On Georgetown and the Essential Unity of All Knowledge


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ABSTRACT On Georgetown and the Essential Unity of All Knowledge: Catholic World Report HOME ARCHIVED ARTICLES EDITORIAL CWR BLOG VIDEO ABOUT US NEWS BRIEFS / RSS FREE eNEWSLETTER DONATE ADVERTISE Current Issue:   Sojourns with Schall Sojourns with Schall Print   /   Share   /   Send On Georgetown and the Essential Unity of All Knowledge May 17, 2012 Freedoms are being restricted with the aid of Catholics who have denied, in practice, any real connection between reason and revelation. James V. Schall, S.J. Secretary of Health and Human Services Kathleen Sebelius. (CNS) “Faith’s recognition of  the essential unity of all knowledge  provides a bulwark against the alienation and fragmentation which occurs when the use of reason is detached from the pursuit of truth and virtue; and in this sense, Catholic institutions have a specific role to play in helping to overcome the crisis of universities today.” --  Pope Benedict XVI,   “Ad Limina  Address to U. S. Bishops, May 5, 2012. I. In its editorial occasioned by Georgetown University’s invitation to Kathleen Sebelius—a Catholic, who is engineering the requirement that Catholic institutions must provide services to any employee, even if they include things contrary to conscience, faith, and reason—the  Catholic Standard  (May 10) called the invitation disappointing “but not surprising.” Though this statement is rather blunt, it is probably too mild in light of the damage the invitation causes. It is more than “disappointing,” though it is indeed no “surprise.” The distance that many Catholic universities are perceived to have moved from Catholicism is, for many, illustrated by the publicity of this invitation. Honoring the person who intends to shut one’s institution down unless it conforms to laws that deny religious liberty and human intelligence seems, at best, dubious. The best background “theory” about why Sebelius was interested in this invitation is that the Obama administration does not think it can win the election if people are reminded of the economy. Thus, effort is made to shift attention to what are called “moral” issues, a euphemism for the use of “rights” to redefine the whole field of public life. Obama’s advocacy of gay-marriage also falls into this category. The administration understands the value of splitting the religious vote between those who stand for Christian teachings and practices and those who reject them but insist on changing the Church to conform to the secular pattern. However many can be enticed by this tactic may be enough at the polls to win reelection. The only bad prince, as Machiavelli put it, is one who loses power. The Church would expect, at a time when its liberty of mission and action is threatened by specific governmental decree, that universities, not just Catholic ones, would be the first to come to its aid. But they seem to be the last. They appear mostly indifferent to what has been probably the most unique of American legal innovations about the relation of religion and government. The Sebelius invitation, from the outside, seems an indifference to the Church by those who would be most expected to support her on the grounds of intelligence itself. The issue is whether universities called “Catholic” have not become rather secular with vague religious symbols still about but no substantial connection with what it is to be Catholic in reason and intelligence. The bishops, for all their courage in facing this question, have not addressed the factual question about what is the actual orientation of universities that are called “Catholic” for whatever reason. II. Meanwhile, Pope Benedict XVI has been speaking to various groups of the American hierarchy on their periodic visits to Rome to report on the status of the local Church. To the final group of visiting American bishops, the pope spoke of education. “Catholic colleges and universities need to reaffirm their distinctive identity in fidelity to their founding ideals and the Church’s mission in service of the Gospel,” Benedict observed. Obviously, Benedict knows that both the identity and fidelity are in serious question in many if not most universities. The universities are not doing what might be expected of them. The pope tells the bishops, however, that “the schools remain an essential resource for the new evangelization” He acknowledges that they should be better recognized and supported. “It is no exaggeration to say that providing young people with a sound education in the faith represents the most urgent internal challenge facing the Catholic community in your country.” The young, in fact, have a “right to encounter the faith in all its beauty, its intellectual rich.......