Symposium examines identity, role of Catholic higher education

He made the comments at an April 19-22 symposium at the Franciscan University of Steubenville that drew representatives from Catholic colleges and universities in the United States and other countries to discuss the purpose and identity of Catholic higher education.

In delivering the opening address April 19, he also said schools’ theologians should obtain a “mandatum,” or authorization to teach, from their bishop to guarantee they are teaching in conformity with church doctrine.

The Canadian-born archbishop was president of St. Thomas University in Houston before he was called into Vatican service.

Jesuit Father Michael Garanzini, president of Loyola University in Chicago, spoke April 20 about the obstacles Catholic colleges and universities encounter when they attempt to strengthen their identity, the challenges of integration and the need for service as a component of that identity.

Holy Cross Father John Jenkins, president of the University of Notre Dame in Indiana, addressed the importance of the intellectual life on the Catholic university campus and the need to facilitate a dialogue between faith and reason.

“What are the implications of God’s law for society, for the moral life, for music, for literature, architecture, economic life, political life and so on?”
Father Jenkins asked in his speech April 21. “These are questions that should animate the life of the Catholic university. The Catholic university brings together the tradition of faith and the insights and discoveries of the wider culture.”

Workshops during the symposium also addressed the issues of core curriculum and student life.

Max Bonilla, vice president for academic affairs at Franciscan University, said he hopes the conference will lead to increased dialogue between schools and faculty about what it means to be a Catholic university. He also said that other administrators have already spoken of their intent to hold workshops and seminars on the issue at their own universities.

“We were extremely pleased by the depth of dialogue,” he added.

Catholic Review

The Catholic Review is the official publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore.