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Notre Dame President Marks Papal Canonizations with Promotion of Nuclear Disarmament

Pope Francis and Catholics around the world are celebrating the extraordinary influence of Pope St. John Paul II and his impact on the family, Catholic education, communism, and other prominent issues.  However, the president of the University of Notre Dame has taken the occasion of Sunday's papal canonizations to highlight a less common theme: nuclear disarmament.

Notre Dame President Fr. John Jenkins, C.S.C., according to the University’s website, recently said that the canonization of the two pontiffs was “fortuitous timing” as he hoped they would hear the prayers of those pleading for nuclear disarmament and intercede on their behalf. He added that he hoped it would also reinvigorate the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops’ engagement on the issue.

“Their canonizations could not come at a more propitious time. The rich teachings of the Vatican Council, convened by the former, stirred the evangelization of the latter. In Pacem in Terris, Pope John XXIII said plainly that ‘nuclear weapons must be banned,’ and Pope John Paul II inspired the collapse of tyranny without a shot being fired. Nuclear weapons still threaten annihilation, and tyrannical regimes still threaten neighbors. In their mutual witness to the Risen Lord in a fallen world, Popes John XXIII and John Paul II have become true prophets of our time, and we gratefully invoke them as such.”

Fr. Jenkins called for a “fresh examination of the ethics of nuclear weapons in today’s world” at the Colloquium on Revitalizing Catholic Engagement on Nuclear Disarmament, according to Notre Dame.

The Notre Dame president reportedly said he believed Catholic universities could play “a special role” in working towards nuclear disarmament. “The University of Notre Dame will be a committed partner in this effort with the bishops’ conference, Boston College, Georgetown, the Nuclear Threat Initiative and distinguished statesmen, such as Secretary Schultz and Secretary Perry,” he said.

Fr. Jenkins did not raise the issue Pope St. John Paul’s strong commitment to life, his “Theology of the Body,” or his condemnation of liberation theology in the University report.

At the canonization Mass, Pope Francis particularly lauded John Paul II as “Pope of the Family,” according to Vatican Information Service.

During his homily, the Holy Father said:

In his own service to the People of God, John Paul II was the pope of the family. He himself once said that he wanted to be remembered as the pope of the family. I am particularly happy to point this out as we are in the process of journeying with families towards the Synod on the family. It is surely a journey which, from his place in heaven, he guides and sustains.

Cardinal Raymond Burke, prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura, recently commented on the legacy of Pope St. John Paul II.  He told the National Catholic Register, that Pope John Paul’s most important work may have been his “Theology of the Body” and his work towards a culture of life.

Additionally, several Catholic colleges and universities have been celebrating Pope St. John Paul II’s lasting legacy and impact on faithful Catholic education.

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