(Vatican Radio) One of the organizations represented at this week’s conference at the Pontifical Gregorian University on the role and the responsibility of universities and educators in offering help – and hope – to the growing numbers of migrants and refugees was The University of the People .
And together with other conference participants, Shai Reshef , President of The University of the People, was also at the audience with Pope Francis on Saturday morning in the Vatican.
During that audience the Pope praised the commitment and the work of those present at “ Refugees and Migrants in a Globalized World: Responsibility and Responses of Universities ” conference and spoke of the need for “distance courses for those living in camps and reception centres” which happens to be one of the main missions of the The University of the People as Shai Reshef explained:
“The University of the People is the first non-profit, tuition-free, accredited, online University for students who graduate from high school, are qualified for higher education but cannot attend higher education, either because they don’t have the money, either because they live in places where there aren’t enough universities, or they are deprived for political or cultural reasons such as refugees, women in some cultures… to all these people, we bring – through the internet – tuition-free university to enable them to get higher education, a better future for themselves, for their families, for their societies and hopefully for the world as a whole” he said.
Shai Reshef says that currently The University of the People counts over 10,000 students from countries from across the globe – many of them from Syria.
He describes the just ended conference in Rome as focusing on a very important aspect of the migration and refugee topic and said that bringing together different universities that deal with the issue of providing education to displaced people is the first of its kind giving life to an extremely relevant conversation.
“We were very fortunate to be encouraged by the Pope who met with us” he said.
“The people who came to the conference, Reshef pointed out, are the ones who believe in this goal of building a better future for all by providing access to education”.
Look at the Syrian refugees for example: “there are 200,000 Syrians who are left out of higher education” because of reasons caused by the conflict in their nation.
“If each university in the world would take ten Syrians – that’s not a lot. We can accommodate all of them!” he said.
Reshef said that at The University of the People “we are already doing it. We have taken over 1000 refugees and over 600 Syrian refugees. But each university could afford to take ten refugees and that’s basically what the Pope said: think about these people and see how you can address this issue”.
He said he is in total agreement with the Pope’s belief that this is a global co-responsibility and described Pope Francis as “a champion of resolving the issue and understanding that it is not ‘their’ problem: it’s ‘our’ problem”.
He pointed out that from a pragmatic point of view you can look at the issue not just as a human rights cause, but understanding that “if it is not resolved these people will continue to be miserable and being miserable means not only that they will not be productive members of society and are going to suffer, but the consequences of this we all are going to bear” he said.
“If these people have hope probably they will behave differently” he said.
He said that if you take people who strive for opportunity and you give them opportunity, they will go a long way and hopefully be builders of a better world.
Reshef said the conference contained promise for the future and it reinforced his belief that ‘on-line’ tuition is assuming a more and more important role in the discussion of the solution.
On-line is what can be relevant and offer a solution to every person he pointed out.
Concluding, Reshef specified that while the University of The People is tuition-free it is not free as fees are requested for exams unless the student cannot afford to pay; in that case (as often is the case for refugees and migrants) scholarships are offered.
Finally he said: “For me to shake the Pope’s hand and receive – as the University of the People – his blessing, was a very exciting moment and I am very happy to have it”.
For more information on The University of the People: www.uopeople.edu
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Martyred Indian Sister Rani Maria , who was slain by an assassin 22 years ago in central India, was proclaimed a Blessed at a beatification ceremony during Holy Mass in Indore, in central India’s Madhya Pradesh state on Saturday, November 4th.
Cardinal Angelo Amato , Prefect of the Vatican Congregation for the Causes of Saints, presided over the Beatification Mass. During his homily he described Sister Rani Maria as one who lived and died preaching the gospel of charity and defending the poor…
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday greeted members of the Sixt Family encouraging them to pursue their work which is aimed at helping children in various situations of need.
Headed by Regine Sixt, the main purpose of the Regine Sixt Children’s Aid Foundation is the worldwide improvement of humane living conditions for children through program areas that include health, care, education and emergency aid.
Please find below the Pope’s address below:
Dear Members of the Sixt Family,
I offer a warm welcome to you, the representatives of the Sixt company from throughout the world. I thank Mrs Regina Sixt for her introduction, which spoke of your shared commitment to works of charity, carried out through the Drying Little Tears Foundation and aimed above all at helping children in various situations of need.
These efforts allow you the opportunity to make your professional activity a noble vocation, by recognizing a greater meaning in life. Beyond personal and financial success, you are striving to serve the common good by working to increase the goods of this world and to make them more available to all (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 203).
You have assembled here in Rome to meet the Successor of Peter, who has a special place in his heart for the least and the most vulnerable of our brothers and sisters. Such are our children. Drying their tears through concrete projects of assistance is a way of combatting the culture of waste and helping to build a more humane society.
I encourage you to pursue your work in the conviction that God’s tender love can be seen in a particular way on the faces of innocent children in need of care and support. May the Lord reward you with his many gifts.
I ask your prayers for my mission in the service of the Church, and to you, your dear grandchildren and all your families, I cordially impart my Apostolic Blessing.
(from Vatican Radio)…
(Vatican Radio) Pope Francis on Saturday addressed members of the International Federation of Catholic Universities at the conclusion of their conference entitled, “Refugees and Migrants in a Globalized World: Responsibilities and Responses of Universities”.
Listen to our report:
Addressing the International Conference participants on Saturday in the Vatican the Pope, congratulating them on their work, also pointed out the importance of their contribution in three areas: research, teaching and social promotion in order, he said, to bring about “the construction of a more just and humane world.”
Reflecting on the theme of their conference “Refugees and Migrants in a Globalized World: Responsibilities and Responses of Universities”, the Holy Father spoke about the need “to do further studies into the root causes of forced migration with the aim of identifying viable solutions…” He also added, that it was equally important to reflect on the negative, sometimes discriminatory, and xenophobic reactions that migrants face in countries of ancient Christian traditions and look also to creating more awareness of this issue.
Promoting education initiatives for refugees
Pope Francis underlined the contributions that migrants and refugees can make to the societies that welcome them and expressed the hope that Catholic universities would develop programmes that “promote refugee education at various levels, both through the provision of distance courses for those living in camps and reception centres, and through the granting of scholarships that allow for their relocation.”
During his address, the Pope invited Catholic universities to educate their students, some of whom, he said, would be political leaders of the future, entrepreneurs and artists of culture, to study carefully the migratory phenomenon, in a justice, and global co-responsibility perspective.
With regard to the complex world of migration, said Pope Francis, the Migration and Refugee Section of the Dicastery for Integrated Human Development has suggested “20 Action Points” as a contribution to the process that will lead to the adoption by the international community of two Global Pacts , one on migrants and one on refugees in the second half of 2018.
In this and in other areas, he concluded, universities can play their part as privileged actors including the social field, “such as in incentives for student volunteering in programs of assistance to refugees, asylum seekers and newly arrived migrants.”
(from Vatican Radio)…
Port au Prince – – 180 Catholic lay faithful from all the dioceses of Haiti took part in the National Congress of Laity held in Port au Prince from 31 October to 3 November. The meeting, promoted by the Church of Haiti in collaboration with the Social School of CELAM, tried to outline the mission of lay baptized in the Church and in society, called to animate temporal realities in the light of the Church’s social doctrine. The Congress’s work highlighted the urgency of deepening the knowledge of the Church’s social doctrine among the laity. The Congress was presided by Francisco Niño, Colombian Priest and vice secretary of CELAM’s General Secretariat. Haiti, the poorest Country in America, is trying to regain social stability. The Church supports the Haitian people and its admirable and moving desire to start again. …CONTINUE READING