The University of Notre Dame’s decision to award President Obama an honorary degree pried open much-needed space in the American public square for a more robust view of Catholic reason.
Looking to Obama’s July 10 meeting with Pope Benedict at the Vatican, the key question is: “Will the pope keep open this new space or will he shut it down, returning the church to its dominant closed ecclesial reason of the last decades?
By “reason” I refer to the processes by which we arrive at what is true. At issue are two processes by which we arrive through reason at truth. The dispute at Notre Dame witnessed a very public clash of these two differing Catholic conceptions of reason and for the first time in many years in the United States, the recently reigning view of reason within the Catholic hierarchy fared badly in a big public battle.