ND Prof: Notre Dame is Not a Catholic University
Dr. Alfred Freddoso, Notre Dame’s John and Jean Oesterle Professor of Thomistic Studies, wrote the introduction to Professor Charles E. Rice’s book What Happened to Notre Dame? detailing why he believes Notre Dame is not so much a Catholic university anymore but a campus that is merely “tolerant” of Catholicism.
According to The Sycamore Trust, an organization committed to restoring Notre Dame’s Catholic identity, Freddoso wrote that Notre Dame remains “a wonderful place in may ways” and it “in some obvious sense Catholic.” But he adds, “what it is not … is a Catholic university, i.e., an institution where the Catholic faith pervades and enriches, and is enriched by, the intellectual life on campus.” He said that at this point it is “a university that is more open to (or, at worst, more tolerant of) Catholic faith and practice than any other national private university I know of.”
[T]he university’s steadily intensifying and often frustrated aspiration to be regarded as a major player in the American educational scene; the concomitant segmentation of faith from reason; the deterioration of the core curriculum into a series of disjointed “course distribution requirements” guided by no comprehensive conception of what an educated Catholic should know; the easy transition from a faculty dominated by “progressive” Catholics to a faculty more and more dominated by people ignorant of the intellectual ramifications of the Catholic faith; the concomitant marginalization of faculty who professed allegiance to, or even admiration for, the present-day successors of the Apostles; and a succession of high-level administrators lacking in a philosophical vision of Catholic higher education and intent on diffusing throughout the university a pragmatic mentality at once both bureaucratic and corporate.
In addition, there had been a series of “incidents” — stretching from the Land O’Lakes Statement and the university’s coziness with the Rockefeller Foundation in the mid-1960’s to the tiresomely recurring debate over the Vagina Monologues in the first decade of the 21st century — which had served to put more and more strain on the relationship between the university and the Church it claimed to be serving and even to be “doing the thinking for,” to cite one astonishingly presumptuous catchphrase used by the university to promote itself.
Freddoso writes that his words “might sound appalling to some” but he adds that those who call Notre Dame a “Catholic university” are mistaken. He allows that the campus has a “rich sacramental life,” retreats, bible studies as well as wonderful statues and of course, the grotto but he argues that Catholicism essentially ends at the classroom door, making an uneccesary separation of faith and reason.
You can read more at The Sycamore Trust. And there’s also information available about how to purchase the book. sycamoretrust.org/bulletins/120802.php?utm_source=Separation+of+Church+and+State&utm_campaign=Insiders%27+View&utm_medium=email