Card. Burke on Catholic Universities

From CNA with my emphases and comments.

Boston, Mass., Dec 11, 2010 / 07:39 am (CNA).- The authentically Catholic university helps students resist “secularist dictatorship” by keeping Jesus Christ at the center of its mission and by exposing the moral bankruptcy of contemporary culture, Cardinal Raymond Burke said Dec. 4. [What schools do that today?]

The cardinal’s comments came in an address at St. Thomas More College’s annual President’s Council Dinner, held Dec. 4 at the Harvard Club of Boston.

In a lengthy discussion of the nature of Catholic higher education, he said that a Catholic university faithful to its identity will help students give an account of their faith and help them resist “the secularist dictatorship which would exclude all religious discourse from the professions and from public life in general.”  [I wonder if His Eminence spoke about Ex corde Ecclesiae at all…]

He also declared Jesus Christ, the “fullness” of God’s revelation, as “the first and chief teacher at every institution of Catholic higher education.”

“A Catholic college or university at which Jesus Christ alive in His Church is not taught, encountered in the Sacred Liturgy and its extension through prayer and devotion, and followed in a life of virtue is not worthy of the name,” he told attendees.

Jesus’ presence is not something “extraneous” to the pursuit of truth because he alone inspires and guides professors and students to remain faithful in their pursuits and not “fall prey to the temptations which Satan cleverly offers to corrupt us.”  [No doubt liberal critics will pick on Card. Burke’s superstitious medieval notions about the some guy with red tights and mustache.]

Cardinal Burke lamented the fall of many American Catholic colleges and universities that have become “Catholic in name only.” [A phrase which may be gaining more currency these days, as people wake up.]

Citing Pope John Paul II’s ad limina address to the U.S. bishops of New York, he said that the service of Catholic universities “depends on the strength of their Catholic identity.” The Catholic university was born from “the heart of the Church[i.e. ex corde Ecclesiae] and has been “critical” to meeting the challenges of the time.

The Catholic university is needed more than ever in a society “marked by a virulent secularism which threatens the integrity of every aspect of human endeavor and service,” he said.

“How tragic that the very secularism which the Catholic university should be helping its students to battle and overcome has entered into several Catholic universities, leading to the grievous compromise of their high mission,” he commented.

The American-born cardinal said that rather than exemplifying secularism, the Catholic university’s manner of study and research should “manifest the bankruptcy of the abuse of human life and human sexuality … and the bankruptcy of the violation of the inviolable dignity of human life, of the integrity of marriage, and of the right order of our relationship to one another and to the world.” [This puts their mission in somewhat negative terms.  Some would perhaps prefer that schools should manifest the positive things a lived-Christian faith can bring about.  However, Catholic schools must engage prevailing culture as well.  In doing so the deficiencies of secularism will be made manifest.]

This bankruptcy is “the trademark of our culture, a culture of violence and death,” he charged. Quoting Pope Benedict XVI, he said the mission of the Catholic university is “to develop a society truly worthy of the human person’s dignity.”

Cardinal Burke also described the kind of relationship that should exist between the local bishop and a Catholic university. The “noble mission” of the university, he said, can only be accomplished within the Church, and the local bishop should be able to depend upon the Catholic university as a partner in meeting the challenges of evangelization, in teaching the faith, and in celebrating the liturgy.

He criticized as “totally anomalous” the situation in which the Catholic university views the bishop as “a suspect or outright unwelcome partner in the mission of Catholic higher education.”

On the issues of creating curricula and hiring professors, Cardinal Burke advised “special care,” noting the poor religious formation of many young Catholics.

Given the religious illiteracy which marks our time and in fidelity to the seriousness with which university studies should be undertaken, there is really no place for engaging in speculative theology and certainly no time to waste on superficial and tendentious theological writings of the time,” the cardinal contended.  [Basics first.]

He questioned why students should be engaged in discussions about the ordination of women as priests when they already have little knowledge of the “consistent teaching” of the Holy Scriptures and Catholic Tradition on the priesthood.

He closed his remarks by praying that St. Thomas More College will form its graduates to cultivate “the divine wisdom and truth” and always to place truth and love first.

“My reflection is offered to assist us all in seeking always first the truth and love by which we serve others and our world well by serving God first,” he said.

In an e-mail to CNA, St. Thomas More College president William Fahey characterized Cardinal Burke’s speech as “a kind of authoritative gloss on Ex Corde Ecclesiae,” John Paul II’s encyclical on Catholic higher education.

In his own remarks at the President’s Council Dinner, Fahey characterized the New Hampshire college as “small by design” like the U.S. Marine Corps. He stressed the college’s Catholic identity and its commitment to the New England region, asking for help and prayers to support a growing student body.

