Wednesday, April 16, 2008

Thomas Hibbs on 'Benedict and the Universities"

Benedict and the Universities: Can we recapture the essence of Catholic higher education? (National Review April 16, 2008) - Thomas S. Hibbs, dean of the Honors College at Baylor University, writes in anticipation of Benedict's address to Catholic educators:

Some will say that there are many ways in which such universities can be Catholic apart from hiring Catholics to teach. That is not so clear, however; the trend is toward a contraction of the broad scope and the rich tradition of Catholic liberal education to issues of social justice and service, issues to which secular schools can be equally devoted. In addition to contraction, there is marginalization, as the Catholic elements are relegated to campus ministry or specialized Catholic centers, sometimes even centers for Catholic Studies. But a state university open to the serious study of religion could, according to these criteria, be equally “Catholic.”

Given these tendencies, what should the pope say to American Catholic colleges and universities? And what kind of impact, if any, will his words have?