Cardinal Burke: Catholic Universities Must Be Catholic to be 'Worthy of the Name'
through Christ, and with Christ, who has been raised and continues His redemptive mission through His Body, the Church. It is that Church which is vested with His authority to teach. In the words of the great Western Bishop Augustine:
"Let us rejoice then and give thanks that we have become not only Christians, but Christ himself. Do you understand and grasp, brethren, God's grace toward us? Marvel and rejoice: we have become Christ. For if he is the head, we are the members; he and we together are the whole man. . . . The fullness of Christ then is the head and the members. But what does "head and members" mean? Christ and the Church."
Catholic Universities are an extension of the teaching work of the Catholic Church. This living Christ still teaches, and directs His Church. Through that Church he continues to influence all of human culture. The faithful of the Church are called to inculcate and live the truth as articulated under the inspiration of the Holy Spirit by the teaching office of the Church. At the forefront of the mission of the Catholic University is this education of the next generation of Catholic men and women. It is Christ the Teacher who teaches His Children in the Catholic University.
The Venerable John Paul II said to educators in 1979 "Catholic education is above all a question of communicating Christ, of helping to form Christ in the lives of others." In short, forming students with a Catholic world view is not a "part" of the curriculum; it is the heart of the curriculum. Faith is not simply taught in religion or theology class. Catholic identity provides the hermeneutic, the lens, through which the entire educational mission is viewed. It should also structure the framework for all curriculum development.
The Catholic educational mission is to inform and educate the whole student, who is an integrated human person, in the teaching, "the mind" of the Catholic Church, thus preparing men and women with a profoundly Catholic anthropology which permeates the meaning of human life. In the words of the Congregation for Catholic education:
"The Catholic school is committed thus to the development of the whole man, since in Christ, the Perfect Man, all human values find their fulfillment and unity. Herein lies the specifically Catholic character of the school. Its duty to cultivate human values in their own legitimate right in accordance with its particular mission to serve all men has its origin in the figure of Christ. He is the One Who ennobles man, gives meaning to human life, and is the Model which the Catholic school offers to its pupils."
Catholic education exists to put students in touch with the source of all Truth and Beauty, who is the Living Trinitarian God, revealed in Jesus Christ. For example, instruction in the sciences, though certainly pursuing and utilizing all available methods for scientific inquiry, should present that science is to be at the service of truth, the dignity of the human person from conception until natural death, marriage and the family and the common good. Math should be presented as a language with which we are enabled to plumb the depth and beauty of God's creation.
Building Catholic Universities for the Third Christian Millennium requires a clear vision, mission and leadership. The President of a Catholic University must be able to articulate this mission and vision in a way that inspires the entire academic community to join together in a singular educational missionary purpose. Students at Catholic Universities deserve a fully Catholic Education.
We need a new generation of Catholics who understand the implications of their faith on the entirety of their lives and are motivated by their faith to take their place within every segment of society in order to build a better future. These kinds of men and women do not appear on the scene through happenstance; they must be properly educated and then enlisted in the mission of the Church.
This is the mission of the Catholic University. I am currently working on a PhD dissertation in Moral Theology for the Catholic university of America, a wonderful school which has taken Catholic identity to heart. I hope to someday help a Catholic College or University respond to the challenge proclaimed by Cardinal Burke on my birthday in my hometown; to be fully, unapologetically and happily Catholic. To me, there is no more important work.
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Pope Benedict XVI's Prayer Intentions for January 2013
General Intention: The Faith of Christians. That in this Year of Faith Christians may deepen their knowledge of the mystery of Christ and witness joyfully to the gift of faith in him.
Missionary Intention: Middle Eastern Christians. That the Christian communities of the Middle East, often discriminated against, may receive from the Holy Spirit the strength of fidelity and perseverance.
Keywords: Cardinal Burke, Catholic Colleges, Ex Corde Ecclesia, Deacon Keith Fournier, Catholic Identity
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