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19 Responses to Card. Burke on Catholic Universities

  1. Bryan Boyle says:

    meanwhile, while this towering intellect is telling the CINO colleges (most notably those founded by the Company…) what they SHOULD be, the CEOs of those colleges are busy running around covering up symbols of the real KING so they don’t offend the self-appointed ‘messiah’ with their fingers planted firmly in their ears up to the second knuckle screaming ‘la la la la la’.

    And I say CEO, because it’s not a mission to educate anymore (thank Bro. Kenney SJ at Fordham U in the early 70s who figured out a way for the Company to maintain control of the institution while recasting it as a secular private university to allow it to dip into the state’s pocketbook…), as much as it is to generate revenue from getting warm bodies in that are willing to shell out $$$ for the prestige (?) of attending potemkin village colleges.

    Feh on all of them. JP-II should have suppressed the order and taken over all of them, putting them under someone of Burke’s or other faithful bishop’s stewardship.

  2. Supertradmum says:

    “Given the religious illiteracy which marks our time and in fidelity to the seriousness with which university studies should be undertaken, there is really no place for engaging in speculative theology and certainly no time to waste on superficial and tendentious theological writings of the time,” the cardinal contended. [Basics first.]

    He questioned why students should be engaged in discussions about the ordination of women as priests when they already have little knowledge of the “consistent teaching” of the Holy Scriptures and Catholic Tradition on the priesthood.”

    Can we start with the so-called Catholic seminaries, where the basic are not taught? I know several seminarians in graduate colleges who never had a class on Church history, the encyclicals, or the Catechism of the Catholic Church. This excellent man could also encourage his fellow bishops to remove the name Catholic from such places as Loyola in Chicago, Notre Dame (my alma mater, sadly fallen), and Marquette. If the local ordinary has the power, why is this not done, as in St. Louis, where the University is legally no longer Catholic and cannot use the name, after a law suit by a smart student.

  3. Supertradmum says:

    The above mentioned seminarians went to seminaries at the undergraduate level, not other colleges.

  4. Rob Cartusciello says:

    How tragic that the very secularism which the Catholic university should be helping its students to battle and overcome has entered into several Catholic universities, leading to the grievous compromise of their high mission.

    I agree with this entire statement entirely, except for the word “several”.

    Most of the Catholic colleges & universities in the United States surrendered their birthright to the secularist forces of the modern academy. This was not “academic freedom” – it was capitulation.

  5. Linz says:

    I love Cardinal Burke.

  6. Andy Milam says:

    Since it’s super hard to criticize anything that His Emminence has to say, I will simply make this critique…Isn’t it nice to see a prelate wearing a simar as opposed to a suit? Suits are so blase and simars are so proper.

    Big thumbs up to Card. Burke for setting the bar.

  7. Fr Matthew says:

    I studied for a year at Magdalen College (now the College of St Mary Magdalen) in Warner, NH, for one year, which has some connections to St Thomas More College (I read somewhere that they were actually considering a merger recently, although that didn’t go through). Reading what Cardinal Burke says, Magdalen really fits the bill. It was precisely the strongly Catholic identity, experience of the living Christ in the liturgy and community prayer, and clear analysis of the defects of the secularist and relativist culture, that helped me so much. If I hadn’t gone there, I might not have been a priest like I am today…

  8. tobiasmurphy says:

    “‘Given the religious illiteracy which marks our time and in fidelity to the seriousness with which university studies should be undertaken, there is really no place for engaging in speculative theology and certainly no time to waste on superficial and tendentious theological writings of the time,’ the cardinal contended.  [Basics first.]”

    When I was in my undergrad in catechetics, we were told repeatedly about the difference between catechetics and theology. Any student outside of a theology department (and some in a theology department) probably isn’t well-catechized enough for speculative theology. I teach high school “theology,” but it’s really catechesis. I don’t go into speculative theology unless directly asked, and if I am, I usually tell them to ask again later when I have enough time to prepare them properly to understand the issue.

    On a similar issue, I had a professor in my theology department at a well-known orthodox university who insisted on teaching as fact the heresy of Loisy. When the class overwhelmingly challenged her, she called us fundamentalists. Sadly, a number of students sided with her.

    Oh, and Andy Milam, nice to see ya here!

  9. Does anyone know if the full text, audio, or video will be made available? If so, I hope it is posted here.

  10. lizfromFL says:

    May God bless him for addressing this issue. Regarding poorly formed Catholic foundations in the young, I submit this example: At my old Catholic elementary school, religion is no longer a course of study. Children who enroll, unbaptized, or not “on time” with their sacraments, receiving their training with CCD rather than the school.

    How, oh how can a Catholic school NOT have a period for Religion???? Coloring pages of the Blessed Mother and Jesus line halls, along with quotations from Mother Teresa. Nice start, but a far cry from what they should be doing.

  11. Clinton says:

    He criticized as “totally anomalous” the situation in which the Catholic university views the bishop as “a suspect or outright unwelcome partner in the mission of Catholic higher education.”

