Yet another boring article defending academic freedom on the Catholic campus in anticipation of the Pope’s visit, this time from Patricia McGuire, president of Trinity College in Washington. Methinks they protest too much.
It seems to me in articles that attack dogmatic thinking while at the same time seeing academic freedom as something dogmatic that no one should dare dissent from to be rather ironic. But once again G.K. Chesterton says it best.
"In truth, there are only two kinds of people; those who accept dogma and know it, and those who accept dogma and don’t know it.
The problem is so many confuse liberty and freedom with license and that real freedom and liberty is "the right to do what we ought to do." If we believe in or perform any evil we are not truly free but enslaved. The modern idea of academic freedom is pure relativism and largely what gets promoted is not the truth. Without truth we can not be truly free. Jesus is the way, the truth, and the life and it was Satan who was called the father of lies. Catholic universities should be at the service of the truth and not the winds of theological and societal fads that will pass. Instead they have decided to not build on a firm foundation. Chesterton also complained that children would be taught with academic theories that were younger than they were and this prophet of modern times was right once again.
There is also always the sneering of orthodoxy, which simply means "right thinking." You would think that dissenters would be calling their ideas orthodoxy and to call those of us who fully accept Church teaching as heterodox. Maybe they are just honest enough not to do that.
I also found funny her use of Ex Corde Ecclesiae to try to support what she says and while this document certainly supports the valid sense of academic freedom, she conveniently does not mention the mandatum being required for those teaching theology. This in itself shows that academic freedom is not without bounds. She has the document backward for the most part and sees the culture as influencing the Gospel.
Pope Benedict will be doing his job when he addresses Catholic university presidents Thursday on our obligation to be faithful stewards of the Catholic intellectual tradition and the moral teachings of our faith. We academics do our job when we engage in critical analysis of those teachings in light of our Gospel tradition, contemporary research and cultural context.
A church with a brain is not afraid to ask itself the hard questions about the role of faith, moral teachings and theological exploration in contemporary life. This is what Ex Corde Ecclesiae calls us to do; this is what the pope will remind us is essential and what we will continue to do in our mission in Catholic higher education.
Ex Corde Ecclesiae does address cultural dialogue, but it is mainly about "offering the rich experience of the Church’s own culture" and also calls for a "fruitful dialogue between the Gospel and the culture." What she would put in the category of fruitful dialogue is more like a poisoned fruit. Defending the Vagina Monologues, "gay clubs", speakers who support abortion and other intrinsic evils is like telling Snow White to accept any apple givers that happen come to her door.
What they never seem to get is that the truth of what the Church teaches will never change. The changeable quality is how these truths are taught. We can always go deeper into truth. We can vary the methodologies used to teach the truth to best adapt to the current generation. This was largely the role of Vatican II. Instead what happens is that the truth is changed to adapt to the culture instead of changing how the truth is presented to best address the culture. But to adapt to the culture of death is to drive the wrong way down a one way street. Cultural context only applies to how the truth is taught and not the truth itself, though sometimes cultural context can even help us to better understand the truth.
The Church is never afraid to ask the hard questions. We have a massively parallel processing computer that has helped us to do this. It is the constant teaching of the Church with the thousands and thousands throughout history that have made up this massively parallel processing that has processed the faith throughout the generations. Under the guidance of the magisterium (and ultimately the Holy Spirit) the development of doctrine has lead to a richer and deeper understanding of the mysteries of faith. A Catholic is never afraid of the truth since it only leads to Jesus. We can ask the hard questions because we are confident in the tools that Christ has given us through his Church. "A church with a brain" requires thinking Catholics to think with the Church. But so many so-called thinking catholics would cut themselves off from the thought that went before them and instead of feeding our brains are more likely to feed itching ears.