It´s Time for Renewal of Catholic Universities, Cardinal Dulles Says

Schools Have Been «Almost Embarrassed» by the Faith, He Laments

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WASHINGTON, D.C., NOV. 14, 2001 ( Cardinal Avery Dulles called on Catholic colleges and universities to cease being «apologetic, almost embarrassed» by their religious identity.

The first U.S. theologian to be named a cardinal said that Catholic colleges should challenge their secular counterparts «to show how it is possible to find and transmit the truth if they neglect or marginalize the word of God.»

His remarks, at a weekend banquet honoring him, came at a time when the Vatican and the U.S. bishops have placed high priority on ensuring that Catholic colleges strengthen their religious identities.

Cardinal Dulles was the recipient of the annual John Henry Newman Award for distinguished service to Catholic higher education. The award was presented Saturday by the Cardinal Newman Society, a group whose aim is to reverse the tide of secularism at many of America´s Catholic universities.

Among the 300 guests were Cardinal William Keeler of Baltimore; Archbishop William Levada of San Francisco; and Archbishop John Myers of Newark, New Jersey.

«In the United States, Catholic universities have been very apologetic, almost embarrassed, by their obligation to adhere to the faith of the Church,» Cardinal Dulles said.

«Surrounded by powerful institutions constructed on principles of metaphysical and religious agnosticism, the Catholic universities of this nation have too long been on the defensive,» he said. «They have tried too hard to prove that they are not committed to any truth that cannot be established by objective scientific scholarship.

«The time has come for them to regain their confidence and proudly proclaim the faith that animates them. Shifting the burden of proof to the secular institutions, they should challenge the other universities to defend themselves and to show how it is possible to find and transmit the fullness of truth if they neglect or marginalize the word of God.»

The Newman Society also presented its Ex Corde Ecclesiae Award for significant contributions to the renewal of Catholic higher education to Mary Cunningham Agee, founder and executive director of The Nurturing Network; John Galten, former director of the St. Ignatius Institute at the University of San Francisco; and the student editors and founders of Crossroads, an independent Catholic newspaper at Boston College.

The Newman Society works with The Nurturing Network on efforts to improve pro-life education and policies at Catholic colleges and universities, including programs to aid pregnant students on more than 150 Catholic campuses.

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