In 1972, the Venerable Fulton Sheen said something like, “I recommend that my relatives send their college-bound children to secular colleges where they will have to fight for their faith, rather than to Catholic colleges where it will be stolen from them.” Catholics in America stand witness to so-called “catholic” colleges as onlookers once looked on the naked emperor without noticing his nakedness. Most colleges that dare to call themselves “catholic” are betraying the Magisterium and the mission of Christ to at least some degree, and many to a mind-boggling extent. Their most visible signs of infidelities come in the forms of supporting anti-life public figures, anti-human education and anti-family ideologies concerning marriage.
The madness that has crept into the modern world is propagated by a system of education suffering centuries of decline since at least the Protestant Reformation. Luther’s revolt against authority has divided the Body of Christ in tens of thousands of ways. Wars and revolutions followed and far too many have died a disobedient death. The warning cries came out of the Church from nearly the beginning, but concerning the decline in education, Blessed John Henry Newman memorialized the roots of the educational crisis in the middle of the nineteenth century with his master work The Idea of the University.
Newman traces the modern educational debacle first to the elimination of theology from a university education that followed the philosophical denial of universals posited by Nominalism at the very end of the Scholastic period. As humanism emerged and began to flourish, the men of the West abandoned the objective standard of truth and adopted the mantra, “man is the measure of all things.” This ushered in the Age of Reason, but reason untethered from objective truth soon turns in on itself.
By the middle of the eighteenth century philosophical considerations in the universities were steadily deteriorating. By the middle of the nineteenth century Newman lamented that the world was turning almost exclusively to the “men in the white coats” for their authority and answers to life’s most pressing questions. Institutions that were once morally and intellectually esteemed traded in their academic robes for lab coats as the age of the untethered spirit swept through the schools. The fatal blow to the universities in the West is that they had become bereft of the two most important areas of study, theology and philosophy.
Today, millions of American youth attend universities and countless ideologically driven classes deprived of truth and devoid of moral order. University faculties are now generally comprised vicious ideological bullies peddling materialist and licentious agendas with the deliberate intentions to dismantle the order of society for the sake of contrived “equality.” We might expect this from a country in decline and from the world ruled by the principalities and powers of darkness, but in our beloved Catholic institutions there is no cause to promote the immorality of secular humanism the way the secular universities do. Tragically, many of our “catholic” colleges are doing just in order to compete with the secular world and they are doing so in many instances under the false guise of “academic freedom.”
The dreadful Land of Lakes conference in 1967 marked a treacherous break between Catholic truth and many Catholic institutions of education. Led by Fr. Theodore Hesburgh of Notre Dame, academia at many Catholic schools claimed their right to follow their secular counterparts at the expense of Catholic truth and the descent into darkness has been swift and steady ever since. Shamefully the professors who signed the Land of Lakes declaration claiming the right to be disobedient to the Magisterium did so on the false ground of “academic freedom,” an oxymoron if ever there was one.
Perhaps since the time of Plato’s Academy, it was understood in the West that academia was the pursuit of the good, true and beautiful. The freedom sought by real academics was freedom from error and falsehood, a noble freedom to be sure. The modern notion of academic freedom claimed by far too many “catholic” schools is the freedom to choose the false, the bad and the ugly. The Land of Lakes declaration was primarily about the “freedom” to defy Church teaching on contraception. This monstrous defiance has multiplied to now include many of the issues prevalent in the Culture of Death concerning, education, the sanctity of life and marriage.
Cardinal Newman Society Responds
On May 11, 2016, the Cardinal Newman Society, along with twenty-nine Catholic pro-life leaders published a letter calling Catholic Colleges to reject the culture of death. The letter is prompted by the fact that in recent years many high profile Catholic Colleges have invited and honored pro-abortions leaders such as Cecile Richards, Bill Clinton, Wendy Davis, Barrack Obama, Joe Biden and many more proponents of the Culture of Death. As scandalous as these public approbations of pro-death public figures are, they are only the tip of the iceberg when it comes to the infidelity of many Catholic colleges.
A less visible, but deeper issue is that most Catholic colleges have adopted methods, curricula and ideologies of the secular universities that directly contradict not only the Catholic Church, but the Culture of Life to which Pope St. John Paul has explicitly called us. Instead of pursuing truth, goodness and beauty in recognition of the fact that God made us in His image and likeness, the modern school denies the Christian anthropology and even the philosophical anthropology to treat students as evolved apes at best and useful machines at worst. Methods and curricula have been stripped of their intrinsic worth and the newest highest good is an “open mindedness” that is open to all manner of falsehood, but closed to truth. Finally, political correctness has been taken to such absurd lengths that speech codes are designed to protect self-esteem at the expense of the truth.
The authentic Catholic school striving for a Catholic Identity does not have the luxury to hide behind such vapid expressions as “academic freedom,” “open mindedness,” or political correctness in order to avoid truth goodness and beauty. It is a scandal to faithful students and families alike when a Catholic institution promotes ideologies coming from the secular humanist tradition. The authentic Catholic college adores Christ, venerates Mary and honors the saints. The authentic Catholic school is in accord with the Traditions and Magisterium of Holy Mother Church and this is contradicted by such schools that honor secular humanists who promote the Culture of Death.
Read the Letter
The Cardinal Newman Society and Catholic pro-life leaders across the nation are calling out unfaithful colleges to withdraw their allegiance to the world of human respect and return it first to the City of God where Christ’s mission is carried out and second to the faithful families who entrust the intellectual and moral formation of their very children to them. It is truly a scandal beyond description for so many Catholic institutions of learning to betray faith and family as they have over the past several generations.
Please read this call to arms and reach out to some of the organizations represented by the signers. The letter explains that “Catholic colleges compromise their Catholic identity and potentially harm the spiritual well-being of their students when they give honors and platforms to those whose public statements and actions may cause scandal. College administrators” Beyond this scandal we must demand that our Catholic Colleges abandon the ideologies of the world concerning education, abortion, marriage, gender and many other ideologies besides. We are Catholic and we desperately need our teachers to be faithful to God and neighbor by adhering to the Magisterium and Tradition of Holy Mother Church as they prosecute their duty to support a parent’s responsibility to educate their children.
We need to remember but one quote from Jesus to get this started. Jesus explicitly tells us in Luke 17:2 that “It would be better for him if a millstone were hung round his neck and he were cast into the sea, than that he should cause one of these little ones to sin.”
Catholic Colleges are bound by duty to God to teach our children the good the true and the beautiful. It seems most Catholic Colleges have lost their way and now teach the bad, the false and the ugly just like their secular counterparts. We cannot go with the world on these moral and intellectual treacheries because the eternal disposition of our souls is at stake. Please read the letter and respond with a letter of your own and protect your children from institutions who continue to choose to be unfaithful.