In light of the Notre Dame scandal and others like it, the editors at the National Catholic Register look at the true purpose and function of a Catholic university and note that the failure of so many schools to fulfill their proper function is undermining the Church's mission.
The Register laments the failure of many Catholic universities to properly educate and form their students at a time when a strong and unified Catholic voice is so desperately needed in our increasingly secular society.
...Think of the fundamental beliefs in our society that originated in the universities: moral relativism, radical feminism, militant atheism. By and large, Americans oppose all of these things. But that is changing fast.
Imagine what the world would be like with more teachers, journalists and public officials who are professional, balanced and as unafraid to speak of their Catholic faith as secularist folks are to speak of theirs. Imagine more doctors as careful to uphold human dignity as they are to be up on the latest developments in medical science.
Imagine librarians open-minded enough to present religious books alongside secular ones, business people always looking out for families — in the community and in their employ — alongside their own profits.
But a central misunderstanding about the nature of Catholic higher education has robbed the Church of many of the benefits Catholic universities should have provided.
In 1967, the nation’s top Catholic university leaders signed the Land O’ Lakes Statement, claiming: “The Catholic university must have a true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical, external to the academic community itself.”
That choice of words betrays a fundamental misunderstanding of academic freedom that could only happen in a situation where schools are deliberately trying to exclude the magisterium.. Full editorial