Newman Society leader says ‘faithful’ Catholic colleges set pace in academia

(NCR Online) After 24 years of heaping criticism on Catholic colleges and universities for their alleged secularization, the Cardinal Newman Society now envisions “a new generation of faithful Catholic colleges” forging a new path of fidelity to church teaching.

At a day-long forum on “Crisis: Catholic Higher Education and the Next Generation” that drew an audience of about 200 people in the basement of Arlington’s Cathedral of St. Thomas More Jan. 28, Society founder Patrick Reilly claimed to see the secular trend reversing.

The event was co-sponsored by the Newman Society, based in Manassas, Va., which had a $2.17 million budget in 2015, and the Institute of Catholic Culture, located in nearby McLean, Va., which reported $510,574 in income the same year.

Reilly renewed his long-standing criticism of a statement issued 50 years ago by Catholic university leaders at a University of Notre Dame conference center in Land O’Lakes, Wis. “It’s hard to imagine a simple document could have such a devastating impact on Catholic higher education,” he said. But in its wake, “most Catholic colleges and universities greatly secularized and generally lost their moorings. That’s the crisis that we refer to in this conference today.”

Twenty-seven years after publication of Ex Corde Ecclesiae by Pope John Paul II — in his words, “the Vatican’s repudiation of what was wrong with the Land O’Lakes statement” — Reilly argued that “still there are many Catholic colleges today that do not make a very serious effort to implement” the papal vision of what a Catholic college should be. [More]


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