CARF Foundation

29 April, 24

Luis Navarro, PUSC Rector: "The university is characterized by being open to the world".

Don Luis Felipe Navarro Marfá, from San Sebastián (Spain), has been rector since 2016 of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross (PUSC) in Rome.

He is also a professor and was the Dean of the Faculty of Canon Law of the PUSC. Our dear don Luis responds to an interview for the CARF Foundation.

Training in Rome at PUSC

Why for a priest and a seminarian is it good to form in Rome and in the PUSC? Because Rome is the cradle of Christianity! In fact, a few years ago Pope Benedict, addressing the students from Roman universitiesHe told them that "the possibility of studying in Rome, seat of the Successor of Peter and therefore of the Petrine ministry, helps you to strengthen your sense of belonging to the Church and your commitment to fidelity to the universal magisterium of the Pope".

Formation and Communion at the same time? It is true. The sense of union with the whole Church is strengthened in the eternal city. To walk the streets where so many holy women and men have walked is impressive and a spur for each one of us.

In addition, there is another factor: in Rome you touch the universality of the Church. You see, talk and live with Catholics from all over the world: people of very different cultures, traditions and races, but at the same time very close because they believe in, proclaim and love Jesus Christ. When you discover this, a great horizon opens up in your inner life: I am a member of the great family of God.

Seven pontifical universities 

And that is why in Rome there are several pontifical universities.... Yes, and the most important ones, because they have the longest tradition, are based in Rome: there are currently seven of them.

But what exactly is a pontifical university?

The Pontifical Universities are academic institutions recognized as such by the Holy See, dedicated to teaching and research in the sacred sciences. All of them have the traditional studies: Theology, Philosophy and Canon Law.

And does the title "pontifical" have a particular meaning? Of course! In fact, it entails a special responsibility of union and fidelity to the Holy Father.

D. Luis Navarro presides the mass for coronavirus victims. scaled 1

At the Basilica of Sant'Apollinare of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, the rector of the university,  rev. Luis Navarro, presided over a mass of suffrage for prof. Michelangelo Tábetthree months after his death and for all the relatives of the teachers, technical-administrative personnel and students of the PUSC, who died victims of the coronavirus.

"PUSC is not just a university for priests".

So it does not only mean that it is a university for priests.... Well, no. Of course, in their origin there are the colleges in which were formed mainly seminarians, priests from European countries and religious of various orders and congregations. But over the centuries, the student population has opened up to the presence of lay faithful. All of God's people are represented in our universities.

PUSC, open to the world

And within this complex reality of the Pontifical Universities, what is the peculiar characteristic of the PUSC, by its acronym? Santa Croce is characterized on the one hand by being open to the world, in dialogue with secular culture. Both in teaching and in research there is an attentive look at the problems of the world, being all of us aware that from the sacred sciences we can contribute to the search for truth. Topics such as anthropology, social doctrine and the defense of life are the object of our study. In addition, the great majority of our professors have obtained civil academic degrees in the different fields of knowledge, which facilitates this dialogue.

Very interesting! Especially because sometimes many people think that the Church is a reality far away from the world.... No, not at all: in the formation of our students, we want them to be in a position to help the men and women of their country to encounter God precisely in temporal realities. The majority of the faithful are citizens who need to receive a formation that will enable them to be saints in their daily lives.

"Santa Croce is characterized by being open to the world, in dialogue with secular culture." Prof. Luis Navarro Marfá.

Luis Navarro, Rector of the University of the Holy Cross in Rome, at a seminar.

D. Luis Navarro presides over a seminar at the PUSC during the Roman Benefactors Meetinga pilgrimage to Rome, organized every year by the CARF Foundation. Throughout his career, first as a teacher and then as rector of the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross, Luis Navarro, has been able to see how the seminarians and young priests who were trained in this center have evolved, their priorities, needs and also the challenges that lie ahead.

Nearly 14,000 students from more than 1,200 dioceses

Something, it seems to me, that is in the DNA of the university of which you are chancellor, right? That's right! Pontifical University of Santa Croce was born in 1984 from the desire of Blessed Alvaro del Portillo and the support of St. John Paul II. In this way, an idea of St. Josemaría Escrivá, the desire that our students should be people who know how to serve everyone, seeing Christ in each person, became a reality.

A very young university, then... Yes, I remember that I came to teach in September 1986, that is, two years after its foundation. It was a very small reality, only 300 students.... However, since then, about 14,000 students, coming from more than 1,200 dioceses and 200 religious congregations have passed through our classrooms and corridors. Now there are 1,500 students and four Faculties: Theology, Philosophy, Canon Law and Institutional Social Communication, the most recent and the one that has a unique conformation among all the other Pontifical Universities.

Always remaining faithful to St. Josemaría's desire to contribute to the new evangelization through formation. Of course! That's also why, in addition to the main faculties, there is also the Higher Institute of Religious Sciences and several research centers. It is a challenge, difficult in our times, but in which we put all our efforts, since, with the training that we transmit, we wish to contribute to the new evangelizationto ensure that society receives the message of Christ.

Gerardo Ferrara
BA in History and Political Science, specializing in the Middle East.
Head of the student body at the Pontifical University of the Holy Cross in Rome.


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