Catholic identity or education: Are the top Catholic universities falsely rated by secular standards?

Catholic identity or education: Are the top Catholic universities falsely rated by secular standards?

By Kenya Sinclair
Catholic Online

A list of the top 40 traditional Catholic and Jesuit colleges in America was created, but were they rated fairly?

‘Any review that purports to take the Catholic faith into consideration when evaluating colleges must do so with the understanding of what the Church envisions for Catholic universities.’

LOS ANGELES, CA (Catholic Online) – Newsmax revealed their top forty Catholic and Jesuit colleges in America, but what were their standards?

The United States contains over 300 Catholic and Jesuit colleges and Universities, twenty-eight of which are widely known as the “Great 28.” Those within the Great 28 cater to intellect, morality and spirituality while expanding services to serve others in local and national communities.

Newsmax specified they considered “subjective criteria, such as legacy and influence along with quantifiable measurements like class size, student-to-faculty ratio, and student retention rates” to choose their top 40 colleges.

The Cardinal Newman Society’s Adam Wilson, the managing editor of The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, believes the list does not accurately portray a college’s Catholic identity.

“Any review that purports to take the Catholic faith into consideration when evaluating colleges must do so with the understanding of what the Church envisions for Catholic universities,” Wilson explained.

One Newsmax representative told The Cardinal Newman Society that special consideration was given to “institutions that allow students to give back or care for others while growing spiritually,” but also that they “wanted the list to feature exceptional institutions that ‘strike the perfect balance between integrating faith and reason with a rigorous academic education.'”

In another questionable choice, most of the schools, with the exception of Georgetown University, which falls at number two on the list and is described to be “Based in its Jesuit affiliation, Georgetown teaches ‘cure personalis,’ or ‘care for the whole person,’ has been reported by the Newman Society to have “significant Catholic identity abuses.”

So terrible is Newsmax’s list that the Newman Society added that Georgetown University had a canon law petition filed against it due to several Catholic identity abuses. The petition demanded the University either remove its Catholic affiliation or restore its Catholic identity.

LifeSiteNews reports six of the institutions listed on Newmax’s top 40 list have inspired organizations dedicated to exposing Catholic identity issues and called for administrative action.

There are also documented cases in which several of the other schools diluted or entirely removed theology requirements in their core curriculum, have provided pro-abortion speakers and embraced gender ideology, despite each topic’s incompatibility with Church teachings.

Wilson added the apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, Ex corde Ecclesiae and the U.S. bishops’ application of the document are crucial elements in helping Catholic education institutions align their identity with the Church’s vision for education.

In closing, Wilson asked, “If the priorities and themes that the Church considers important are not valued when reviewing Catholic colleges, then why bother with Catholic colleges in the first place?”

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One comment on “Catholic identity or education: Are the top Catholic universities falsely rated by secular standards?

  1. Faithful Catholicism Dependent on Catholic Colleges, Says New York Times Columnist

    January 12, 2016, at 10:11 AM | By Kimberly Scharfenberger |

    An address by New York Times columnist Ross Douthat recently published on First Things touched on the formative role that Catholic universities play in shaping the next generation in the faith and argued that many Jesuit institutions have kowtowed to “liberal Catholicism” over the years, thereby neglecting their duty to instill authentic Catholic faith.

    Douthat’s address, “A Crisis of Conservative Catholicism,” given at First Things’ 28th Erasmus Lecture this past October, detailed the tension between “conservative Catholicism” and “liberal Catholicism,” which he said often aligns with popular social mores and demands change from the Church on varying cultural issues. The “liberal” view of Catholicism, argued Douthat, has a history of taking root in Catholic universities, with negative consequences for the faithful.

    At many Jesuit institutions across the country, Catholic identity abuses and obeisance to secular values abound and “conservative Catholicism is often still a counterculture,” Douthat noted. This is problematic for the future of the faith, because “far more young American Catholics graduate from colleges and universities ‘in the Jesuit tradition’ than graduate from, say, Thomas Aquinas [College] or Wyoming Catholic College or Christendom [College] or [Franciscan University of] Steubenville,” said Douthat, referencing institutions recommended in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College as examples of authentically Catholic universities.

    “We’ve seen too many times how so many other Catholic colleges downplay their Catholic identities when recruiting students,” lamented Adam Wilson, managing editor of The Newman Guide.

    Conversely, faithful Catholic institutions “boldly advertise what they have to offer and attract students that hunger to receive cultivation in truth and virtue,” he said.
    “Catholic universities stand at a critical junction in the lives of young Catholics,” Wilson continued. “It is more imperative than ever that Catholic universities instill in students knowledge of the timeless truths of the faith and formation in virtue that can withstand pressure to conform.”

    Douthat cited widespread disagreement among Catholics about key issues such as birth control, cohabitation, and divorce and remarriage. Among these issues and others, “dissent from the Church’s view of marriage is pervasive,” said Douthat.

    “[A]t the elite and grassroots levels alike, there remains a very large constituency for a different direction, a more liberal turn within the Church,” said Douthat. This constituency is loyal to “the cultural fashions” and has “had its way in many Catholic institutions — seminaries and religious orders, Catholic universities and diocesan bureaucracies — for many years,” he stated.

    And this branch of liberal Catholicism is “often a large part of the Catholic experience for the average Mass-goer and Catholic family,” Douthat pointed out. “[T]he fact that many conservatives think of some of these institutions as functionally post-Catholic doesn’t make them any less integral to the Church as an organism, a culture.”

    The countercultural status of conservative Catholicism at many mainstream Catholic institutions was highlighted this past November, when Douthat came under fire by a number of theologians at Catholic colleges for his New York Times column which criticized moral confusion and ambiguity in the Synod on the Family in Rome. “Mr. Douthat has no professional qualifications for writing on the subject,” theologians wrote in a letter to the editor.

    The Cardinal Newman Society criticized many of the signees for being themselves without “professional qualifications” — namely, the mandatum, which is required for theologians under canon law and involves a recognition from their local bishop of their fidelity to Catholic doctrine. Many Catholic colleges do not require their theologians to receive the mandatum and many theologians refuse to divulge whether they have received it.

    “[I]t is preposterous that theologians would demand ‘professional qualifications’ from a journalist, while their own profession apparently lacks compliance with the Church’s canon law,” wrote Newman Society President Patrick Reilly.

    Moreover, some of the signees overtly oppose Church teaching, including a Georgetown University professor whose theological teaching was criticized as ambiguous and misleading by the U.S. bishops’ doctrinal committee; a Jesuit priest from Boston College who testified against a Massachusetts amendment defining marriage as between one man and one woman; and a former staff member of the University of San Diego, who defended theologian Tina Beattie, despite her opposition to Church teaching on abortion and same-sex marriage.

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