Following are excerpts from Pope John Paul II's address yesterday at Catholic University to presidents of Catholic colleges and universities:
A Catholic university or college must make a specific contribution to the church and to society through high quality scientific research, in-depth study of problems, and a just sense of history, together with the concern to show the full meaning of the human person regenerated in Christ, thus favoring the complete development of the person.
Furthermore, the Catholic university or college must train young men and women of outstanding knowledge who, having made a personal synthesis between faith and culture, will be both capable and willing to assume tasks in the service of the community and of society in general, and to bear witness to their faith before the world.
And finally, to be what it ought to be, a Catholic college or university must set up, among its faculty and students, a real community which bears witness to a living and operative Christianity, a community where sincere commitment to scientific research and study goes together with a deep commitment to authentic Christian life . . . .
As one who for long years has been a university professor, who tried to be, I will never tire of insisting on the eminent role of the university, which is to instruct but also to be a place of scientific research . . . .
No university can deserve the rightful esteem of the world of learning unless it applies the highest standards of scientific research, constantly updating its methods and working instruments, and unless it excells in seriousness, and therefore, in freedom of investigation.
Truth and science are not gratuitous conquests, but the result of a surrender to objectivity and of the exploration of all aspects of nature and man.
Because he is bound by the total truth on man, the Christian will, in his research and in his teaching, reject any partial vision of human reality, but he will let himself be enlightened by his faith in the creation of God and the redemption of Christ . . . .
The goals of Catholic higher education go beyond education for production, professional competence, technological and scientific competence; they aim at the ultimate destiny of the human persons, at the full justice and holiness born of truth.
. . . I want to say a special word of gratitude, encouragement and guidance for the theologians.
The church needs her theologians, particularly in this time and age so profoundly marked by deep changes in all areas of life and society.
The bishops of the church, to whom the Lord has entrusted the keeping of the unity of the faith and the preaching of the message -- individual bishops for their dioceses, and bishops collegially, with the successor of Peter for the universal church -- we all need your work, your dedication and the fruits of your reflection . . . .
But true theological scholarship, and by the same token theological teaching, cannot exist and cannot be fruitful without seeking its inspiration and its source in the word of God as contained in sacred scripture and in the sacred tradition of the church, as interpreted by the authentic magisterium throughout history.
True academic freedom must be seen in relation to the finality of the academic enterprise, which looks to the total truth of the human person. The theologian's contribution will be enriching for the church only if it takes into account the proper function of the bishops and the rights of the faithful . . . .
It is the right of the faithful not to be troubled by theories and hypotheses that they are not expert in judging, or that are easily simplified or manipulated by public opinion for ends that are alien to the truth . . . .