MERRIMACK, NH, December 21, 2010 ( – The ideal Catholic university, said Cardinal Raymond Burke last week, is one that creates a bulwark against the aggressive secularism of our times and its persistent attacks on human life, the dignity of the person and of natural marriage.

The former archbishop of St. Louis, and current head of the Vatican’s highest tribunal, laid out his blueprint for Catholic higher education in a lecture to students and faculty at Thomas More College of Liberal Arts December 13th. Thomas More is one of a handful of U.S. Catholic colleges that have deliberately aligned themselves with a revival of Catholic orthodoxy in academia.

In laying out his ideal, Cardinal Burke, who serves as the Prefect of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome, decried the fact that the same aggressive secularism that Catholic education should be ideally suited to combat has all but overwhelmed most of the world’s Catholic post-secondary institutions.

Catholic colleges and universities, he said, “which once gave pride of place to their Catholic identity and the Catholic life of the campus” are now “Catholic in name only.” Many have illustrated the Latin expression, “corruptio optimi pessima est … the corruption of the best is the worst.”

He called it a “tragedy” that Catholic educational institutions have fallen prey to the “prevalent and utterly destructive error of our time that somehow faith is contradicted by reason.”

“This error has hindered and even prevented the essential and irreplaceable contribution of the Church to the life of society … to the common good.”

The Catholic college that fits the description is one that resists “the secularist dictatorship which would exclude all religious discourse from the professions and from public life in general.”

Modern society is marked by “a virulent secularism which threatens the integrity of every aspect of human endeavor and service” that true Catholic education must counter. 

The “manner of study” at a truly Catholic university, should show up the “bankruptcy of the abuse of human life and human sexuality, which has come to be standard on many university campuses.”

This includes the “bankruptcy of the violation of the inviolable dignity of human life, of the integrity of marriage, and of the right order of our relationship to one another and to the world, in general, which is the trademark of our culture, a culture of violence and death.”

Read the full text of the cardinal’s address here.


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