viernes, 18 de septiembre de 2015

The Catholic college and university of the 21st century and the third millennium exists to equip disciples for mission.

Catholic Scholar Weigel Calls for Repairs to ‘Deficit’ in Catholic Higher Education

By Justin Petrisek 

The modern Catholic college exists to form and equip students to be missionary disciples and therefore can no longer ignore its responsibility to care for the moral and spiritual well-being of students, according to acclaimed author and theologian George Weigel.

Weigel, author of the Saint John Paul II biography Witness to Hope and distinguished senior fellow at the Ethics and Public Policy Center in Washington, D.C., gave this year’s opening lecture at Christendom College in Front Royal, Va., during which he addressed the responsibility that Catholic colleges have to faithfully fulfill their mission and purpose.

“The Catholic college and university of the 21st century and the third millennium exists to equip disciples for mission. It exists to deepen the human and intellectual formation of witnesses to Christ,” Weigel told The Cardinal Newman Society in a separate interview. Catholic higher education must be world-transforming, he said.

“If a university wants to have any serious claim to the name ‘Catholic,’” Weigel said, it must embrace the teaching of the Church, including the Church’s understanding of the human person. This means that colleges cannot be allowed to have lax standards in areas of moral, spiritual and intellectual excellence. “Where that deficit exists, it must be addressed and repaired.”

These deficits have certainly be apparent of late. Fordham University watched its theology chair undermine Church teaching, the University of San Francisco celebrated the U.S. Supreme Court ruling on same-sex marriage and numerous colleges have continued to propone atheist clubs on campus or maintain connections to Planned Parenthood.

“I think we all know who the miscreants are; many are universities in the ‘Jesuit and Catholic tradition,’ as they’re pleased to call themselves,” said Weigel.

But how did these colleges come to find themselves in such a state?

“In too many ways,” it seems that Catholic colleges have surrendered to modernity, Weigel explained. “By abandoning core curricula. By abandoning standards of behavior and adopting an ‘anything goes’—except anything un-p.c.—[policy] on campus. By abandoning human and spiritual formation and dumbing down academic formation.”

Weigel continued, with reference to an argument he made in a First Things article last month:

Because they misunderstand the renewal of the Church as mandating this, or are starry-eyed about “preferred peers” in the academic world. Some, obviously, do it for financial reasons. There’s certainly room for non-Catholic faculty and students in Catholic institutions of higher education that have a clear sense of Catholic identity. But when the identity is weak, a tipping point can be reached where, thanks to a predominance of non-Catholic faculty and students, Catholic identity becomes almost unrecoverable. They understand this at Brandeis and Yeshiva University, and Catholic schools should, too.

“Much of Catholic higher education today is cacophonous because there is no directing principle,” Weigel stated in his lecture. But he also told the Newman Society that there are some basic standards that all Catholic colleges should embrace.

For faithful Catholic colleges to be truly excellent, the academic life should be guided by faith and reason and Church documents such as Fides et Ratio, Weigel said. Likewise, human and moral excellence should be inspired by Christ, and spiritual excellence should be inspired by the saints, he said.

The fruit of Catholic higher education speaks for itself. There is a clear difference between the students graduating from faithful Catholic colleges and those from the more nominal institutions: it is the difference between a “well-rounded young adult” and a “well-rounded young Catholic,” he asserted.

“The latter has become a friend of Jesus Christ and a missionary disciple,” said Weigel. “That’s a big difference” and one that will have a transformative effect on the world.

Colleges such as Christendom College, Benedictine College, The Catholic University of America, Thomas Aquinas College and the University of Dallas, among others, “have long taken core curriculum, human and spiritual formation, and Catholic identity seriously,” stated Weigel. They are the “bright side” of Catholic higher education.

These colleges and many others recommended for their strong Catholic identity can be found in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.

"Originally published by Catholic Education Daily, an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society." 

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