Theology should be at the heart of Catholic universities, Vancouver Archbishop J. Michael Miller recently told an audience at the University of St. Michael’s College at the University of Toronto.
Abp. Miller, former president of the University of St. Thomas in Houston and former Vatican Secretary for Catholic Education, said that following Vatican II some theology departments became more neutral “religious studies” departments. He said that while religious studies is a fine avenue for study, it should not replace theology at a Catholic university.
Miller outlined a number of reasons why theology departments are crucial, according to The Catholic Register:
Theology teaches students the art of service to the Church and society, and it should be accessible to every student attending a Catholic university, he said. Theology, and not religious studies, he continued, teaches sound moral discernment, preparing students for the life challenges that they will face. Students’ introduction to theology should be proportional to their general education, he added.
Theology combats secularism in the academy as well as society in general, said Miller.
“Christianity cannot be reduced to the world of myth and emotion.”
Theology also keeps the academy searching for truth, said Miller.
“A university is at the service of the truth” and a theology faculty has a “genuine passion for the absolute truth itself.” Miller explained that through the marriage of theology and philosophy, the truth can be discovered. “Learning is not only about the search for the truth, but its joyful discovery.”
Theology is also where reason and faith meet, neither of which is sufficient alone.
“Faith seeks understanding, and understanding seeks faith,” he said.
The “mutual complementarity of faith and reason in the search for truth” is possible in theology. Miller said that theologians believe in a God of reason and that a theology department will broaden the academy’s understanding of reason.
Theology is an irreplaceable discipline, the archbishop concluded, one that is essential to Catholics, Protestants and others. It is needed to keep other academic disciplines balanced and vice versa.
Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.