On the occasion of the new mission of Olivier Bonnewijn elected new president of the Institut Universitaire Pierre Goursat (IUPG) on April 20, Laurent Landete presented to us what the IUPG is and the stakes of the university work for the Emmanuel Community.
Why was the IUPG founded? What was the context of the departure? What was the initial intuition?
The IUPG was born of a double intuition: the importance of the evangelization of intelligence and the need to create Catholic academic places in a world where faith is increasingly relegated to the private sphere. Historically, academic institutions were born of the work of the Catholic Church. It is interesting to note that “university” and “Catholic” both have the meaning of “universal” It is therefore not by chance that the Church founded the first universities. One could say that this is part of his DNA, which was strongly highlighted in the encyclical of St John Paul II Fides and ratio.
What has been the work of the IUPG so far?
This work has developed in different directions.
First, the IUPG is engaged in the study of different subjects thanks to its scientific council. The latter is composed of about fifteen university members of Emmanuel, coming not only from the world of philosophy and theology, but also from the human sciences and exact sciences.
Then, the IUPG became involved in various “field” actions. Thus, with other departments of the Emmanuel Community, it has set up university residences for students (for example in Rennes, La Roche-sur-Yon in France or Louvain-la-Neuve in Belgium). These houses are inspired by medieval colleges where students and teachers lived and worked together. It is a question for us of accompanying intellectual formation and also of proposing in parallel a formation in the intelligence of the faith.
Each year, the IUPG also organized a university meeting specifically for doctoral students and young doctors. This year, this meeting took place in Bordeaux on the theme of anthropology in the digital age.
The IUPG has also been the linchpin of various conferences, on gender theory for example, or on the ecclesiology of communion.
What are the challenges of university work for the Emmanuel Community?
The stakes are mainly missionary. First, I wish to emphasize that providentially, there are a large number of academics from different disciplines in the Emmanuel Community. I think it is no coincidence that a community with a missionary vocation brings together many intellectuals, for today, one of the great challenges we must face is that of the evangelization of intelligence. In the past, there was a kind of covenant between the intelligence of faith and understanding of the world. Since the Enlightenment, there has been an opposition or at least a separation between intelligence and faith. I believe that university Christians have a role to play in what I would call a reconciliation of intelligence and faith. They do not oppose each other, they complement each other, one calls the other. This work is essential for the evangelization of our contemporaries. This is why the Emmanuel Community has invested in the university world and wants to invest even more in the future.
What do you expect from the IUPG in the coming years?
As you know, I am completing my third term as moderator general. It will be my successor who will take over this work that I myself inherited from my predecessor, Dominique Vermersch. My hope is that the IUPG will continue in the direction I have indicated and, perhaps, that new achievements will emerge as summer schools or a year of preparation for graduate studies.
What links do you see with the other services of the Emmanuel Community? Notably with the training department?
The IUPG is a resource which the various services of the Community can call upon. Thus, for example, the colloquium on the ecclesiology of communion was organized by the IUPG on the basis of a request from the Community Council. The work on Gender interested Love and Truth and Fidesco.
How is the Emmanuel Community called to serve and invest itself in the academic world? Has the Community ever thought of founding an Emmanuel University?
It is difficult for me to answer the question of how. I am personally convinced that Emmanuel must invest more in the university world because it is a major missionary challenge of our time. We have some leads that the new head of the IUPG will have to investigate further to verify their validity. I would just like to make one point that I think is important: history shows us that only communities that have been involved in the academic world have been able to last. This is no accident. And perhaps it is a call from the Lord to us.