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Pontiff Sends Message to Far East"s Oldest University

Pontifical University of Santo Tomas Marks 400 Years

VATICAN CITY, JAN. 30, 2011 (Zenit.org).- Faith and reason are always part of a truly integrated education, Benedict XVI is affirming in a message for the oldest university in the Far East.

The Pope made this observation in a video message recorded for the occasion of the 400th anniversary of the foundation of the Pontifical University of Santo Tomas in Manila, Philippines.

The anniversary celebration took place last Friday, the feast of St. Thomas, in the presence of the Pope’s special envoy, Cardinal Zenon Grocholewski.

In his message, the Pontiff observed that the fourth centenary of the foundation is “a significant event in the life of the Church.”

“Although I am not able to be with you physically," he said, "I am delighted to be able to speak to you personally in this way, to join with you spiritually and offer to all my best wishes on this happy occasion."

The Pope expressed his gratitude for “the many priests, religious and laypeople at Santo Tomas who transmitted the faith, knowledge and wisdom found in the religious and secular sciences to generations of Filipinos.”

He highlighted the figure of the founder of the university, Bishop Miguel de Benavides and “the great commitment of the Dominicans who have guided this institution through the many challenges of the past four centuries.”

Noting that Santo Tomas is “the oldest institution of Catholic higher education in the Far East and that it continues to play a very important role in the Church of the region,” the Bishop of Rome said that he was confident that “keeping before the mind faith and reason, which are always part of a truly integrated education” the university “will continue to contribute to intellectual, spiritual and cultural enrichment, not only of the Philippines.”

“I pray that you will always continue to seek a knowledge of human and divine things in the light of that ultimate clarity that is in the person of Jesus Christ,” he said, invoking the benediction of the institution’s patron, St. Thomas Aquinas, on the university and everyone connected to it.

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