Two professors from the University of St. Thomas in Houston were surprised to meet the Holy Father last month when Pope Francis made an impromptu visit to the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas conference in Rome, the University reported.
Dr. John Hittinger and Dr. Ted Rebard, both UST professors of philosophy, were in Rome from June 21-23 for this year's installment of the Academy's conference, titled "Believing, Loving and Living Truth." The professors were two out of only 40 Church experts invited from around the world to attend the conference. Other attendees included Cardinals Carlo Caffarra, Georges Cottier, Camillo Runi, and Archbishop Gerhard Muller, Prefect of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith.
UST reported that Bishop Marcelo Sanchez Sorondo, the Secretary Prelate of the Pontifical Academy, "said the conference aims to join Emeritus Pope Benedict's inspired decision to rediscover the content of the faith that is professed, celebrated, lived and prayed."
The University gave more information about the Holy Father's surprise visit to the conference:
The two-and-a-half day conference ended with an impromptu visit by his holiness Pope Francis.
“I met the Pope,” Hittinger said. “He is a kind man and very determined to reform the Vatican.”
Rebard, who has also been privileged enough to meet Pope Francis’ three predecessors, commented on the uniqueness of the Holy Father and his support of the mission of the Pontifical Academy.
“Francis struck me as plainly honest, simple and yet very deep,” Rebard said. “I believe he has a real and living confidence and trust in the members of the Academy.” ...
“It was a great privilege to hear and meet the speakers,” Rebard said. “I might never again in this life encounter such a collection of great thinkers.”
The University of St. Thomas is recommended in The Newman Guide for its strong Catholic identity.
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