UNIV 2015: Friendship and Citizenship

Some 2,500 students from every corner of the world spent Holy Week and Easter in Rome attending “UNIV Forum 2015 – Friendship: Model of a New Citizenship.” On Wednesday, April 1, the university students took part in the general audience with Pope Francis. The Holy Father greeted the students and encouraged them, with words of St. Josemaría, “to grow in friendship with our Lord, because ‘You need a heart which is in love, not an easy life, to achieve happiness’ (Furrow, no. 795).” At the end of the audience, the Forum gave the Pope a painting of the Holy Family’s flight into Egypt, as a sign of unity with the Christians who are suffering persecution in various parts of the world. During the days of the gathering funds were collected for persecuted Christians in the Middle East, intended for the refugees in Lebanon.

The president of UNIV 2015, the Chilean student Florence Cordero, stressed that the 48th edition of the Forum asked participants to “reflect on friendship as the key to building a new society, at a time when superficiality makes us settle for weak bonds and relationships that undermine the quality of true companionship.”

The Forum organized many cultural events—conferences, colloquia, study groups, and round tables—especially in the area of the humanities and the arts. The Italian writer Alessandro D’Avenia, professors David O’Connor and Craig Iffland, and Kenyan Professor Elizabeth Gachenga were among the speakers at the conferences.

The UNIV Forum began 48 years ago, in 1968, under the encouragement of St. Josemaría Escrivá. The meeting is an opportunity to get to know the city of Rome by following in the footsteps of the Church’s history from the earliest centuries. The Prelature of Opus Dei organizes activities of Christian formation that accompany the cultural activities for this international event.

Romana, No. 60, January-June 2015, p. 117.