Yesterday Pope Francis gave an address to representatives of schools and universities at the Pontifical Catholic University of Ecuador. Following is an excerpt which draws from his recent encyclical on the environment, Laudato Si’.
Faced with the globalization of a technocratic paradigm which tends to believe “that every increase in power means an increase of progress itself, an advance in security, usefulness, welfare and vigor; …an assimilation of new values into the stream of culture, as if reality, goodness and truth automatically flow from technological and economic power as such” (Laudato Si’, 105), it is urgent that we keep reflecting on and talking about our current situation. We need to ask ourselves about the kind of culture we want not only for ourselves, but for our children and our grandchildren. We have received this earth as an inheritance, as a gift, in trust. We would do well to ask ourselves: “What kind of world do we want to leave behind? What meaning or direction do we want to give to our lives? Why have we been put here? What is the purpose of our work and all our efforts?” (cf. Laudato Si’, 160).
The university, he writes, is a place that must seek an integrated vision of the world for the sake of the human family: “to start viewing reality in an organic and not fragmented way, to ask about where we stand in relation to others, inasmuch as ‘everything is interconnected’ (Laudato Si’, 138).”
This is a great challenge, especially in an age when universities have become, in the words of former University of California president Clark Kerr, “multiversities.” Seeking an integral vision of culture and of university studies will require faculty to balance their specialized studies with a commitment to shared conversation.