Two academics at Newman Guide universities recently reflected on Pope Benedict XVI's role in strengthening Catholic higher education.
“This is the chief idea of Pope Benedict about higher education: it isn't our job just to provide information about God, but that the Catholic university should be a place where God is in our midst,” John Garvey, president of Catholic University of America, told Catholic News Agency.
Garvey reflected that Pope Benedict has tirelessly taught that Catholic universities should be bringing their students “not just to know God, but to love God.”
Garvey also noted that the Pope has supported academic freedom. He pointed out the tendency to mistake the belief that “there really are false and true ideas...for a disbelief in academic freedom.” Pope Benedict's writings, Garvey said, highlight that truth is the only context in which academic freedom can arise and have meaning.
In addition, Susan Hanssen, a professor of history at the University of Dallas, discussed how Pope Benedict has influenced parents who are helping their children to choose from among universities. She stressed his emphasis on the importance of Catholic identity and both faith and reason.
“Parents are much more informed consumers after this decade,” she said. They “are no longer fooled by Catholic labels” but are looking for “vibrantly Catholic” universities.
Hanssen described “roving bands of Catholic parents, well aware of their parental right to educate their children, determined to spend their money wisely, market-educated by listening to EWTN, reading up on colleges on the [Cardinal] Newman Society website, and combing through Catholic college websites, faculty web pages, and university curricula for that rare commodity--a genuinely Catholic education worth its weight in gold.”
These well-informed parents, together with the proliferation of “smaller, newer, more vibrantly Catholic institutions” such as Wyoming Catholic College, “are the legacy...of Benedict XVI,” she said.
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