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Pope Francis: ‘Knowledge must be inclusive’

Meeting with students at a number of Vatican institutions, Pope Francis warns against the “toxic, unhealthy and violent” information that can lurk in social media.

By Lisa Zengarini

Pope Francis received in audience on Monday some 200 students and teachers of the Vatican School of Paleography, Diplomatic and Archival Studies and of the Vatican School of Library Science as they celebrate their 140th and 90th anniversary of foundation, respectively.

Welcoming them in the Clementine Hall, the Pope expressed his gratitude to the two reputed higher education institutions, and underscored the importance of their work of forming people who “do accurate research in all circumstances to reach the truth”. “Yours is truly a service to solidity of the teachings you have received, a much-need solidity in times when news is sometimes spread without checks and research,” he said.

Protecting  from the toxic  information in social media

While acknowledging their important achievements, Pope Francis, on the other hand, warned against self-complacency, stressing the need for them  to respond to the crucial cultural challenges of our globalized world, including the “the risk of the levelling and devaluation of knowledge”; the complex relationship with technologies; and preserving cultural traditions “that must be cultivated and proposed without mutual impositions.”

He again highlighted the need “to include and never exclude “anyone from knowledge and, at the same time, to protect from the “toxic, unhealthy and violent” information  that can lurk in the world of social media and technological knowledge.

This context, he remarked, requires “openness to discussion and dialogue, the willingness to welcome, especially those of marginality and material, cultural and spiritual poverty.”

“May studies truly measure up to the fragility and richness of today’s men! And this does not only apply to you students, but also to the teachers who guide you.”

Caring for the past and looking to the future

The two prestigious Vatican schools, must therefore continue “to learn and share ideas and experiences, to grow in openness and avoid ‘self-referentiality’”. While looking with gratitude to their glorious past, they must “look forward, to the future,” and have the courage “to rethink themselves in the face of requests coming from the cultural and professional world.”

The dangers of ideology

Recalling that since their outset they have had an “eminently practical and concrete approach” to research, Pope Francis hence concluded by encouraging the two higher education institutions to continue on this path of “concreteness and openness” so as to transmit to present and future generations the centuries-old heritage that the Archive and the Library have.

“From their origins, these Schools have a decisive characteristic: that of having an eminently practical approach and a concrete approach to problems and studies, according to a line that I have indicated several times, because the comparison with the reality of things is worth more of ideology.”

A conference with Cardinal Parolin to mark the two anniversaries 

The Vatican Schools of Paleography, Diplomatic and Archival Studies and  of Library Science were founded respectively in 1884 and 1934 at the behest of Pope Leo XXIII and Pius XI  and are embedded within the Vatican Apostolic Archives and the Vatican Library. To mark the anniversary the Pontifical Urban University in Rome is to host a conference on Monday afternoon which will retrace the history and discuss the future prospects of these two important higher education institutions. Among the key speakers Key speakers will will be Cardinal Secretary of State Pietro Parolin and and Mgr. Angelo Vincenzo Zani, Archivist and Librarian of the Holy Roman Church who has organized the event.

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