The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) marked the anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s Apostolic Exhortation Christifideles Laici—released 20 years ago today—with a statement by the distinguished philosopher Dr. John P. Hittinger of the University of St. Thomas, Houston.
“Christifideles Laici is truly a great document, and could perhaps be singled out as the key document to the renewal of Catholic life and the hope for overcoming the degradation and despair which engulfs the world today,” writes Dr. Hittinger. “It surely must stand as the great standard or measure for the aspiration and achievement of any institution of Catholic higher education.”
The statement, titled “Christifideles Laici and the Catholic University,” is posted at www.catholichighered.org, the website of the CNS research division, The Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education. Dr. Hittinger, a professor of philosophy at the University of St. Thomas’ Center for Thomistic Studies, serves on The Center’s advisory board.
“[T]he laity need sound education, as only a Catholic university can provide,” writes Dr. Hittinger. “The lay person needs a ‘vital synthesis’ of ‘humane, domestic, professional, social and technical enterprises’ with religious values, under whose ‘supreme direction all things are harmonized unto God’s glory.’ (Christifideles Laici 60-61) The Catholic university is challenged to play a unique role in assisting the Church in providing ‘a total integrated formation for living an integrated life.’”
Joseph A. Esposito, director of The Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education, said, “We are delighted to have Dr. Hittinger provide this perspective for us on the 20th anniversary of a very important papal document. His views and, of course, the document itself help us to understand our role as Catholic laypeople and how the Catholic university can support it.”
The full text of Christifideles Laici can be accessed at the Vatican website.
The Cardinal Newman Society is a nonprofit organization committed to renewing and strengthening Catholic higher education. Its research Center publishes The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College and studies on critical issues and best practices in Catholic higher education.
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