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Unprecedented: Pope Francis creates a public university at Vatican to respond to global crisis of meaning

(ZENIT News / Vatican City, 09.26.2023).- Pope Francis has instituted the University of Meaning as a “civil university educational  entity based in the Vatican City State,”through the issuance of a chirograph on August  15th. The university is autonomous and will be managed by the International Educational Movement Scholas Occurrentes.

In the statement, the Holy Father affirms that “Scholas, as a community that educates, as an intuition that grows, opens the doors of the University of Meaning. Because to educate is to seek the meaning of things. It is to teach how to look for the meaning of things” and that it will be open to “students of all situations, languages and beliefs, because no one is left out when what is taught is not just a thing, but Life”.

Amidst the global pandemic crisis, Pope Francis stated in a virtual message, ” in this new crisis that humanity is facing today, where culture has been shown to have lost its vitality, I want to celebrate the fact that Scholas, as a community that educates, as an intuition that grows, opens the doors of the University of Meaning. Because to educate is to seek the meaning of things.”

In the creation of the manifesto for the University of Meaning, collaboration was sought from Professor Mpho Tshivhase of the University of Pretoria, Professor Stefania Travagnin of the University of London, Professor Souleymane Bachir Diagne of Columbia University, Professor Diane Moore of Harvard, among others. They all concurred on the importance of establishing a global university entity that responds to the need to reimagine education, placing the individual in their uniqueness at the center and the community as an expression of diversity. It is envisioned as a welcoming and creative place where all are invited to feel welcome and participate. An atypical university that, as Plato said, “has no place because it is everywhere.” A tiny seed that can grow into a mighty tree, with its roots in the teachings of Pope Francis and the experience of Scholas; a local and global, intercultural, interreligious, and intergenerational university.

Learning is nourished by all languages of scientific and humanistic knowledge, art, technology, and life experiences. This university feeds the soul and knows how to distinguish between what is merely useful and what is essential, helping us not to lose  sight of the latter because “man does not live by bread alone.”


Since 2013, Scholas, as an international educational movement created by Pope Francis, has been conducting educational experiences with young people from various faiths and cultures on all five continents in response to the profound thirst for meaning so prevalent in these times.

Since 2015, Scholas initiated collaborative work with public and private universities to introduce the concept of Scholas Chairs within them, working together not only in extension but also in teaching and research areas.

Since 2017, universities that are part of the Scholas Chairs network have been sharing their results and achievements annually through a global congress, reinforcing this methodology and uniting research with fieldwork.

Since 2020, amidst the pandemic, Pope Francis has celebrated and encouraged Scholas to promote this Meaning initiative at the university level.

Since 2021, Scholas has convened Professor Mpho Tshivhase from the University of Pretoria, Professor Stefania Travagnin from the University of London, Professor Souleymane Bachir Diagne from Columbia University, and Professor Diane Moore from Harvard, among others, to collaboratively draft the manifesto for the University of Meaning.

During 2022, Scholas has been conducting meaning-centered experiences with university professors and students in Latin America and Europe, which have received various academic recognitions and are now part of the curriculum of various degree programs and institutions.

As of August 15, 2023, the University of Meaning has been instituted by the Holy Father as a civil legal entity with its headquarters in the Vatican City State.