The Urgency of Restoring the Catholic (and Catholic) Nature of Higher Education
Leisure and Labor Conference, Ignatius Press (2017, Forthcoming)
21 Pages Posted: 19 Oct 2017
Date Written: 2017
This essay reflects upon the overwhelming trend of secularization in American Catholic higher education that has led to colleges and universities largely abandoning their liberal arts heritage for a more “instrumentalist” approach to education. This trend is part of what Pope Benedict XVI has identified as the “crisis of cultures” where Western concepts of reason are increasingly detached from their cultural and spiritual roots, resulting in an inability to speak to anything beyond the material world and our current understanding of it. I argue that we must resist the operational atheism that afflicts most American education, including many schools that are identified as religiously-affiliated. This atheism results resulting in what Pope Emeritus Benedict has called “the presumed completeness and use of liberty as the ‘criterion of everything else.’” This absolutizing of liberty with no higher moral criterion leaves us unable to address pressing problems as a community and specifically excludes an contribution from communities of faith.
Keywords: Catholic, Catholic education, higher education, Catholic higher education, secularization, religion and education, morality and education
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