The outcome--today's reality--can be summed up in one statement:
Until Catholic leaders stand up against the secular trends on their own campuses, and strive again to be Cardinal Newman’s "light of the world," many more Catholic universities will likely end the pretense of calling themselves Catholic.
Many lament that trend. Just ask Anthony Esolen.
But, they shouldn't.
On the part of most administrators, allowing the adjective "Catholic" to remain in an institution's title is nothing short of false advertising. The post-Vatican II "experiment" to make Catholic colleges the "rival" of their secular peers has come to fruition in many, if not most so-called "Catholic" colleges. Today, they are--at best--only nominally Catholic, that is, "Catholic In Name Only."
As one comment to Hendershott's article noted:
God has prepared an amazing banquet for us but most of us prefer to dine in the dumpster. That doesn't mean the dumpster is better or inevitable.
Six decades ago, most of those folks joked that a "Catholic college" was an oxymoron. Today, being identifiably Catholic is considered embarrassing to the point that what once was a dream is now the reality. Most of today's Catholic colleges demonstrate little, if any substantive difference from their secular peers.
It's time to ask: Do academic administrators of today's Catholic colleges actively ensure that students attending their institutions:
- integrate faith and reason?
- are formed as adults in the Catholic faith and its practice?
- think about all matters as the Catholic Church does?
- contemplate and practice what virtue requires of them (e.g., chastity)?
- worship with the Church?
If the answers to those questions are "Yes," exactly how do they do that? Furthermore, how do they know they're achieving those outcomes in students? Might academic administrators provide the objective data produced through rigorous research? If the answers to those questions are "No," why were those administrators hired?
It's also time to ask: Do parents really send their children to today's Catholic colleges:
- to integrate faith and reason?
- to be formed as adults in the Catholic faith and its practice?
- to think about all matters as the Catholic Church does?
- to contemplate and practice what virtue requires (e.g., chastity)?
- to worship with the Church?
If the answers to those questions are "Yes," what solid evidence do those parents have that their children will receive a distinctively "Catholic" education for which they must pay a very high premium? If the answers to those questions are "No," why ever are those parents sending their children to those institutions and paying a premium for what essentially is a pretense? Unless, of course, none of that matters.
When will the U.S. Catholic Church admit that this "experiment" has failed?
Let the discussion begin...
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