Fr Schall, John Paul II and the Clarion Call

Fr Schall, John Paul II and the Clarion Call

Fr Schall, Georgetown May 7, 2010

In an essay on Catholic universities, Fr Schall sounds the clarion call for renewal in Catholic higher education:

“The Holy Father and Cardinal Lustiger of Paris have proved again and again that university students can be their most ardent followers. The Pope in his travels never fail[ed] to give a careful address at a major university in the country or city he is visiting. ‘The origin and purpose of this university (of Havana), its history and its heritage,’ John Paul said in Cuba (L’Osservatore Romano, 4 February 1998), ‘reveal its vocation to be a fountain of wisdom and freedom, an inspiration to faith and justice, a crucible where knowledge and conscience are fused, the teacher of a culture which is at once universal and Cuban. . . .

To the Bishops of Illinois, Indiana, and Wisconsin, John Paul II remarked (May 30, 1998): ‘The Catholic identity of a university should be evident in its curriculum, in its faculty, in student activities and in the quality of its community life. This is no infringement upon the university’s nature as a true center of learning, where the truth of the created order is fully respected, but also ultimately illuminated by the light of the new creation in Christ’ (L’Osservatore Romano, 2 June 1998). He also remarked that students have a right to have what the Church actually holds to be taught to them, not merely the private opinions of the professors. . . . It might well be that bishops will think that access to the intellectual needs of Catholics is better served through other institutions that need to be formed and developed. It does seem to me that bishops should advise all students in college, Catholic or secular, to commit themselves to a basic core of readings while they are in college, with perhaps some well-developed on-line or taped presentation of major Catholic positions. At a minimum, students should be asked directly and with the seriousness of the Church’s authority to read, while in college, the General Catechism of the Catholic Church, Augustine’s Confessions, Josef Pieper – an Anthology, Chesterton’s Orthodoxy, and John Paul II’s Crossing the Threshold of Faith and Fides et Ratio.”We can just follow the fate of theology and philosophy in the universities to see the need for renewal. The requirements are reduced, the mandatum is ignored, the mutual influence of faith and reason diminished. For the most part, we still await the institutional implementation of the legacy of Pope John Paul II; I was heartened on this trip, however, to hear from Jude Dougherty, former Dean of the School of Philosophy, that the Catholic University of America still retains its four course requirement in philosophy. But as most institutions sputter and continue to reduce the presence of philosophy and theology, it is left in large measure to the individual professors, centers, institutes to seek the illumination of the “the new creation in Christ” and to read Augustine, Chesterton, Pieper, John Paul II. Please pray for the work of the Pope John Paul II Forum; and for Fr Schall who asked for our prayers.

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