ROME, JAN. 10, 2006 (Zenit.org).- The first new Catholic
university established in Italy since World War II -- and
only the third in the country -- has been officially
Cardinal Camillo Ruini, the Pope´s vicar for Rome, inaugurated the
European University of Rome today.
The university, which shares a
campus with the Regina Apostolorum university, is administered by
the Legionaries of Christ. The new institution has civil
recognition and began courses in October with three schools: in
law, historical sciences and psychology.
The institution is part of an
international network of 15 universities and centers of higher
studies run by the Legionaries in Italy, Spain, the United States, Mexico and
Legionary Father Paolo Scarafoni, the president of the new university,
explained the need for such an institution, which aims to
advance contemporary science and culture, in fidelity to the Church´s
Q: What is the purpose of the university, especially as
it is a civil institution?
Father Scarafoni: We already have an
ecclesiastical university in Rome, Regina Apostolorum, which offers degrees in
philosophy, theology and bioethics, mostly for priests, seminarians, and religious,
but also open to laypersons.
The urgent call to address the
problems and questions of modern men and women in a
wider variety of fields made the creation of a civil
university an important priority. It offers society a Catholic voice
to intervene in critical areas of academic life.
Q: Could this
civil university be considered an offshoot of the athenaeum?
Yes, in a sense. A Catholic institution such as Regina
Apostolorum naturally seeks to broaden its outreach to help shape
culture and to offer well-formed Catholic leaders to civil society.
the institutions there is a synergy. We are always going
to live in close proximity, in the same headquarters. Of
course, both will have distinct areas, but this does not
prevent their having courses in which the two universities can
Q: Does Italy really need an institution such as the
European University of Rome?
Father Scarafoni: In Italy, as in all
the countries of Europe, there is a very great need
to intervene, as Catholics, in the field of culture and
formation. Because, even though there are good institutions, the Catholic
presence is surprisingly limited.
Q: How would you describe this necessary
Father Scarafoni: On two levels. Within the universities, there
should be Catholics who operate in them. And also institutes
that, being Catholic, are available so that those who so
wish may be formed in a clearly Catholic environment.
up our identity, we have decided to take the first
step to make this presence public. This is not only
desirable -- if only there were 20 more!
Q: Is it
an attempt to open the athenaeum up to society?
Yes, it would be an error to think of the
athenaeum as a closed institution. But it must be clearly
identified so that it and the new university have their
The layperson will be able to share fully in
everything that comes from a Catholic institution. In this connection,
the collaboration of the two institutions might be very advantageous.
Will it fulfill all the specifications of the universities of
the Legionaries of Christ?
Father Scarafoni: At present, the 15 universities
of the Legionaries of Christ are forming a network to
help and support one another in several fields: exchange of
students, of professors, of programs. They also pursue a common
ideal of formation: to be focused on the student.
is the leader of tomorrow. He must be a man
who seeks the Kingdom of God, and who is very
well rounded. We do not want to graduate people who
are concerned only with the material world, who only seek
gain. They must seek the good of others.
Q: What will
be the social dimension of the education a student receives
at the European University of Rome?
Father Scarafoni: Each student will
have to engage in social service in which he applies
what he learns. That is the condition to live life
as a vocation and a mission.
Volunteer work, social action is
very important for us. There is also spiritual assistance, including
the personal attention of a tutor who will guide the
student in his studies and volunteer work. The student will
also be helped to find a job when he graduates.
Will this model be reproduced in other European capitals?
We leave that to God´s providence. However, Europe needs to
find its human and Christian roots. The failure of the
European Constitution, by popular vote, is demonstrating that a Europe
that does not take its Christian roots into account, is
not right. People do not tolerate their ground being suddenly
taken away from them.