Catholic Universities Are Set Apart by Their Belief in God

Daily Herald (Arlington Heights, IL), May 3, 2012 | Go to article overview

Catholic Universities Are Set Apart by Their Belief in God


Did you ever wonder what the difference was between a Catholic university and a public (nonsectarian) university, and what they have in common?

Certainly, funding mechanisms are different. Usually, the size of the campuses vary, with the publics being significantly larger. Governance structures also differ.

On the flip side, there are many commonalities, from the curriculum to the credentials of the faculty to diverse student populations. Algebra taught at a public institution is the same as algebra taught at a Catholic institution. Academic departments and structure are similar as are the major courses of study.

In fact, even a sacramental life may be experienced at a public institution through the valuable work of the Newman Centers.

It almost seems that the differences are slight and the commonalties much greater. In fact, if one were blindfolded and put into the middle of a campus, she would be hard pressed to discern whether she had landed at a public or a Catholic institution -- if all there is to the differences and commonalties are what we just described.

In fact, there is a fundamental difference that is so vast it should create a chasm between the two types of institutions. This fundamental difference has little to do with the size of the campus, the credentials of faculty, the breadth and scope of the curriculum, the diversity of the students, or the governance structure. Rather, it has everything to do with the core belief that God exists.

As humans, we are confronted by a world that is constantly changing yet somehow remains constant. What is permanent? What does not change? For a university founded on Catholic beliefs and doctrine, that permanence, or in the words of the metaphysician, "really real," is God -- the Divine Permanence.

This God is knowable in and through creation and is the ultimate Truth Itself. Through time, humanity knows more and more about Truth Itself.

Universities are all about "knowledge." When linked and subordinated to the basic belief that God exists and is knowable through revelation and creation, the approach to acquiring and disseminating knowledge become the differentiator between a Catholic university and a public university. …

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