"Discussion of the book ... helped the students to understand more deeply what it means when we Catholics affirm that Jesus Christ cannot be known outside the Church. The Church, as the ongoing presence of Christ among us, is the only way by which we gain knowledge of him," the professor wrote.
Each of the five students in the class "has claimed to have grown in faith by reading the work, despite its ugly aspects," Lewis stated. "One has even stated that she feels her current work as a missionary has been made more effective because she frequently encounters people who display features of Carrère's mindset."
Sheridan's homily said that the controversy "has been a serious disruption to our unity. We have stopped trusting one another. And it pulling us apart as a university."
"With the help of our shared governance council in the next few weeks, I will be working to set up an ongoing commitment to our fidelity and freedom, to advance higher education within our entire faithful, orthodox Catholic university," Sheridan announced.
That project, he said, "will help to restore that break in our unity."
Sheridan added that he would be consulting with the leaders of other Catholic universities and Catholics involved in higher education, as well as those connected for Franciscan University, and drawing on the scholarship presented at a university symposium on Ex corde ecclesiae, the 1990 apostolic constitution on Catholic universities. Sheridan, a canon lawyer, wrote a doctoral dissertation on the document.
"It is the responsibility of everyone who belongs to the university family to advance the university's Catholic identity. It is the responsibility of all of us to strive for unity within this university that we all love."
In recent months, the university has also faced criticism amid 2018 reports that administrators have improperly addressed allegations of sexual assault, abuse, or misconduct. In response to those reports, Sheridan announced in August 2018 an independent review of university records by a law firm "specializing in Title IX compliance and sexual abuse and violence."
A report from the firm will reportedly be delivered to the university's board of trustees this month; university administrators have not announced whether it will be subsequently released publicly.
Sheridan's homily encouraged a period of rebuilding.
"These days demand courageous Catholics who will stand up for our faith to go forth and rebuild. Our Church, our world, needs people who are willing to stand for truth," he said.
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Sheridan concluded his homily by inviting all members of the university community to join him in renewing the profession of faith and oath of fidelity he had taken upon assuming the university's presidency in 2013. Members of the university's theology and philosophy faculties already take the oath annually.
"God has entrusted his university to us to lead and guide," Sheridan told university faculty members and administrators.
"May we always be courageous Catholics, empowered to fight together, for the fidelity of this university, and the work that Our Lord, Jesus Christ, has entrusted to us."