Ex Corde Ecclesiae

James M. Patterson writes on the turmoil between the president and faculty at Mount St. Mary’s University, and in Patterson’s writing he returns to look at the characteristics that should define a Catholic university:

Ex Corde Ecclesiae [is] St. John Paul the Great’s 1990 papal encyclical. It explains the purpose of the Catholic university as, “an academic community, which, in a rigorous and critical fashion, assists in the protection and advancement of human dignity and of a cultural heritage through research, teaching and various services offered to the local, national and international communities.” To that end, the Catholic university must cast “the light of the Catholic faith upon the growing treasure of human knowledge” and remain faithful “to the Christian message as it comes to us through the Church” in “service to the people of God and of the human family.”

Great, succinct way to understand why Catholics rightly call for institutions like Notre Dame, Georgetown, Loyola, etc. to conserve their distinctive identities.

A Catholic institution should exist to serve the culture by being distinct from it. If it’s simply another institution doing great research, teaching students, and affirming the reality of different perspectives without any unifying perspective, then they might as well be state schools. Even the state once believed e pluribus unum

This is certainly something I hope Ave Maria University can do—conserve its distinctive character.