UA&P Honorary Grand Chancellor and Prelate of Opus Dei Bishop Javier Echevarría has emphasized in a pastoral letter that universities are “in the vanguard of the new evangelization.”
The “new evangelization,” according to Pope Benedict XVI, is the re-proposing of the Gospel “to those regions awaiting the first evangelization and to those regions where the roots of Christianity are deep but…have experienced a serious crisis of faith due to secularization.”
Bishop Echevarría’s September 29 letter was published for the Year of Faith, which celebrates the 50th anniversary of the opening of Vatican Council II and the 20th anniversary of the publication of the Catechism of the Catholic Church.
‘Light of the world’
The bishop writes that “those who work in universities need to recall some words of our Lord, addressed to everyone, and see them as especially directed to themselves: vos estis lux mundi (Mt 5:14), you need to be the light of the world.”
He quotes Opus Dei founder St. Josemaría Escrivá, saying that “the university has, as its highest mission, service to mankind, being a leaven for society.”
He adds: “Let us never lose sight of the important challenge of encouraging many people and institutions throughout the world—impelled by the example of the first Christians—to help bring about a new culture, new laws, new fashions, consistent with the dignity of the human person and our destiny, which is the glory of the children of God in Christ Jesus.”
Bishop Echevarría says that “while we all need to pray and do everything we can, with full generosity, to accomplish this, university lecturers and researchers have a responsibility to make a real and persevering effort to use every opportunity that their profession affords them.”
Reason and faith
The prelate also highlights the compatibility of faith and reason and the need to spread this truth.
Borrowing St. Josemaría’s words, he says: “Based firmly on solid scientific knowledge, we have to show people that faith and reason are not in any way opposed.”
“On the contrary,” he said, “there should be a complete harmony between them, since both spheres of knowledge stem from God, from the Logos who created the world, and who has taken on human nature.”
Two sections of Bishop Echevarría’s letter are specifically about the academic profession: “Research and Teaching” (nos. 17-18) and “Harmony between Faith and Reason” (no. 19).
The letter may be read/downloaded here.
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