Catholic University of America; Faithful Institution, Model School

The Washington Times (Washington, DC), April 15, 2008 | Go to article overview

Catholic University of America; Faithful Institution, Model School


Byline: Patrick J. Reilly, SPECIAL TO THE WASHINGTON TIMES

The second of two parts.

It's not so much a triumph of Pope Benedict XVI himself, but more a victory for the Catholic Church and the Holy Spirit. But when the pope visits the Catholic University of America on Thursday to address Catholic college presidents and diocesan officials, there will be much cause for celebration.

There's no dispute that the Vatican has long had serious concerns - and not without reason - about the secularization of most American Catholic colleges and universities over the past 40 years. Many of this country's great Protestant universities have totally secularized, including the Ivy League schools, and the drift from faithful Catholic teaching at many Catholic colleges and universities is still quite evident.

But the Catholic University of America (CUA) in Northeast Washington is different - so much so that the Cardinal Newman Society has identified it as one of 21 Catholic institutions in North America that are models of faithful Catholic higher education. They are profiled in the Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College (www.TheNewmanGuide.com), which includes two other area colleges, Christendom College in Front Royal, Va., and Mount St. Mary's University in Emmitsburg, Md.

Pope Benedict's televised presence at CUA will bring attention to the great strides made by the church since his predecessor, Pope John Paul II, issued Ex corde Ecclesiae in 1990 to set out a clear vision for Catholic colleges and universities. The world's attention will be drawn to a Catholic university that gets it right.

Certainly the pope's choice to visit CUA has much to do with the university's unique status as the American bishops' university. Whereas most Catholic colleges and universities in the U.S. have cut legal ties with their founding dioceses and religious orders, CUA is governed by a board of both bishops and laypeople, and Washington Archbishop Donald Wuerl is chancellor. The theology and canon law departments are specially credentialed to award pontifical degrees.

But there's more to CUA that deserves notice. While it remains a recognized leader among academic institutions with a variety of undergraduate programs, it is also an outstanding example of fidelity to the church.

It was not always so.

"Catholic University for many years, beginning in the late 1960s, had developed the reputation of being the home of dissent in the Catholic Church," acknowledged CUA President David O'Connell in a 2006 interview with CUA Magazine. …

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