Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Land o' Lakes

I have a few observations and anecdotes to share today. I recall back when the election of 2008 was in full swing. Candidate Bob Barr (Libertarian) was visiting campus, and I was interested to see what would be said. A friend, who is not a Catholic, and I went to the talk, and afterwords he mentioned how cool it would be if they could get Obama to come to campus. (He was definitely not an Obama supporter, but would have been impressed). I responded by telling him there was no way the University would or even could allow that. As a Catholic school, I stated, they have a higher obligation which prevents them from giving someone such as President Obama a pulpit to speak from. I wish I had been correct.

I understand that the University has always invited Presidents of the United States to give commencemnt addresses, at least for a while. There is no reason whatsoever for that to necessarily continue.

I think it may all go back to the Land O' Lakes statement of 1967, perhaps the lowest point of American Catholicism (or Catholic Educatoin). This statement, which I read here, outlines what a bunch of the Catholic schools decided to think of themselves. Imagine what 1960's American Catholicism could come up with in that vein... The first paragraph states (with my emphasis)
The Catholic University today must be a university in the full modern sense of the word, with a strong commitment to and concern for academic excellence. To perform its teaching and research functions effectively 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. To say this is simply to assert that institutional autonomy and academic freedom are essential conditions of life and growth and indeed of survival for Catholic universities as for all universities.
Basically, that sentence summarized the gist of the document. We don't need no stinkin' Bishop (or Pope for that matter). In fact the distinciton that Catholic Universities are to have is only that "Catholicism is perceptibly present and effectively operative." Ex Corde Ecclesiae thoroughly rebukes these ideas, and it was my thought that this document was outdated, and no longer guided the thinking of the University administration. It would seem I am incorrect.

In fact, just a few weeks ago, I was speaking to a friend of mine, and I told him that Land O' Lakes was basically over, and this campus was really truly healing in its re-becoming Catholic. Again, it would seem my assumptions were a bit premature.

I will be praying for Bishop D'Arcy and Fr. Jenkins, and I hope you can do the same.

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