May 19, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On Sunday, May 10, His Eminence Francis Cardinal Arinze, former Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Sacraments, delivered the commencement speech and received an honorary doctorate at The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts (TMC) in Merrimack, New Hampshire. During his address, Arinze delivered to the graduates an authentic vision for the mission of Catholic institutions of higher education.
“Cardinal Arinze’s words of wisdom ring true in this age of contrasts when more and more Catholic universities are recognizing the priceless value of their Catholic identities, said Patrick Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS). CNS is a watchdog organization devoted to Catholic education.
“Unfortunately,” he continued, “some Catholic universities, including Notre Dame, have chosen prestige over principle. It is good to know that Thomas More College is encouraging graduates to emulate such a defender of the Catholic faith as Cardinal Arinze. This is the kind of public witness Catholic institutions should be providing in the public square.”
Cardinal Arinze emphasized the mission of Catholic universities to strive to educate students about the relationship “between faith and reason, on specialization and orientation, and on science and ethics.” He noted that the marker of success for Catholic colleges and universities is having “succeeded in forming and turning out model Christians who are good citizens.”
Arinze continued, “If a Catholic College or University adopts this attitude of ‘courageous creativity and rigorous fidelity,’ it will be able to contribute much to promote a healthy synthesis between faith and culture in society.”
“A Catholic college or university educates students to appreciate that moral rules of right and wrong apply also to science, technology, politics, trade and commerce, and indeed to all human endeavors.”
“In the complicated world of today, where all kinds of ideas are struggling for the right of citizenship, a university student needs a clear and viable orientation on the relationship between religion and life. The Catholic College or University is ideally positioned to help him see the light and equip himself for a significant contribution in society.”
Cardinal Arinze encouraged TMC for its rigorous moral, as well intellectual formation. He asked, “But what does it profit us if a student is an intellectual giant but a moral baby… if he or she can shoot out mathematical or historical facts like a computer but is unfortunately a problem for the parents, corrosive acid among companions in the College, a drug addict and sexual pervert, a disgrace to the school, a waste-pipe in the place of work and Case number 23 for the Criminal Police? It is clear that intellectual development is not enough.”
The Cardinal noted the difficulties facing new graduates in a world ruled by moral relativism. “A person who holds that certain actions, like direct abortion, are always objectively wrong, is regarded as ‘judgmental’, or as imposing his views on others.”
Echoing Pope Benedict XVI’s address to Catholic educators, he said, “The exercise of freedom in pursuit of the truth is very much a part of integral education. If a Catholic College or University does not help in this way, should we not say that it has failed in one of its important roles?”
“If a Catholic college or university answers to its vocation in the ways outlined above, then it will be educating, forming and releasing into society model citizens who will be a credit to their families, their college, the Church and the State. It will prepare for us members of Congress or the Senate who will not say ‘I am a Catholic, but…’ but rather those who will say ‘I am a Catholic, and therefore…’”
During his speech, Cardinal Arinze praised TMC as “a young and dynamic Catholic liberal arts college…dedicated to forming students intellectually and spiritually within the Catholic intellectual tradition and with unapologetic fidelity to the Magisterium, or the Teaching Authority of the Church.”
Thomas More College of Liberal Arts is also lauded in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College for its significant emphasis on intellectual offerings and for its recent strengthening of “its already notable Catholic identity.” (See: https://www.catholichighered.org/TheNewmanGuide/tabid/356/Default.aspx)