On Tuesday, 24 October 2023, the Inauguration of the academic year 2023-2024 of the Accademia Alfonsiana in Rome took place.
The first moment of the solemn academic act was the votive Mass to the Holy Spirit at the Shrine of Our Mother of Perpetual Help. The Superior General of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer and Moderator General of the Alphonsian Academy, Father Rogério Gomes CSSR, presided over the Mass that was concelebrated by more than a hundred priests, including professors, students and guests.
“We begin the academic year of the Pontifical Alphonsian Academy. We do so by invoking the Holy Spirit, the great pedagogue and mystagogue, to help us understand science and the divine mystery,” Father Rogério said in his homily.
“While we are here, 29 war conflicts are raging around the world, a planet crying out for help because of destruction, and a synod seeking to place the Church more and more within the world so that it can be an eloquent voice of the Gospel. And it is in this context, dear brothers and sisters, we are called to do moral theology,” the Superior General continued.
“What does it mean to do moral theology when the humanist concepts of human relationships, mutual respect for others and love of neighbour no longer seem to make sense, and there is a tendency to assume a culture of intolerance, violence and imposition of market values on people, especially the poor, in which some have the right to exist, and others do not?” asked Father Rogério.
“May St Alphonsus help us to dare to be a light and to propose moral theological reflections that can be liberating and form consciences capable of bringing about changes in the different sectors of our society: political, economic, cultural and technological,” he concluded.
After the Mass, the academic community moved to the big auditory (Aula Magna), where the Moderator General himself, Fr. Rogério Gomes, gave the opening talk entitled: “The love of God, source of the existential journey”.
He offered a very relevant reflection in pointing out to those present that ‘If we are children of divine love as humanity, we still have to take great steps to radiate this love. When we see the cruelty of war, human folly, the destruction of human fraternity, the concept of love seems to take a back seat. And we can question it and ask whether it really exists or not.”
Fr Gomes’ talk contained three parts: highlighting some characteristics of divine love, love as an existential path and love as human action. This teaching on love shows us the way forward, but it is not enough to overcome the ‘Cain syndrome’. As humanity, we are experiencing an exciting time from the point of view of technology. We are moving forward, but as humanity in its capacity to humanise… we seem to be taking steps backwards. War is one of these realities to prove it.
At the end of the speech, Prof. Antonio Donato CSSR, acting preside, reported on the academic year 2022-2023, where he recalled some particularly significant events. First, he highlighted the news of 16 January 2023, when the Holy Father recognised the Alphonsian Academy as the pontifical institute. Then he presented the new professors and thanked the new emeriti for their service. Finally, he thanked the collaborators and encouraged everyone to move forward with the processes of human and academic maturity as the fruit of a positive reaction to the pandemic.
The new Rector Magnificus of the Pontifical Lateran University, Monsignor Alfonso Amarante, CSSR, was the last to speak, highlighting the transition and change the Alphonsian Academy is experiencing. He said that these changes do not affect the vitality of this Institution, “the only Institute, as he authoritatively states, to deal with moral issues” unicum worldwide. All this is thanks to the financial and personal support of the Congregation of the Most Holy Redeemer.
Archbishop Amarante recalled that “the sensitivity of the Alphonsiana is a pastoral one; it is a sensitivity that starts from fidelity to the Redemptorist Alphonsian charism, to the Second Vatican Council, here, in the Academy, moral issues have always been studied in listening to the cry of the least and guided by the light of the mystery of Christ”.
Watch the streaming video of the Inauguration on the Alphonsian Academy YouTube channel.