Studium Theologicum Salesianum
Salesian Pontifical University : Faculty of Theology - Jerusalem Campus

Dies Academicus 2013-2014
Salesian Pontifical University – Jerusalem Campus


Report by: Arcadius Puwein

The Dies Academicus 2013-1014 was celebrated at the Studium Theologicum Salesinum (STS), the Jerusalem Campus of the Salesian Pontifical University on 31 October 2013.  The celebration was embellished and cheered with the presence of His Eminence Peter Kodwo Appiah Cardinal Turkson, the president of the Pontifical Council for justice and peace, Vatican. The occasion was also graced by the presence of guests of honour His Excellency Most Rev. Giuseppe Lazzorotto, Apostolic Delegate in Jerusalem and Palestine; His Beatitude Faud Twal, Patriarch of Jerusalem for Latins; His Beatitude Michael Sabbah, Patriarch Emeritus of Jerusalem for Latins; Most Rev. Giacinto-Boulos Marcuzzo, Patriarchal Vicar for Israel; Rev. Pierbattista Pizzaballa, Custos of the Holy Land; Very Rev. Joseph Kelekian, Armenian Catholic Patriarchal Exarchiate of Jerusalem; Very Rev. David Neuhaus, Patriarchal Vicar for Hebrew Speaking Catholic Community;  Dr. Heidi Kuhn, Founder/CEO of Roots of Peace; and other well wishes of the STS.

Rev. Fr. Pier Giorgio Gianazza, Academic Council member of the STS and Vice Provincial of the Middle East Province of the Salesians of Don Bosco gave the words of welcome to all the guests. The Dies Academicus was then led into a very prayerful atmosphere with the choir presented by the students of STS under the leadership of Deacon Gabriel. After an enthralling performance from the choir, Rev. Fr. Biju Michael, the President of the Salesian Pontifical University’s Jerusalem Campus introduced Cardinal Turkson to the audience.

Cardinal Turkson then presented the encyclical letter of Pope John XXIII, Pacem in Terris and its application to education and formation today - 50 years from the publication of the encyclical. At the very outset, he reminded the audience, that this encyclical was envisaged since two thousand years, when the angels sang “peace on earth” at Christ’s birth. Following this Biblical foundation, he presented the historical background of the political atmosphere which led to the publication of Pacem in Terris. After the First World War, the League of Nations was established to maintain peace and security in the world using collective decisions. It failed, and the United Nations was found after the Second World War. The UN aimed to stop war and provide a platform for peaceful dialogue, human rights and other social related issues. But nations always found themselves at rivalry for national interests. Despite the UN, 1960’s faced political ideologies that divided the world into two blocs (USA and Russia). Each of the two powers looked for supremacy and extension of their influence to the emerging independent African and Asian nations. The erection of the Berlin Wall and the establishment of NATO were the concrete expression of the division of the world in two blocs. The Cuban Missile Crises was the crucial moment which brought the Cold War almost to the brink of full-fledged war. It was during these long fuelling conflicts that Pacem in Terris was formulated. It was the need of the hour. The encyclical in fact was signed on Television for the world to witness the importance of peace at that moment.

Pacem in Terris lucidly and categorically stated that there is no connection between war and justice. No justice or peace can be achieved by war. Pope John XXIII accentuated on the need to build inner peace so that outer peace may last. The subject and centre of human beings is relationship and dignity. They are the building blocks for peace and justice. Human dignity and relationship are God’s gift and the world cannot take away these. Human dignity and relationship is part and parcel of human essence. They constitute man as man. Therefore, justice, peace, love and freedom ought to be cultivated to safeguard human dignity and relationship. The Cardinal ends his presentation emphasizing that politics too needs to be educated. He said that a well educated Christian should manifest three intertwined dynamics- completeness, contextualization and collaboration. “A well-educated Catholic will be: enlightened by faith and inflamed by the desire for goodness; intellectually, culturally and scientifically competent, and spiritually integrated amongst the personal, professional, political and religious dimensions of life. The Cardinal then exhorted the STS as a religious educational institution located in the Holy City of Jerusalem to be engaged in its surrounding social and cultural reality.

Cardinal Turkson concluded stating, “Here at the Studium Theologicum Salesianum in Jerusalem, forming future pastors and ministers of peace, let us offer the prayer of Pope Francis and ask God to help us put it into practice: ‘May the noise of weapons cease! War always marks the failure of peace, it is always a defeat for humanity… Let us pray … for reconciliation and peace, let us work for reconciliation and peace, and let us all become, in every place, men and women of reconciliation and peace!’”

A short period of question-and-answer followed the lecture by Cardinal Turkson. Eventually, Rev. Fr. Ivo Coelho, Rector of the Salesian community delivered the vote of thanks to His Eminence Cardinal Turkson, and all the other invitees. The function was brought to a close with a choir performance lead by student Lam Giuseppe Dang. They beautifully rendered the Magnificat in Vietnamese. Rev. Fr. Biju Michael, the President of the STS once again thanked the guests and invited all to refreshments.

In the afternoon at 4p.m. the Episcopal Commission of the Holy Land for Justice and Peace met together at the STS with His Eminence Cardinal Turkson.
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