Updated 05/18/2012 07:09 PM
Papal message to colleges
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SYRACUSE, N.Y. -- He is the leader of a church with more than a billion members, concerned that some members of that church, especially in the United States, may be straying from its teachings. It has been difficult to convince many Catholics that they cannot pick and choose among the church's core teachings.
“Probably due to our American democratic ideals, that we feel we can choose and pick and vote on things. That's really not the role of the church. Or my role. The role of the Bishop is to teach what the church teaches,” said Bishop Robert Cunningham.
The Pope is now voicing some concerns about Catholic colleges and universities. Have they lost their catholic identity?
For as long as there have been Catholic institutes of higher education, there has been a tension. It all centers on the differences between a pulpit and a college classroom.
“Our role is not to indoctrinate, as it would be to young children with a catechism. It's to really open their minds, in a very critical sense, to the world around them,” said Rev. David McCallum, Le Moyne College Special Assistant to the President.
Schools like Le Moyne College say they fully embrace Pope Benedict’s call for a more integrated pursuit of learning, one that focuses on religious teachings as a basis for both learning and life. But the nation’s Catholic schools also stress another mission.
McCallum said, “The education of students in a rigorous intellectual fashion, which is critical. Which is often cutting across multiple disciplines, not just theology, obviously. And introducing young people to a mature, intellectually informed, moral way of making a contribution back to society.”
While the Pope’s directive could cause clashes in some diocese, few expect any clash here.
“We're all part of a single reality, a single, very extensive, community. And there's needs to be a kind of mature, respectful dialog amidst the members of that community,” McCallum said.
There is also a belief that the pendulum may be swinging back. That the younger generation may be ready for a revival.
Cunningham said, “When I was with the Holy Father in November, he asked me if the young people of our diocese are open to the faith. I believe a number of young Catholics are very much interested in returning to what they see as the core beliefs, the core practices.”