Gravissimum Educationis 10

Scriptorium10. Catholic Colleges and Universities

The Church is concerned also with schools of a higher level, especially colleges and universities.

And so, the council bishops turn their gaze to higher education, Catholic style.

In those schools dependent on her she intends that by their very constitution individual subjects be pursued according to their own principles, method, and liberty of scientific inquiry, in such a way that an ever deeper understanding in these fields may be obtained and that, as questions that are new and current are raised and investigations carefully made according to the example of the doctors of the Church and especially of St. Thomas Aquinas,(Cf. Paul VI’s allocution to the International Thomistic Congress, Sept. 10, 1965: L’Osservatore Romano, Sept. 13-14, 1965.) there may be a deeper realization of the harmony of faith and science.

“Harmony” and “faith” and “science” don’t often converge in a sentence, but the council seems genuinely optimistic. The aim being: 

Thus there is accomplished a public, enduring and pervasive influence of the Christian mind in the furtherance of culture and the students of these institutions are molded into (women and) men truly outstanding in their training, ready to undertake weighty responsibilities in society and witness to the faith in the world.(Cf. Pius XII’s allocution to teachers and students of French Institutes of Higher Catholic Education, Sept. 21, 1950: Discourses and Radio Messages, 12, pp. 219-221; letters to the 22nd congress of Pax Romana, Aug. 12, 1952: Discourses and Radio Messages, 14, pp. 567-569; John XXIII’s allocution to the Federation of Catholic Universities, April 1, 1959: Discourses, Messages and Conversations, 1, Rome, 1960, pp. 226-229; Paul VI’s allocution to the Academic Senate of the Catholic University of Milan, April 5, 1964: Encyclicals and Discourses of Paul VI, 2, Rome, 1964, pp. 438-443.)

An aside in the middle of a section treating the sciences:

In Catholic universities where there is no faculty of sacred theology there should be established an institute or chair of sacred theology in which there should be lectures suited to lay students.

Then we move back:

Since science advances by means of the investigations peculiar to higher scientific studies, special attention should be given in Catholic universities and colleges to institutes that serve primarily the development of scientific research.

The sacred synod heartily recommends that Catholic colleges and universities be conveniently located in different parts of the world, but in such a way that they are outstanding not for their numbers but for their pursuit of knowledge.

As opposed for their pursuit of athletic fame and (especially) fortune.

Matriculation should be readily available to students of real promise, even though they be of slender means, especially to students from the newly emerging nations.

Scholarships based on need.

Since the destiny of society and of the Church itself is intimately linked with the progress of young people pursuing higher studies,(Cf. Pius XII’s allocution to the academic senate and students of the University of Rome, June 15, 1952: Discourses and Radio Messages, 14, p. 208: “The direction of today’s society principally is placed in the mentality and hearts of the universities of today.”) the pastors of the Church are to expend their energies not only on the spiritual life of students who attend Catholic universities, but, solicitous for the spiritual formation of all their children, they must see to it, after consultations between bishops, that even at universities that are not Catholic there should be associations and university centers under Catholic auspices in which priests, religious and laity, carefully selected and prepared, should give abiding spiritual and intellectual assistance to the youth of the university.

Campus ministry is a concern of pastors. Assuming the local college has been left high and dry by diocesan beancounters, the local parish retains the responsibility given here. I’m heartened also that campus ministers, “carefully selected and prepared,” also offer “intellectual assistance” to students. One might interpret that as at least partially a matter of mentoring and apprenticeship. The bishops seem to favor the very best of the clergy, religious, and laity for this apostolate.

Whether in Catholic universities or others, young people of greater ability who seem suited for teaching or research should be specially helped and encouraged to undertake a teaching career.




About catholicsensibility

Todd lives in the Pacific Northwest, serving a Catholic parish as a lay minister.
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