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Sunday, March 3, 2024
The Observer

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Pope Francis meets with University leadership at the Vatican

Jenkins and Dowd were pictured talking with Francis

University President Fr. John Jenkins and the Board of Trustees met with Pope Francis at the Vatican on Thursday.

The pope referenced Notre Dame’s founder, Fr. Edward Sorin, while giving the University’s current leaders his blessing to continue to enhance the University’s Catholic identity.

“It is likewise my hope that your contributions to the life of this institution will continue to enhance its legacy of a solid Catholic education and enable the University to be, as your founder Father Edward Sorin desired, ‘a powerful means for good’ in society,” the Pope said, according to a University press release.

Francis emphasized that the basis of Christian education is educating the head, heart and hands.

By educating the head, or mind, Catholic universities should tap into the “intrinsic harmony” of faith and reason, the pontiff told the audience, which included President-elect Fr. Robert Dowd.

“Indeed, these educational endeavors undertaken by Catholic institutions are grounded in the firm conviction of the intrinsic harmony of faith and reason, from which flows the relevance of the Christian message for all areas of personal and social life,” Francis said.

He added that religion plays an essential role in educating young people’s hearts.

“It also means promoting dialogue and a culture of encounter, so that all can learn to acknowledge, appreciate and love each person as a brother or sister, and most fundamentally, as a beloved child of God,” Francis said.

The pope also said he was pleased with the University’s atmosphere.

“Consequently, I am pleased that the University of Notre Dame is marked by an atmosphere that enables students, faculty and staff to grow spiritually and bear witness to the joy of the Gospel, its power to renew society and its capacity to provide the strength to face wisely the challenges of the present time,” he said.

Finally, Francis encouraged leadership to continue to place an emphasis on educating “the hands.”

“We cannot stay within the walls or boundaries of our institutions, but must strive to go out to the peripheries and meet and serve Christ in our neighbor,” he said. “In this regard, I encourage the University’s continuing efforts to foster in its students zeal for meeting the needs of underprivileged communities.”