Tom and Jerry: Defenders of All Things Right and Good

Thursday, January 12, 2006

Notre Dame's Catholic Character

I do not intend to turn this into a blog exclusively devoted to defending my alma mater, but the following was too good to leave out. Some of my friends criticize Notre Dame for allegedly losing its Catholic character. I'll let Father Richard John Neuhaus, conservative editor-in-chief of First Things and writing in the December 2005 issue, answer the charge: "To students and parents inquiring about a solidly Catholic college, I would usually mention some of the obvious ones: Steubenville, Ave Maria, Thomas Aquinas. And then, not only because I was on the board there, I would suggest they not overlook the University of Dallas. People were sometimes taken aback, however, when I suggested they take a close look at Notre Dame where, if one chose carefully, one could get a thoroughly Catholic education. Many conservative Catholics had given up on Notre Dame assuming it had gone the way of Georgetown and Boston College. The impression was largely due to the prominence of Fr. Richard McBrien, long-time chairman of the theology department and a kind of Peck’s Bad Boy in adolescent rebellion against church authority. Things have been changing at Notre Dame, however, and people should take another look. The current head of theology is John Cavadini, who has a lively sense of the Christian, and specifically Catholic, intellectual tradition, and the new president of Notre Dame is Father John Jenkins, who said this in his inaugural address: ‘There are certainly other truly great universities in this country. Many of them began as religious, faith-inspired institutions, but nearly all have left that founding character behind. One finds among them a disconnect between the academic enterprise and an over-arching religious and moral framework that orients academics activity and defines a good human life.’ Speaking of what he hopes Notre Dame will be: ‘This is no easy mission. But its difficulty is not our concern; we did not create the mission, and we cannot change it. The word “mission” derives from the Latin root missus-which means “sent.” We have been sent-to seek God, study the world, and serve humanity.’ It may be premature to say for certain, but it does seem that Notre Dame is on the way back.” (hyperlinks added)


  • Tom, no shame in pushing your alma mater, and a quote from Neuhaus is typically worth repeating. I did not know, however, that he had been on the board of my own alma mater: U. Dallas. Then again, I would have barely recognized his name when I was a student there.

    By Anonymous Fr. Jason Tyler, at Saturday, January 14, 2006 3:31:00 AM  

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