Saint Martin’s president to meet with the Pope during U.S. visit

Douglas M. Astolfi part of delegation summoned by Pope Benedict XVI

April 16, 2008

Lacey, Washington — Douglas M. Astolfi, Ph.D., president of Saint Martin’s University, will join the leaders from more than 200 U.S. Catholic colleges and universities for an invitation-only address by His Holiness Pope Benedict XVI. Astolfi, who earlier this week attended a forum with His Holiness The Dalai Lama, is now in Washington D.C. for the historic meeting with the Pope. The papal address will take place Thursday, April 17, at The Catholic University of America.

As a member of the board of directors of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities (ACCU), Astolfi will attend a private meeting between Pope Benedict XVI and the executive committee of ACCU. The group will then adjourn to the broader gathering, where the Pope will deliver a much-anticipated message on Catholic education.

Pope Benedict XVI’s address will be the first major papal statement regarding Catholic higher education since 1990, when Pope John Paul II issued “Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” which shifted attention to the mandatum requirement. “At that time, it was made clear that we, as Catholic institutions, have a special obligation to our students and to the Church to provide an education that, at its core, reflects a commitment to Catholic values and moral teachings,” remarked Astolfi. “It will be fascinating to hear the Pope’s message on higher education, as he himself was a university professor for many years.”

The Pope is currently in the United States for a six-day visit. Before his arrival, His Holiness summoned the presidents of all U.S. Catholic colleges and universities for the meeting, prompting much speculation about the nature of his address.

The Right Reverend Neal Roth, O.S.B., abbot of Saint Martin’s Abbey and chancellor of Saint Martin’s University, believes that Pope Benedict XVI will offer words of hope to the education leaders. “I expect that the Pope will encourage the presidents in their efforts to support the whole apostolate of Catholic education,” said Abbot Neal.

Saint Martin’s University is an independent four-year, Catholic, coeducational university located on a 320-acre wooded campus in Lacey, Washington. Established in 1895 by the Catholic Order of Saint Benedict, the University is one of 18 Benedictine colleges and universities in the United States and Canada, and the only one west of the Rocky Mountains. Saint Martin’s University prepares students for successful lives through its 21 majors and six graduate programs spanning the liberal arts, business, education and engineering. Saint Martin’s welcomes 1,250 students from many ethnic and religious backgrounds to its main campus, and 650 more to its five extension campuses located at Fort Lewis Army Post, McChord Air Force Base, Olympic College, Centralia College and Tacoma Community College.

For additional information:

Jennifer G. Fellinger
Director of Communications
Saint Martin’s University