Thursday, January 30, 2014

Pope Tells Notre Dame to 'Defend, Preserve, Advance’ Catholic Identity

In a powerful statement encouraging fidelity and strong Catholic identity in Catholic higher education, Pope Francis today urged the University of Notre Dame to be an “uncompromising witness… to the Church’s moral teaching” and to resist “efforts, from whatever quarter, to dilute that indispensable witness,” according to a translation by Vatican Radio.

The Holy Father’s words came today as he met with a Notre Dame delegation celebrating the University’s new Rome Center. Although Vatican Radio does not report whether Notre Dame President Father John Jenkins, C.S.C., was present, a photo of Father Jenkins with Pope Francis accompanying the Vatican Radio translation suggests that he was.

Recalling the University’s founding Catholic mission in “service to the Church and American society,” Pope Francis said, “And this is important: its identity, as it was intended from the beginning. To defend it, to preserve it and to advance it!”

In my Exhortation on the Joy of the Gospel, I stressed the missionary dimension of Christian discipleship, which needs to be evident in the lives of individuals and in the workings of each of the Church’s institutions. This commitment to “missionary discipleship” ought to be reflected in a special way in Catholic universities (cf. Evangelii Gaudium, 132-134), which by their very nature are committed to demonstrating the harmony of faith and reason and the relevance of the Christian message for a full and authentically human life. Essential in this regard is the uncompromising witness of Catholic universities to the Church’s moral teaching, and the defense of her freedom, precisely in and through her institutions, to uphold that teaching as authoritatively proclaimed by the magisterium of her pastors. [BOOM!] It is my hope that the University of Notre Dame will continue to offer unambiguous testimony to this aspect of its foundational Catholic identity, especially in the face of efforts, from whatever quarter, to dilute that indispensable witness.
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