Friday, October 24, 2014

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Catholic Education Daily

 

Is Academic Freedom Possible? John Henry Newman’s Witness

One of the questions often debated at Catholic colleges is whether academic freedom is really possible at a Catholic college. Fr. Juan R. Vélez, author of Passion for Truth, the Life of John Henry Newman, wrote a piece at First Thingssaying that Blessed Newman’s inspiration has guided many toward answers to that question.

What is the role of a Catholic theologian in the Church? What is the relationship of a theologian with the Teaching Office of the Church? It’s a perpetual topic, but John Henry Newman, whose feast day fell two days ago (October 9), is perhaps the best example to look to for understanding. Although he actually never referred to himself as a theologian, he saw his research as a service to the Church, a service subject to the discernment of his bishop.

Recent documents address these questions in Newman’s spirit. In 1990, the Instruction on the Ecclesial Vocation of a Theologiandescribed the freedom of a theologian: “The freedom proper to theological research is exercised within the Church’s faith. Thus while the theologian might often feel the urge to be daring in his work, this will not bear fruit or “edify” unless it is accompanied by that patience which permits maturation to occur.”

You can read the entire piece at First Things.

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