ROME — The Catholic Church has a responsibility to address the pastoral needs of a world that is in a deep crisis that is disrupting humanity’s desire for peace, Pope Francis said.
In a message to participants at a conference sponsored by the Pontifical Gregorian University’s Institute of Psychology, the pope said the world “is going through a profound anthropological crisis, a crisis of meaning.”
“Once again, before our eyes is the immense tragedy of war, which is the worst consequence of human destructiveness — both individual and systemic — that is not taken seriously enough and is not duly attended to and eradicated at its root,” he wrote in the letter released by the Vatican May 19.
The theme of the conference, which coincided with the institute’s 50th anniversary, is “‘Adam, where you?’ The anthropological question today.”
In his message, the pope congratulated the institute on its anniversary, noting that its founding was inspired by the Second Vatican Council’s call for the use of not only theological principles, but also of “secular sciences, especially of psychology and sociology, so that the faithful may be brought to a more adequate and mature life of faith.”
“In the past half-century, you have taken up this challenge, boldly pursuing the interdisciplinary approach in the pastoral care of the faithful, both in the field of research and numerous publications and in pastoral and formative practice,” he said.
Reflecting on the conference’s theme, which refers to God’s words as he searched for Adam in the Garden of Eden, Pope Francis said it resonates in the world today and “invites us to a serious examination of conscience and conversion.”
With more and more people suffering in the world, the pope said the church needs professionals who are educated in psychology, theology and philosophy “to lift up those who are wounded or offended in their dignity.”
“Your mission is at the service of the promotion of the human person and the ongoing process of evangelization, which is accomplished by translating into the concrete human existence the supreme gift of redemption accomplished by our Lord, Jesus Christ,” the pope said.
Pope Francis encouraged the conference participants to renew their “commitment to research” and to “teaching and caring for people.”
“In this way, you are at the service of the church going out toward the existential peripheries of men and women of today, in the diversity of their cultures but united by the need for support and impetus to face the hardships and challenges of life,” the pope said.