By Carol Glatz, Catholic News Service

VATICAN CITY (CNS) — Knowledge and “enlightenment” are needed especially where there is the “darkness of hatred,” which often stems from forgetting and indifference, Pope Francis said.

“Yes, it is often forgetfulness and indifference that make everything appear dark and obscure, while culture and education restore the memory of the past and shed light on the present,” he told a delegation from Sulkhan-Saba Orbeliani University in Tblisi, Georgia, during an audience at the Vatican Feb. 13.

The Catholic university was founded in 2001 by Bishop Giuseppe Pasotto, who was at the audience and is based in Tbilisi as apostolic administrator of the Caucasus region.

Pope Francis told the delegation that “Georgia’s history tells of so many transitions from darkness to light, because your country has always managed to get back up and shine, even when, several times throughout the centuries, it has suffered foreign invasions and domination.”

“I think of those lands that are still taken from you,” he said, referring to Russia’s invasion of the territories of South Ossetia and Abkhazia in Georgia in 2008. Still today, one-fifth of Georgian territory remains under Russian occupation.

“Your people, convivial and courageous, welcoming and in love with life, have been able to cultivate, even in the darkest times, a positive attitude precisely because of their faith and culture,” the pope said.

“In this, the role of the Catholic Church is valuable,” opening up fruitful cultural avenues that have benefited the country and its history, he said.

“There is a need for this beneficial enlightenment of knowing, while the darkness of hatred, which often comes from forgetfulness and indifference, intensifies in the world,” he said.