11/26/2019, 11.14
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Pope in Japan: University is also a place to learn to discern

Francis last meeting at Jesuits’ Sophia University before leaving Japan to return to Rome. Although in Japan "Christians are a minority, their presence is felt". "Despite the efficiency and order that characterize Japanese society, it is perceived that something more is desired and sought: a deep desire to create an increasingly human, compassionate and merciful society."

Tokyo (AsiaNews) - In a "competitive and technologically oriented" society like Japan, study centers must maintain their autonomy and the Jesuit Sophia University "should be a center not only of intellectual formation, but also a place where a better society and a more hope-filled future can take shape".

The visit to the university founded by the Society of Jesus in 1913 at the invitation of Pope Pius X was Pope Francis' last appointment of his visit to Japan, from where he left at 11.43 local time (2.43 GMT). His arrival is scheduled at Rome-Fiumicino Airport for 17.05.

Francis' day began with a mass celebrated in private with the members of the Society of Jesus in the Chapel of the Kulturzentrum. He then visited the elderly and sick priests and at 10.00 local time (1.00 GMT), went to Sophia University.

In his speech to over 700 students and teachers, Francis first of all stated that " Despite the fact that Christians are a minority, their presence is felt. I myself have witnessed the general esteem in which the Catholic Church is held, and I hope that this mutual respect may increase in the future.”

"I have also observed - he added - I would also observe that, for all the efficiency and order that mark Japanese society, I have sensed a yearning, too, for something greater: a profound desire to create an ever more humane, more compassionate, more merciful society. ”

"In the spirit of the encyclical Laudato si’, - he said - I would add that love for nature, so typical of Asian cultures, should here find expression in a sapient and foresighted concern for the protection of the earth, our common home."

"The Ignatian tradition, on which Sophia is based, ought to inspire professors and students alike to create an atmosphere that fosters reflection and discernment. No student of your university should graduate without having learned how to choose, responsibly and freely, what he or she knows in conscience is best. In every situation, even the most complex, may they be concerned that their conduct is just and humane, conscientious and responsible, and show themselves resolute defenders of the vulnerable. May they be known for the integrity so greatly needed in these times when words and actions are often either misleading or deceitful”.

The University, then, "must always be open to creating an archipelago capable of relating what socially and culturally can be hould always be open to creating an “archipelago” capable of connecting realities that might be considered culturally and socially separate. The marginalized would be creatively incorporated into the life and curriculum of the university, in an effort to bring about an educational approach aimed at reducing distances and disconnects. Quality university education should not be the privilege of a few, but constantly informed by the effort to serve justice and the common good. A service to be carried out by each one in the sector in which he or she is called to work. This is a concern that regards everyone. Peter’s advice to Paul remains true today: that we not forget the poor (cf. Gal 2:10)".

After leaving the university, the Pope went to the Tokyo-Haneda airport where the farewell ceremony took place.

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