Notre Dame's Watershed Moment
school's debate about "academic freedom," which encompasses the history of performances of the Vagina Monologues, programs supporting a homosexual lifestyle, and faculty members speaking out against Church teaching.
It states that for students to thrive at this school, they need a good Catholic formation, and the "exercise of caution in their course selections and social life."
As a student, Daly acknowledged that the university lacks resources for "students to actually learn about their Catholic faith." The senior said: "We need to know what the teachings are, how the doctrine was arrived at, and how sometimes standing up for truth requires us to be somewhat counter-cultural.I think students at Notre Dame are interested in their religion and are looking for truth."
What we need from the university, she said, on top of all the beautiful buildings and shrines, is the truth.Daly reported that every student is required to take two theology classes and two philosophy courses, but most do not receive "very high quality" courses in these subject areas.She explained that often the introductory course instructors will "give their interpretation" on matters of faith.
Although we "cannot inhibit freedom of speech," she said, "it can be very misleading and disadvantageous to those students" who are not already educated in Catholic theology and philosophy to be presented with personal opinions of instructors.
The Newman guide reports that Catholic professors number around 53% of the total faculty, but noted that Father Jenkins launched an initiative to strengthen the hiring of Catholic faculty.As well, due to his actions, this year marked the first time in eight years that the Vagina Monologues student production was canceled. Steps such as these are inspiring hope for Notre Dame's future as a Catholic university.
Carozza expressed this hope, noting that "one can see here all sorts of signs that Christ is present in the life of the university as a university." He noted that this is "evident in relationships among faculty and students, in classrooms, and in research programs." Carozza acknowledged some "extremely weighty and difficult challenges" in reaching this ideal, including the "dualism between faith and reason that pervades universities and modern life generally."
The professor also noted the difficulty in "understanding and accepting that communion with the Church is not a limitation or restriction on the nature of the university but the opposite -- it is a condition of freedom and a safeguard of reason." He concluded that these "weaknesses begin in our own hearts, in our personal incapacity, and that is the first place where they need to be met."
Franciscan Father John Coughlin, Notre Dame law professor, echoed this hopeful vision, stating to ZENIT that "prayer is the key to the challenges ahead at our beloved Notre Dame."
There is no "magic plan or program," he said, but the hope for the university lies in "humble prayer to the Sacred Heart and pro-life action based on the reality of people struggling to be saints."
"Hope is a theological virtue," the priest said, that "stems from humble prayer" and "must also be based in reality."
"The fact that there are so many excellent Catholic professors and students" is "the reality upon which I base my hope for a lively Catholic faith at the university," he affirmed.Father Coughlin added, "We can be the yeast in the dough that becomes the Bread of Life."
Daly, who helped organize a 3,000-strong rally on graduation day to support Notre Dame's pro-life, Catholic identity, affirmed that "there is great support for Notre Dame to do something profound, sincere and real to commit itself to the pro-life cause, and by default to fidelity to the Church."
"Notre Dame needs to celebrate its Catholic identity," she stated. "In an age when diversity is so highly valued, Notre Dame should flaunt its uniqueness as a Catholic institution and refuse to fall in step with other 'prestigious' universities."
The senior asserted, "What makes Notre Dame special is its commitment to the 'pursuit and sharing of the truth for the sake of itself.'It "needs to return to the basics of what it means to be Catholic, and what it means to be a Catholic university," Daly said.
She added some suggestions for enhancing the school's Catholic identity: "increase the presence of Catholic faculty on campus, make a public statement that confirms they will never participate in embryonic stem cell research, appoint a pro-life ombudsperson, [and] host leaders from the Church at the university so that they can teach young Catholics how they should act in a modern society."
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