A faithful Catholic college provides an open and healthy environment for serious consid- eration of ideas without the tyranny of ha- rassment, political correctness or enforced relativism. The same cannot be said for many secular institutions.
secularized Catholic campus might include a more active Catholic campus ministry, re- spect for Catholic values in areas including residential life and campus programs, active
ThisGui d e represents the Catholic colleges that we were able to identify as placing a pre- mium on their Catholic identity in all aspects of campus life. They also provide a good edu- cation. Among those colleges not included in theGui d e are some with strong academic cre- dentials but that do not have, in our opinion, the same commitment to Catholic identity.
The opportunity for strengthening spiri- tual formation during the college years is enhanced where Catholic teachings are con-
It is the Apostolic Constitution on Catholic higher education issued by Pope John Paul II in 1990. The document, which is available at
to achieve a Catholic mission. These Norms are binding on Catholic colleges as an appli- cation of Canon Law.
Compliance by the U.S. Catholic colleges and universities varies widely. Clearly, a Catho- lic institution that minimizes or subvertsEx
in our opinion, is to ensure that students are adequately exposed to the Catholic intellec- tual tradition through theology, philosophy and other disciplines. As a rule, the larger the
ibility within the core curriculum, allowing, for example, a student to choose among vari- ous theology courses. This may or may not be desirable depending on the choices available. In the main, the best situation would seem to be where students are exposed to as large a number of strong, orthodox Catholic courses as possible.
A Great Books curriculum prescribes that stu- dents be taught the classical works of Western Civilization, generally through direct reading of the texts and discussing them and writing about them. A Great Books program can be
Those who promote a Great Books ap- proach at Catholic colleges see it as an unfet- tered way to present the Catholic intellectual tradition, because they take the position that the great classics are intertwined with Catho- lic thought.
A Great Books program tends to be rig- orous and can be an outstanding opportunity for serious students seeking a broad liberal arts degree. Such an approach, however, is not for everyone\u2014for instance, a student who is seeking specialized courses in a traditional college major.
than a \u201cthinker.\u201d Should I avoid colleges
that place a premium on theology and
No, that would be a mistake. Everyone should be concerned with \u201cFirst Things\u201d\u2014the natu- ral and supernatural truths that lie at the root of all knowledge and activity\u2014and the best way to do so is to understand what they are and how to address them. You would short- change yourself by avoiding these academic areas. For a fuller discussion of the impor- tance of philosophy and theology, please read
This is a raging debate in education circles. Historically, colleges were established to teach people to read the Bible, perhaps even to be- come clergymen. Another consideration was that students be taught enough of the classics to be good, productive citizens.
thusiasm for courses and majors to be \u201crel- evant.\u201d To a large extent, we as a society are the poorer for it.
We encourage students to direct their ed- ucational priorities in this order: (1) broaden your understanding of the Catholic intellec- tual tradition; (2) develop a greater apprecia-
enced Western thought, including prominent Americans; and (3) sharpen your reading, writing and other intellectual skills to even- tually take an active role in society.
That\u2019s why a core curriculum is valuable; it helps direct you toward learning what is es- sential for you to lead a rewarding life as a
Catholic in a democratic society. If you don\u2019t learn these basics in college, you are unlikely to learn them later in life.
Accreditation is very important. Problems can result down the road if a student graduates from an unaccredited college. In applying to
that their undergraduate work is not fully ac- ceptable at the college to which they are ap- plying.
A few colleges in thisGui d e are not yet accredited because they are new and accredi- tation can take several years. There is a stan- dard process that an aspiring college must follow. The good news is that once accredita- tion is granted, it applies retroactively. We are impressed by the progress that the not-yet- accredited colleges in thisGui d e have made,
Absolutely. It is not unusual for dedicated, or- thodox Catholic laypeople to found or direct a college.
The key is how closely the college em- braces Ex corde Ecclesiae. Does it, for instance, require the theology professors to receive them an d at um from the local bishop? Is the college\u2019s commitment to Church teachings
According to the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, \u201cThem an d at um is fundamentally an acknowledgement by church authority that a Catholic professor of a theological discipline is teaching within the full communion of the Catholic Church.\u201d
According to Canon Law, every Catholic theology professor must receive them an d at um from his local bishop. Catholic colleges, how- ever, are not obligated to require them and a -
Students seeking assurance of the ortho- doxy of theology professors should consider colleges that voluntarily require them and a -
ings. A college\u2019s purpose is to seek and teach truth; at a Catholic college, the Catholic faith is recognized as truth from God revealed to us through Scripture, Christ and the Church.
Academic freedom protects faculty from interference when they seek or teach truth ac- cording to the methods proper to their aca- demic discipline. Academic freedom also pro- tects the truths of Faith from those who have no recognized theological expertise but who would publicly undermine Catholic teaching. In his address to Catholic educators (found in the Appendix), Pope Benedict notes that the crisis of Truth is rooted in a crisis of Faith.
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