Catholic identity requires "that each and every aspect of your learning communities reverberates within the ecclesial life of faith."
Pope Benedict XVI urged U.S. Catholic educators April 17 not to simply transmit knowledge to their students but to bring them to a deeper understanding of faith "which in turn nurtures the soul of a nation."
WASHINGTON (CNS)- Pope Benedict XVI urged U.S. Catholic educators April 17 not to simply transmit knowledge to their students but to bring them to a deeper understanding of faith "which in turn nurtures the soul of a nation."
"A particular responsibility ... for each of you, and your colleagues, is to evoke among the young the desire for the act of faith, encouraging them to commit themselves to the ecclesial life that follows from this belief," he told more than 400 Catholic college presidents and diocesan education representatives at The Catholic University of America.
The pope was cheered by several hundred students who gathered on the lawn of the campus, and he was warmly applauded when he entered the Edward J. Pryzbyla University Center. He delivered his address while seated on a wooden throne designed by Catholic University students.
Weeks prior to the address many had speculated that the pope might have harsh words of reprimand for college leaders, but instead the pope spoke warmly to the group, calling them "bearers of wisdom" and telling them of his "profound gratitude" for their "selfless contributions" and dedication.
He made one specific reference to Catholic college presidents, near the end of his address, telling them he wished to "reaffirm the great value of academic freedom." He also noted that any appeals to academic freedom "to justify positions that contradict the faith and teaching of the church would obstruct or even betray the university's identity and mission."
The pontiff also made an appeal to priests, brothers and religious sisters to "not abandon the school apostolate."
"Renew your commitment to schools, especially those in poorer areas," he said. His comment drew strong applause from the educators.
"I know from my own days as a professor, and I have heard from your bishops and officials of the Congregation for Catholic Education, that the reputation of Catholic institutes of learning in this country is largely due to yourselves and your predecessors," he said.
That is not to say the pope didn't challenge the group representing kindergarten through college graduate students. Several times during the hourlong address he urged them to live up to their responsibility of imparting truth to their students to enable them to live out their faith in the modern world.
"Not just our own ecclesial communities but society in general has high expectations for Catholic educators," he said, adding that this gives them "a responsibility and offers an opportunity."
He noted that the role of educators is particularly crucial in the modern world where many often question the church's role in the public forum. A primary role of the church, he said, is "upholding the essential moral categories of right and wrong" because without that direction, he said "hope could only wither, giving way to cold pragmatic calculations of utility which render the person little more than a pawn on some ideological chess board."
The church, and those entrusted with a teaching role, also need to speak on the role of truth, stressing that "truth and reason never contradict each other."
As may have been expected, the pope highlighted the importance of Catholic identity -- a key issue for Catholic colleges, schools and religious education programs -- by noting what it is not.
"Catholic identity is not simply a question of the number of Catholic students," he said. It also is not "dependent upon statistics" nor can it be "equated simply with orthodoxy of course content."
Instead, he stressed that the Catholic identity of a school or religious education program "demands and inspires much more: namely that each and every aspect of your learning communities reverberates within the ecclesial life of faith."
The pope linked the current "crisis of truth" to a "crisis of faith" and said educators must do more than simply "engage the intellect of our young" but should instead help today's youths to fully live their faith. "The difficulty or reluctance many people have today in entrusting themselves to God" is a "complex phenomenon," he said, adding that it is one which "I ponder continually."
He stressed that teachers and administrators in universities and schools have a "duty and privilege to ensure that students receive instruction in Catholic doctrine and practice." To not do this, he said, would weaken Catholic identity and cause "moral, intellectual or spiritual" confusion.
As the pope left the campus, students again gave him a rousing send-off, prompting the pontiff to roll down the window of his popemobile and wave as his motorcade moved on to the next event.
Copyright (c) 2007 Catholic News Service/U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops
By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
St. Mary's University in Twickenham, London has been formally approved to name one of their buildings after Benedict XVI. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - According to its website, St. Mary's University will name one of their buildings the Benedict XVI Centre for ... continue reading
By Thomas Heed (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
The University of Portland recently launched a "Speak Up" campaign designed to put an end to discrimination, intolerance and "incidents of discomfort." LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The University's Speak Up website specifies inclusion is a top priority - one ... continue reading
By Adelaide Mena and Matt Hadro, CNA News
Amid uproar over comparing struggling students to bunnies that should be drowned or shot, Mount St. Mary's University president is now under fire for criticizing expressions of the Catholic faith at the school. Emmitsburg, Md. (CNA) - Already facing turmoil, the ... continue reading
By Matt Hadro (CNA/EWTN News)
The future of religious freedom in the United States will one day be in the care of today's college students, so one Catholic college is working to equip them for that struggle. Washington D.C., (CNA/EWTN News) - Wyoming Catholic College is trying to form a "community ... continue reading
By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
The Catholic education system is coming under attack by a plethora of policies designed to make the hiring process, acceptance of anti-Christian viewpoints, transgender issues and Catholic identity concerns. LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - The Cardinal Newman ... continue reading
By Kenya Sinclair (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
A list of the top 40 traditional Catholic and Jesuit colleges in America was created, but were they rated fairly? LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) - Newsmax revealed their top forty Catholic and Jesuit colleges in America, but what were their standards?The United ... continue reading
By Jessie Tappel, Communications Director at Divine Mercy University
God, the source of all mercy, provides us with an experience so great that we have no choice but to reflect it to our own brother and sister. Mercy calls for an outward response, which is made clear in the examples of the Corporal and Spiritual Works of Mercy. You can ... continue reading
By Darnell Miller - University of St. Thomas
The University of St. Thomas, a member of the world-renowned Texas Medical Center, broke ground on a new Center for Science and Health Professions on Nov. 12, 2015. The new facility, containing more than 100,000 square-feet of modern lab space and classrooms, will meet ... continue reading
By Kyle Jorstad, Grove City College
Catholic Online welcomes scholarly submissions for consideration, contact firstname.lastname@example.org Abstract: Though members of the scientific and atheistic community alike often tout science as the downfall of religion, theories regarding Darwinian evolution ... continue reading
By David Drudge (CALIFORNIA NETWORK)
It should be no surprise that America's colleges and universities are overrun with anti-American liberals who lack all respect for the country and the principles upon which it is founded. In an age where political correctness has run amok, students are indoctrinated by ... continue reading