Saturday, December 15, 2007

Pope Urges Students to Engage Culture

Pope Benedict XVI walks past an image of the Virgin Mary and baby Jesus at the end of a mass celebrated with the students of Roman Catholic Universities in St. Peter's Basilica, at the Vatican, Thursday, Dec. 13, 2007

Vatican, Dec. 14, 2007 ( - Pope Benedict XVI (bio - news) has urged university students to uphold the faith in a European culture whose thoughts have been "disengaged from God."

The Holy Father spoke to Rome's university students on Thursday evening in the Vatican basilica, after a Mass celebrated by Cardinal Camillo Ruini. He encouraged them to approach the future with confidence, recognizing that the faith is always alive. As evidence of the attractive power of Catholic truth, he pointed out that 150 students from Rome's universities have accepted the faith this year, and are planning to be confirmed at Pentecost 2008.

Tracing some of the thoughts that he presented in his encyclical Spe Salvi, the Pope said that Europe today is influenced by ideological trends formed in the 17th century, "according to which human progress is the work of science and technology, while faith concerns only the salvation of the soul." These trends, he said, led to a belief that economic and political measures can be enough to bring about "a just society in which peace, freedom and equality reign."

In practice, the Pope continued, those ideological trends have had a damaging impact, because the human soul is not shaped simply by economic and political factors, and "technological progress does not correspond to the moral development of mankind." Early in the 21st century, he argued, society has recognized that ideologies can be destructive, and the blind pursuit of technological conquest can be dangerous to society. Thus the time is ripe for a new assertion of Christian claims, he told his young audience.


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