in 1977, the classes were conducted in Italian and oral exams could be taken in English, Italian, German, Spanish, Portuguese, or French. I always felt for those professors, because they were required to understand all of those languages when spoken to them!
I would like to translate for my readers the Holy Father’s remarks. This is my translation, so it is unofficial. Italics and bold print are mine.
Dear Cardinals, venerable brothers in the Episcopacy and Priesthood, dearest brothers and sisters,
I welcome you all, professors, students and teaching personnel of the Pontifical Gregorian University, of the Pontifical BIblical Institute and of the Pontifical Oriental Institute. I greet Father Nicolas, the Father delegates and all the other Superiors, and indeed the Cardinals and bishops here present. Thank you!
The institutions to which you belong, united in 1928 by Pope Pius XI, are entrusted to the Society of Jesus and share the same desire to “fight for God under the banner of the Cross and to serve only the Lord and the Church his spouse, at the pleasure of the Roman Pontiff, the Vicar of Christ on earth” (Formula, 1). It is important that between them there develops a a collaboration and synergy, keeping custody of the memory of history and at the same time taking on present tasks and looking to the future, as the Father General was saying “to look from afar” toward the horizon, looking at the future with creativity and imagination, seeking to have a global vision of actual situations and challenges and in a shared way to confront them, finding new ways without fear.
The first aspect I would like to underscore, thinking of your task, whether as a teacher or as a student, or as personnel of these institutions, is that of appreciating the very place in which you find yourselves studying and working, that is, the city and above all the Church of Rome. Here there is a past and there is a present. Here there are the roots of faith; the memories of the Apostles and Martyrs; and here there is the ecclesial “today”, there is the actual journey of this Church which presides in charity, in the service of unity and universality. All this is not given to us to be discounted! It is to be appreciated and lived, a task that is in part institutional and in part personal, left to the initiative of each person.
But at the same time, you bring here the various Churches from which you come and your cultures. This is one of the inestimable riches of the Roman institutions. They offer a precious occasion to grow in faith and to open the mind and heart to the Catholic horizon. Within this horizon the dialectic between the “center” and the “periphery” assumes its proper form, i.e., the evangelical form, according to the logic of a God who reaches the center leaving the periphery so as to return to the periphery.
The other aspect that I want to share is that of the rapport between study and the spiritual life. Your intellectual tasks, in teaching and research, in study and in a fuller formation, will be that much more fertile and effective the more it is animated by the love for Christ and the Church, the more the solid and harmonious the relationship between study and prayer will be. This is not an ancient idea, it is at the center!
This is one of the challenges of our times: to transmit knowledge and offer it as the key to a vital comprehension, not a accumulation of notions that are not connected to each other. There is a need for a true evangelical hermeneutic so as to understand better life, the world, men in a spiritual atmosphere of research and certainty based on the truth of faith and reason. The philosopher and the theologian make possible the acquisition of convictions that structure and fortify intelligence and illuminate the will…. but all this is fertile only if one accomplishes it with an open mind and on the knees. The theologian who is satisfied with his own thought and conclusion is a mediocre theologian. The good theologian and philosopher have open thoughts although incomplete, always open to the good of God and the truth, always in development according to that law that St. Vincent of Lerins describes as “annis consolidetur, dilatetur tempore, sublimetur aetate” (Commonitorium primum, 23; PL 50, 668). It comes together as the years pass, expands with time, and deepens with age. This is the theologian who has an open mind. The theologian who does not pray and does not adore God ends up in a most disgusting narcissism. This a an ecclesial sickness. The narcissism of the theologians, of the thinkers does much harm and is disgusting.
The purpose of studying in each Pontifical University is ecclesial. Research and study are integrated with personal and communal life, with the missionary task, with fraternal charity and sharing with the poor, with the care of the interior life with the Lord. Your institutes are not machines to produce theologians and philosophers; the are communities in which one can grow, and growth comes in families. In the University family there is the charism of government, entrusted to the superiors, and there is the diaconate of non-teaching personnel that is indispensable in creating a comfortable environment for daily life and in creating an attitude of humanity and concrete wisdom that will make today’s students capable of building up humanity, transmitting the truth of the humanity and knowing that if the goodness and the beauty of belonging to a working family is lacking, then one ends up being an intellectual without talent, an ethicist without goodness, a caring thinker of splendor and beauty that is adorned with formalisms. The respectful and daily contact with the work and witness of the men and women that labor in your institutions will give you a measure of realism so necessary for our knowledge to be human knowledge, and not knowledge from a laboratory.
Dear brothers, I entrust to each of you, to your study and your work to the intercession of Mary, Seat of Wisdom, to St. Ignatius of Loyola and the other patron saints.I bless you from the heart and I pray for you. Please pray for me! Thank you! And now, before I give you the blessings, I invite you to pray to the Madonna, the Mother, so that she helps us and protects us. Ave Maria…..
So there it is…. narcissism in theology and philosophy. I know that to which he refers.