Loading
Archbishop Chaput challenges Catholic educators to 'convert the culture'
By Benjamin Mann
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia
Archbishop Charles J. Chaput of Philadelphia

.- Philadelphia Archbishop Charles J. Chaput encouraged Catholic universities to rediscover the Church's intellectual tradition and use it to shape society's future.

“Catholic higher education is heir to the greatest intellectual, moral and cultural patrimony in human history,” the archbishop said in a Nov. 10 address at Assumption College in Worcester, Massachusetts.

The Catholic intellectual tradition, he said, offers a “deeply satisfying answer” to the questions of human life, and is “beautiful because it's true.”

“It has nothing to be embarrassed about and every reason to be on fire with confidence and apostolic zeal. We only defeat ourselves – and we certainly don’t serve God – if we allow ourselves to ever think otherwise.”

The Philadelphia archbishop said that Catholic institutions of higher learning have suffered even more than other Church ministries from secularization that has taken place under the banner of “academic freedom.”

“Instead of Catholics converting the culture, the culture too often bleached out the apostolic zeal in Catholics while leaving the brand label intact,” he noted.

“And the lack of a vigorous Catholic witness … applies in a uniquely hurtful way to Catholic higher education.”

He acknowledged several reasons for the decline of Catholic academic life, including economic pressure and the loss of teaching personnel from religious orders.

“But another cause is the discomfort too many Catholics feel with a scholarly tradition that can be made to seem shabby and primitive in an age of scientific doubt,” observed the archbishop.

Instead of seeking to impress the world on its own terms, he said, Catholic schools must recapture the “genius” that once gave life to Western civilization with its harmony of reason and faith.

This type of education “refuses to separate intellectual and moral formation because they are inextricably linked.” And while honoring all subjects, “ it gives primacy to the disciplines that guide the formation of a holistic view of reality – philosophy and theology.”

Authentic Catholic learning, he noted, also makes an impact outside the university campus because it “aids in the creation of a Christian culture and explains what this means for human thriving.”

This type of cultural renewal is not a luxury, but an urgent need, Archbishop Chaput stressed.

Believers, he said, must use all of the Catholic tradition's resources to shape the future. Otherwise they will find themselves lost in “the 'next America' we now see emerging – an America ignorant or cynical toward religion in general and Christianity in particular.”

He noted that believers themselves had fostered this cultural crisis, both by their actions and by things left undone.

“We can blame the mass media, or the academy, or science, or special interest groups for the environment we now face,” Archbishop Chaput said.

“But we Christians–including we Catholics–helped create it with our eagerness to fit in, our distractions and overconfidence, and our own lukewarm faith.”

In the next several decades, the archbishop see an America emerging that is “likely to be much less friendly to Christian faith than anything in our country’s past … It’s not a question of when or if it might happen.”

And in that type of cultural environment, colleges and other Catholic institutions could use their freedom meaningfully, or continue losing it, he warned.

“It's happening today,” he said, citing state pressure on Catholic hospitals and adoption agencies, as well as lawsuits attacking religious liberty, restrictions on the conscience rights of doctors and other professionals, and attacks on religious institutions' tax-exempt status and hiring rights.

“Freedom of belief and religious practice used to be a concern that Americans had about other countries,” Archbishop Chaput said. “Now it’s a concern in ours.”

He told his Assumption College audience that their calling, in this context, was not to conform themselves to the world, but to oversee a revival in culture and the life of the mind.

“The vocation of a Catholic college is to feed the soul as well as the mind … to offer a vision of men and women made whole by the love of God, the knowledge of creation, and the reality of things unseen,” Archbishop Chaput reflected.

This, he said, “is the work that sets fire to a young person’s heart … Our task is to start that blaze and let it grow.”


Ads by AdsLiveMedia(What's this?)

* The number of messages that can be online is limited. CNA reserves the right to edit messages for content and tone. Comments and opinions expressed by users do not necessarily reflect the opinions or beliefs of CNA. CNA will not publish comments with abusive language, insults or links to other pages

RESOURCES »

Ads by Google (What's this?)

Featured Videos

3D Church mapping
3D Church mapping
#PAUSEforPeace Initiative
Dedicating art to San Juan de la Cruz
A state without territory elects new government
The renewal of the Legionaries of Christ
Presentation of the book "The Pastor"
Synod on the Family October 2014
Preferential option for the poor
God is alive, even in sport
'A forbidden God' named Best Film at the International Catholic Film Festival
Vatican backs a 'Pause for Peace' during World Cup final
The effects of religious violence in Sarajevo 
The origin of Corpus Christi 
Corpus Christi at the Vatican 
Homage to an Indian Cardinal
Train of the Child's Light
New book explaining gestures of the Mass
Encounter between Pope Francis and the Charismatic Renewal in the Spirit Movement.
Religious tensions subside amid Balkan floods
John Paul II Center for Studies on Marriage and Family
Jul
29

Liturgical Calendar

July 29, 2014

Saint Martha

All readings:
Today »
This year »

Catholic Daily

Gospel of the Day

Jn 11:19-27

Gospel
Date
07/29/14
07/28/14
07/27/14

Daily Readings


First Reading:: Jer 14: 17-22
Gospel:: Jn 11: 19-27

Saint of the Day

St. Martha »

Saint
Date
07/29/14
07/27/14

Homily of the Day

Jn 11:19-27

Homily
Date
07/29/14
07/28/14
07/27/14

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com

Ads by AdsLiveMedia.com
     HTML
Text only
Headlines
  

Follow us: