Represented by the Vice Chancellor of Extension and Communication, Pilar Barba, the University of Chile is the only national campus that is part of this event, which includes a meeting with Pope Francis at the Vatican. For example, the authority of the church addresses issues such as waste culture and climate change, and the role of higher education institutions in these challenges.
Migration, climate change and exclusion. This is part of the main theme of the event held by hundreds of people representatives of Latin American schools with Pope Francis, appointment that took place on September 21. All this, as part of a meeting called by Network of Universities for the Care of the Common Home and the Pontifical Commission for Latin America, titled “Organizing Hope.”
On that occasion, the ecclesiastical authority urged them to be creative in shaping the youth based on current realities and challenges. The rectors asked the Pope about issues of the environment, biodiversity, and climate change, to which he responded by pointing to the regrettable “throwaway culture.” Or a throw-and-go culture,” explaining that it is “a culture of abusing natural things, of not accompanying nature to the development of abundance and not allowing it to survive. This throwaway culture hurts us all.”
“There is a throwaway culture that disappears all the time, there is a lack of education in the use of the remaining things, remaking them, replacing them in the order of common use of things. And this throwaway culture also affects the environment,” added the ecclesiastical authority.
The University of Chile is part of this event, represented by the vice-rector of Extension and Communication, Pilar Barba which highlights the opportunity for meetings between institutions from different countries, and the thematic approach of the meeting with the Holy Pope.
Before this meeting, the representatives of the universities met in working groups according to the specificity of each of their houses of study in relation to the urgent needs of their territories. These are the four groups within the framework of the Augustinianum Patristic Institute. The results of these previous works were presented to the Pope at the closing meeting and fed into the next dialogue with him.
“The meeting brought together 216 representatives, mostly rectors of public and private, confessional and secular universities from Latin America and the Caribbean. The call had two stages, the first was the discussion of the 4 thematic commissions and the second day was the meeting with the Holy Pope, which lasted more than 2 hours. There the main conclusions were presented and Pope Francis was asked. It is my responsibility to represent group 2 in economy, technology and technocracy. This work will feed the next encyclical “Laudate Deum”, which updates and deepens the exhortation to ‘care for the common home,'” explained the vice-rector.
Role of universities in the appropriate use of the environment
“Pope Francis encouraged universities to create networks to raise awareness, highlighting the title of the event, Network of Universities for the Care of the Common Home, to organize hope.” For this reason, he explained the idea of an “integral ecology, in this dimension that today’s youth have the right to a balanced cosmos, and they have the right to hope and we must help them to -organize in that hope, to make very serious decisions from this place”.
He also explained a “culture of change,” and recognized it as a result “of an economic crisis where it is not always a service to the development of the most needy. I would say sometimes, or in many cases time, many times, it does not serve the development of all and creates the most needy people. It is a culture of expropriation, we all have the right to use nature”, for the benefit of all.
Pope Francis expressed his concern about “some universities that are an abstract type of scientist. That they do not use reality but science, an abstract science, not real, and then, they walk in economic theories , social theories, all are theories, but they never land” in the realities of the most needy.
“Take care of that and those who are thrown away, the outcasts, men and women, entire people that we leave on the road like garbage, right? We must know this, that we use the wealth of nature only for small groups through socioeconomic theories that do not integrate nature, the rejected.”
He also lamented the current state of the immigration crisis. “I ask you that, as an honor to the suffering people, your universities respond to this problem, but to the number of people in it,” the Holy Pope asked the rectors. “As a summary I tell you this, the migrant must be received, accompanied, promoted and integrated. If we are not able to integrate the migrant we will fail,” he added.
Finally, the Pope reminded them that the role of universities is not only to learn things. “You must train men and women in the three languages of man, that of the head, the heart and the hands. In a way they learn to think what they feel and what they do, to feel what they do and what they think, and to do what they feel and what they think.”
216 rectors of public and private universities from all over Latin America and the Caribbean participated in the meeting with the Pope. The event was the result of a proposal presented by the RUC (Network of Universities for the Care of the Common Home) to the Pontifical Commission for Latin America. The Ruc was born seven years ago as an organized community of universities to implement the challenge of the Encyclical Laudato Si’. Rectors attended the meeting representing religious and non-denominational educational institutions, which host more than 4 million students, not counting teachers, researchers and administrative staff.