    Remember the mess of Notre Dame’s honoring President Obama. The Ordinary for the diocese
    of South Bend, Bishop D’Arcy, was told of the university’s arrangements less than a day before
    the public announcement was released. On top of blindsiding the Bishop, the university later
    released a statement that it had vetted the honors by consulting with its own canon lawyers and
    theologians. The university rather pointedly did not include Bishop D’Arcy in the list of those
    consulted and otherwise made it obvious that his views were neither needed, heeded nor wanted.

    Notre Dame made a very public rejection of the idea that it is in partnership with the Bishop.
    Evidently, His Excellency’s role in Catholic higher education at ND is to appear at university
    events when bidden, on time and properly dressed, and keep his mouth shut. I cannot recall
    reading of this ideal of Bishop-as-wallpaper within ‘Ex Corde Ecclesiae’, but then I do not have
    a fleet of canonists and theologians to find it for me. (Perhaps it exists in the emanations and
    penumbras). But I’d say that most Catholics find it unsettling that a university could claim
    to be independent of any oversight from a Church for whom it presumes to speak, and for
    whom it forms the next generation.

  12. Randii says:

    Should teach, could teach , would teach – IMO this begs the question.

    It’s been several decades since Ex Corde and, per the Newman Society, only 20 – 25 US Catholic universities pass muster as in teach the faith – out of around 200 US Catholic universities.

    Mormon schools, Muslim schools and others – there is no disconnect between what those churches profess to believe and what is taught in their educational centers.

    There is howver, and has been for decades, a huge disconnect between the officially professed belief of the Catholic church and what is taught in a majority of her US educational institutions – including Catholic high schools which can be and often are as much off the reservation as are the majority of US Catholic universities/colleges.

    It’s an absurd situation IMO.

  13. Clinton says:

    Rereading my comment above, I think that it might appear I am criticizing Bishop D’Arcy for appearing at university events when bidden, etc. That is not the case. As you’ll
    recall, His Excellency, with more civility than was deserved, declined to attend that Notre
    Dame commencement.

    My ‘Bishop-as-wallpaper’ remark describes not Bishop D’Arcy and his brother Bishops who
    are also Ordinaries for Catholic universities, but rather the ideal Bishop/college relationship
    in the eyes of many Catholic institutions.

  14. Clinton says:

    Randii, I agree it is absurd. Imagine a medical school that declared that any oversight
    on the part of medical professionals outside the school was an infringement of precious
    academic freedom that lessened the school’s credibility as a venue for truly unfettered
    intellectual inquiry blah blah. Now imagine that the medical school, in the spirit of
    unfettered academic inquiry, begins to teach classes in crystal therapy, phrenology, and
    the diagnosing illness by use of horoscopes. The AMA, accreditation boards and right-
    thinking doctors all object–and the medical school tells them all to go pound sand.

    I think it’s a fair analogy to what Catholic higher ed. is doing here.

  15. TJerome says:

    Notre Dame is my alma mater. Father Jenkins decision to give President Obama honors caused great pain and division within the Notre Dame community. I haven’t, and will not, give one more dime to ND until the Jenkins regime is gone. And I still won’t if they plan on honoring abortionists in the future. Most of my classmates felt they same way and followed suit. ND is trying to downplay the backlash but it has caused the University to lose many, many millions of current and future donations. I felt Bishop D’Arcy should have suspended Father Jenkins from the priesthood. I still do.

  16. ipadre says:

    I attended the Symposium, and the Mass celebrated by Cardinal Burke at St. Clement’s Shrine of the Blessed Sacrament. The theme of the symposium was “St. Thomas More and Statesmanship: The Proper Role of Catholic Politicians”. The speakers included Ambassador Ray Flynn “Catholics in the Civic Arena”, Senator Rick Santorum “Faith and the Public Square”, and Dr. Hadley Arkes “Catholics in Politics: Remembering What We Once Used to Know”. All great talks! The Mass was spectacular, Ordinary Form in the Vernacular with a 5 or 6 person Schola, sang a capella music in Latin.

  17. Clinton says:

    TJerome, I agree with you 100%, but as Fr. Jenkins is a priest of the Holy Cross Fathers
    and not a diocesan priest Bishop D’Arcy may have very limited options re: discipline.
    The superiors of the Order seem to have nothing to say regarding the ND scandal.

    On a happier note, ipadre’s description of the Symposium sounds wonderful. I do hope
    that some or all of the talks are made available either online or as articles in a magazine such
    as ‘First Things’.

  18. K. Marie says:

    The Newman Guide found here: http://www.thenewmanguide.com/TheCatholicColleges/tabid/506/Default.aspx has a great list of authentically Catholic universities.

  19. @iPadre – do you know if CD’s or DVD’s were being offered, of the talks?

    Still looking to see if Cardinal Burke’s address is available somewhere in full text. St. Thomas More College should upload it as Human Life International uploaded the text and video from his recent address there.