Thursday, April 10, 2008

Let's hope it goes somewhat differently...


The rockin' new nd.edu just today updated its carousel of videos. I don't usually spend my time watching them, but tonight they caught my eye...

The main feature, probably until next week, is "Benedict in America," a short Q&A video with ND experts on the papal visit.

It begins with different questions about why the pope is visiting America, what is significant about the Church in the US, what Benedict might say to President Bush about the war or about immigration, etc.

But more than half-way through the video, I was left wondering: What about that visit he's going to have with the presidents of Catholic universities in America? Why aren't we asking the 'experts' about that? What might he say to them? Will it be different than the praising words about Notre Dame spoken by Benedict in St. Peter's Square just a few years ago?

Three-quarters of the way through the video, my question was answered.

"Why did the pope decide to meet with Catholic university presidents and educational leaders?" appears on the screen.

Prof. Lawrence Cunningham, of the Department of Theology, responded:

He himself is an academic, he is a true intellectual. That is, he reads widely in a number of different languages. He knows contemporary philosophy, he knows political theory, he knows theology. He’s a student of history. He thinks that the universities in America, some of them—and I would exclude ND from that list—have not really put their strongest emphasis on maintaining the Catholic character of their universities. He’s probably going to say something about that. I suspect he will not scold the university presidents, but he will probably talk about this intimate connection between faith and reason and the role of catholic universities in the world of Catholicism today.


So you don't think he's been talking to his bishops in the US about the goings-on at the pre-eminent Catholic university in America?

Notre Dame stands 'above the pack' of American Catholic universities in many ways--but she in no way enjoys an inviolable position. To be in open denial about recent events on this campus and their repercussions seems to be indicative of the hubris often displayed by students, faculty and administrators under the Golden Dome, especially when it comes to ND's relationship to the universal Church and Her hierarchy.

3 comments:

Brandon said...

No doubt Notre Dame is being a bit arrogant about this. Let's not forget that while Cardinal George declined to criticize Notre Dame for some of its recent wanderings, he did call the 'academic event' an embarassment.

Anonymous said...

I don't think the Pope has any complaints, anymore, about the ND theology department. However, as he is an intellectual, he may take the time to point out to Father VM, etc., and other embarrassments that said Father is not. First Things takes a couple of swipes at ND in their latest issue. ND like its best known team, has no D to them.

Greer Hannan said...

Cunningham was talking about putting our strongest emphasis on maintaining our Catholic character, and I think he has a point. At least from the rhetoric which both sides of the Vagina Monologues and Catholic faculty hiring debates present, it sounds as though both sides are constantly talking about how to live out our Catholic character. Very few people at Notre Dame come right out and say that they have no interest in Notre Dame maintaining its Catholic character. I've been struck by encountering lots of students studying this year at Trinity College Dublin with me from other Catholic/formerly Catholic universities in America who just chuckle when I talk about maintaining the Catholic character of our universities. It's not even on their RADAR anymore; they know it's a lost cause and they don't even care. Some have never heard of Ex Corde Ecclesiae and others insist that it's irrelevant. And our controversies at Notre Dame are small potatoes compared to the way the culutre of their campuses has shifted away from promoting a Catholic way of life. There's an important different here.