Pope Francis celebrates 625 years of theology at Krakow's JPII University

Pope Francis in 2016, the year of his latest Poland visit Photo: L'Osservatore Romano.

 KRAKOW – Pope Francis celebrated the 625th anniversary of the Faculty of Theology of the John Paul II Pontifical University in Krakow. In his speech he addressed a message to Archbishop Marek Jędraszewski, Grand Chancellor of the institution.

 Francis recalled the beginnings of the faculty. “On January 11, 1397, upon the request of Queen Saint Hedwig and her husband Ladislaus, Pope Boniface IX erected the Faculty of Theology of what was then the Krakow Academy with the Bull Eximiae devotionis affectus."

 In the message addressed to Grand Chancellor of University, the pontiff referred to the establishment of the prestigious faculty, which was intended to become a part of the Jagiellonian University. He called the founding of the faculty “the beginning of the history of your relatively young Athenaeum.” 

 The pope talked about the spiritual connection with his Polish brother and thanked God for over six centuries of scientific achievements realised by members of the university. In mentioning the current challenges, he encouraged lectures and students to continue tradition, but also at the same time to “look with hope to the future and create the future.”

 He referred to the motto of the University "Go and make disciples" (Mt 28:19), and in accordance with the document on its mission he emphasised that the main goal of the faculty’s activity “consists in scientific reflection on the content of Revelation, using classical and contemporary research methods. He added that Saint John Paul II underlined the need for this kind of ministry of thought, that would involve university communities in spreading the message of Christ.

 Francis hopes that the faculty can foster a new generation of Christians in society, “not only through scientific study and the search for truth, but also through the social witness of living the faith.”

 “May it be a community in which the acquisition of knowledge is combined with the promotion of respect for every man, for the love of God who created him, and with care for the formation of hearts, opening them to what is most important, what is enduring and does not pass away,” said the pope.

 He highlighted that the faculty should help students to realise their own dreams. Nowadays the Polish Church is keen for ministry of thought and truth-seeking in the Catholic University. Francis encouraged representatives of the institution to do the ministry “with a sense of responsibility in order to be faithful to your mission - go and make disciples!”

 To conclude the message, the pontiff promised prayers to entrust members of the Catholic University. He also asked for the intercession of Queen Saint Hedwig, founder of the Faculty of Theology, and of Saint John Paul II.