MANASSAS, Virginia, MAY 19, 2009 (Zenit.org).- The mark of a good Catholic university is success at turning out model Christians who are good citizens, says Cardinal Francis Arinze.
The cardinal, former prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, affirmed this May 10 in a commencement address he delivered at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire.
He said that a Catholic college that adopts an attitude of “courageous creativity and rigorous fidelity” contributes much to promoting a “healthy synthesis between faith and culture in society,” the Cardinal Newman Society reported.
Cardinal Arinze contended that a Catholic institution of higher learning should teach its students “to appreciate that moral rules of right and wrong apply also to science, technology, politics, trade and commerce, and indeed to all human endeavors.”
“In the complicated world of today, where all kinds of ideas are struggling for the right of citizenship, a university student needs a clear and viable orientation on the relationship between religion and life,” he continued. “The Catholic college or university is ideally positioned to help him see the light and equip himself for a significant contribution in society.”
The cardinal recognized that universities need to offer premium intellectual formation, but he affirmed that formation in upright behavior is also a need.
“But what does it profit us if a student is an intellectual giant but a moral baby,” he asked, “if he or she can shoot out mathematical or historical facts like a computer but is unfortunately a problem for the parents, corrosive acid among companions in the college, a drug addict and sexual pervert, a disgrace to the school, a waste-pipe in the place of work and ‘Case No. 23’ for the criminal police? It is clear that intellectual development is not enough.”
The former Vatican official acknowledged that defending morality can bring difficult consequences. “A person who holds that certain actions, like direct abortion, are always objectively wrong, is regarded as ‘judgmental,’ or as imposing his views on others,” he said.
But, citing the teachings of Benedict XVI, the cardinal added: “The exercise of freedom in pursuit of the truth is very much a part of integral education. If a Catholic college or university does not help in this way, should we not say that it has failed in one of its important roles?”
“If a Catholic college or university answers to its vocation in the ways outlined above, then it will be educating, forming and releasing into society model citizens who will be a credit to their families, their college, the Church and the state,” the cardinal stated. “It will prepare for us members of Congress or the Senate who will not say ‘I am a Catholic, but …’ but rather those who will say ‘I am a Catholic, and therefore …'”