National Catholic Reporter

The Independent News Source

Distinctly Catholic

Q & A: Msgr. Kevin Irwin

 | 

This week, Q & A is examining Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the 1990 encyclical by Pope John Paul II on Catholic higher education. Today we hear from Msgr. Kevin Irwin, Dean of the School of Theology and Religious Studies at the Catholic University of America.

The question: What have we learned from the implementation of Ex Corde?

Msgr. Irwin: I have been privileged to serve for a quarter of a century at The Catholic University of America located “inside the Beltway” in Washington, D.C. Therefore it should come as no surprise that the processes of government, the way debates take place in the Congress and the wording of the lobbyists’ appeals eventually would influence how I appreciate national debates and matters of international import, including university and church life.

Ex Corde & Catholic Identity

 | 

No concept is more clearly identified with Pope John Paul II’s encyclical “Ex corde Ecclesiae” than that of “Catholic identity.” As discussed yesterday, this coming Sunday, the Feast of the Assumption, marks the 20th anniversary of Ex corde Ecclesiae, which seems especially fitting because one of the difficulties in that document’s implementation has been a hijacking – an assumption, if you will – of the meaning of that phrase, Catholic identity.

To some, the Catholic identity of a university means little more than banning pro-choice speakers from Catholic universities. Now, mind you, I do think there is something to be said for holding that there are things which are beyond the pale of a Catholic campus, ideas that do not deserve a Catholic forum, certain points of view that can and should be verboten. I do not think a representative of Planned Parenthood should be given an honor, or a platform, at a Catholic University: The group is in the abortion business, proud of their work, and whatever other good works they do, their actual participation in providing abortions is the kind of evil that has no place at any Catholic institution.

Blast From the Past: Compton's Encyclopedia, 1970 Edition

 | 

As many of you know, I am working on a biography of the Rev. Jerry Falwell. One of the themes of his sermons, before, during and after the Moral Majority period of his career, was that America was losing its soul, changing in ways that were inimical to the Christian faith. To give you an idea of how much things have, in fact, changed, all this week I am taking advantage of my sojourn in Connecticut to peruse the encyclopedias I was given as a boy. They are the Compton’s Encyclopedia, 1970 edition, and they were designed for students so they are a little undemanding, but they clearly show how different the world looked back then, and it was that world which Rev. Falwell wanted to hang on to. By way of example, the following entry for “Christmas” might not survive in later, more politically correct editions.

Yahoo Watch: Inside Catholic

 | 

Ya know, one of the things they should teach in Blogging 101 is never, ever make analogies to Nazi Germany, because they say more about the intellectual desperation of the person making the analogy than they do about the situation being described.

I knew there would be something histrionic in store when I went to InsideCatholic.com, saw a picture of two hands intertwined, each with a rainbow ring on it, and the caption, “This Just In: Civilization Ends.” But, even I was surprised to see a reference to Weimar in the opening graph.

To be sure, I, like many, was disappointed in the scope and logic of the California court decision regarding gay marriage. But, Weimar?

Q & A: Barbara McCrabb from the USCCB

 | 

All this week, we will be asking Catholic educators about the implementation of Ex Corde Ecclesiae. Today, we hear from Barbara McCrabb, assistant director for higher education of the Secretariat of Catholic Education of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The question: What have we learned from the implementation of Ex Corde Ecclesiae?

Barbara McCrabb: When Pope John Paul II launched a conversation on the nature and purpose of the Catholic university in 1990, he said each stakeholder played an integral part in the conversation. He looked to faculty, students, administrators, trustees, sponsoring religious congregations, the bishop, and his collaborators in the local Church to examine four essential characteristics of Catholic universities:


  1. Christian inspiration;

  2. On-going reflection, in the light of faith, upon human knowledge and the contribution to that knowledge through research;

  3. Fidelity to the Christian message, and;
  4. Institutional commitment to the service of others.

He affirmed Catholic higher education’s irreplaceable task and indispensable mission.

Tea Party in Connecticut

 | 

Greetings from Tea Party country. Most people think of Connecticut and they think of the wealthy suburbs of New York City, where David Letterman and Joanne Woodward live. Or they think of the old shore towns, Old Saybrook, Old Lyme, Groton, Mystic and Stonington, where “old money” homes are elegant and understated, a far cry from the mansions of the Hamptons on Long Island.

Ex Corde Ecclesiae Turns Twenty

 | 

Next Sunday, the Feast of the Assumption, will mark the 20th anniversary of Pope John Paul II’s encyclical letter on Catholic colleges and universities, Ex Corde Ecclesiae. The document is most remembered, and was most controversial, on account of its emphasis on Catholic identity, a subject we will consider at greater length tomorrow. Today, I want to look at a separate issue that Ex Corde deals with, namely, the role of theology in modern intellectual life. Additionally, all this week, in our Q & A segment, we will be discussing Ex Corde and its implementation with a host of prominent Catholic educators.

Pages

Subscribe to Distinctly Catholic

Feature-flag_GSR_start-reading.jpg

NCR Email Alerts

 

In This Issue

July 18-31, 2014

07-18-2014_0.jpg

Not all of our content is online. Subscribe to receive all the news and features you won't find anywhere else.