At Thomas More College, Not Obama But Arinze
Cardinal praised the College's dedication to the Catholic intellectual tradition and fidelity
Cardinal Arinze celebrating the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass. He was the commencement speaker and recipient of an Honorary Doctorate.
The Thomas More College of the Liberal Arts turned instead to a man who came from material poverty in a troubled British colony in Africa, a convert from traditional African paganism, who made his name as a pastor of the Christian people in his country, as a peacemaker in its civil war, and a sober guardian of the Church’s deposit of Faith.
On Sunday, May 10, 2009, Francis Cardinal Arinze addressed the graduating seniors of 2009, along with their family and friends and most of the students of the College, as part of Thomas More College’s commencement exercises.
Cardinal Arinze called Thomas More College “a young and dynamic Catholic liberal arts college…dedicated to forming students intellectually and spiritually within the Catholic intellectual tradition and with unapologetic fidelity to the Magisterium, or the Teaching Authority of the Church.”
In his address, Arinze said that a “serious and authentic Catholic college or university has to strive to provide its students rigorous education on relations between faith and reason, on specialization and orientation, and on science and ethics. Students need a realistic and dynamic philosophy of life that shows them how to make a synthesis between religion and daily life. There will thus result an acceptable, integral development of the human person. And the Catholic college or university will have succeeded in forming and turning out model Christians who are good citizens.”
The cardinal went on to detail how a college can work to form such Christians and citizens, in light of the fact that “both reason and faith come from God, the first in the natural order, and the second in the supernatural. God is truth. Truth does not contradict itself (Fides et Ratio, 43; Summa Contra Gentiles I, 7). It was Thomas Aquinas who said: ‘whatever its source, truth is of the Holy Spirit’ (I-II, 109, 1 ad 1). Faith needs reason in order to be articulated in a sound theological synthesis. Reason needs faith in order not to deprive people of the riches of God's revelation…. Sound philosophy and healthy theology go hand in hand.”
Further, Arinze insisted, “If a Catholic College or University adopts this attitude of ‘courageous creativity and rigorous fidelity,’ it will be able to contribute much to promote a healthy synthesis between faith and culture in society. We all recall the famous statement of Pope John Paul II: ‘The synthesis between culture and faith is a necessity not only for culture, but also of faith... A faith that does not become culture is a faith that is not fully received, not entirely thought through and not faithfully lived.’”
Speaking of the importance of integrated liberal arts education such as that offered at Thomas More College, Arinze said, “It would be risky to produce citizens who specialize in one little area of life but have no viable vision of the whole of life. While no one pretends to know something about everything, it would be even more dangerous to have to deal with a person who parades himself as knowing everything about a tiny aspect of life, and who is therefore lost in discussing or understanding anything except his own area of specialization."
Addressing the role of philosophical preparation for the advanced study of science and technology, Arinze warned “The scientist, therefore, should not regard whatever is physically possible as also morally lawful. Human action has to take into account the natural law, the eternal law of God written into human nature. Pope John Paul II, when he visited Mount Sinai in 2000, said that before God wrote and gave the Ten Commandments to Moses, he already wrote them into the human heart. That is why people of all religions and cultures, when they are not weighed down by ideology or human weakness, can recognize most of the dictates of the Ten Commandments.
A Catholic college or university educates students to appreciate that moral rules of right and wrong apply also to science, technology, politics, trade and commerce, and indeed to all human endeavors.”
Perhaps with an eye toward the appearance of morally objectionable figures at certain famously Catholic colleges, Arinze noted “The Christian must learn to make a synthesis between his duties as a citizen and his religious practices. There must be no divorce between these two dimensions of his life…. We can also in this light see the mistake of politicians who regard the Church as interfering in politics when the Pope or the Bishops speak on contraception, abortion, strange new definitions of family, the rights of workers, the education of children or what moral standards ...
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