This is not the kind of Catholic spiritual path Cardinal Burke wants to see taught in Catholic colleges.
It's fun when two articles pop up on the same week end and have two seriously different views of Catholic culture. The following high lights the main ideas of Cardinal Burke as to what a Catholic university should embody. Burke gave these thoughts at St Thomas More College of Liberal Arts President's Council Dinner held in Boston. This link will take you to another view point about Catholic education written by Nicholas Lash for the Jesuit magazine America.
Authentic Catholic universities help resist ‘secular dictatorship,’ Cardinal Burke says.....In a lengthy discussion of the nature of Catholic higher education, he said that a Catholic university faithful to its identity will help students give an account of their faith and help them resist “the secularist dictatorship which would exclude all religious discourse from the professions and from public life in general.”
Boston, Mass., Dec 11, 2010 / 07:39 am (CNA).-
Boston, Mass., Dec 11, 2010 / 07:39 am (CNA).-
He also declared Jesus Christ, the “fullness” of God’s revelation, as “the first and chief teacher at every institution of Catholic higher education.” (I don't think Burke really means this as Jesus taught something very different from rote memorization of a rule book.)
“A Catholic college or university at which Jesus Christ alive in His Church is not taught, encountered in the Sacred Liturgy and its extension through prayer and devotion, and followed in a life of virtue is not worthy of the name,” he told attendees.
Jesus’ presence is not something “extraneous” to the pursuit of truth because he alone inspires and guides professors and students to remain faithful in their pursuits and not “fall prey to the temptations which Satan cleverly offers to corrupt us.” (This temptation must be secularism since Burke uses the word constantly.)
Cardinal Burke lamented the fall of many American Catholic colleges and universities that have become “Catholic in name only.”
Citing Pope John Paul II’s ad limina address to the U.S. bishops of New York, he said that the service of Catholic universities “depends on the strength of their Catholic identity.” The Catholic university was born from “the heart of the Church” and has been “critical” to meeting the challenges of the time.
The Catholic university is needed more than ever in a society “marked by a virulent secularism which threatens the integrity of every aspect of human endeavor and service,” he said.
“How tragic that the very secularism which the Catholic university should be helping its students to battle and overcome has entered into several Catholic universities, leading to the grievous compromise of their high mission,” he commented. (I can't find where Burke actually defines what he means by 'secularism'.)
The American-born cardinal said that rather than exemplifying secularism, the Catholic university’s manner of study and research should “manifest the bankruptcy of the abuse of human life and human sexuality … and 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.” (This paragraph seems to imply that Burke actually means 'sexularism' rather than secularism.)
...Cardinal Burke also described the kind of relationship that should exist between the local bishop and a Catholic university. The “noble mission” of the university, he said, can only be accomplished within the Church, and the local bishop should be able to depend upon the Catholic university as a partner in meeting the challenges of evangelization, in teaching the faith, and in celebrating the liturgy.
He criticized as “totally anomalous” the situation in which the Catholic university views the bishop as “a suspect or outright unwelcome partner in the mission of Catholic higher education.” (Ahem, this works the other way around as well, where the bishop views the college or university as an unwelcome partner.)
“Given the religious illiteracy which marks our time and in fidelity to the seriousness with which university studies should be undertaken, there is really no place for engaging in speculative theology and certainly no time to waste on superficial and tendentious theological writings of the time,” the cardinal contended. (This is as blatant a statement as one could want that Catholic colleges should confine their theology departments to the catechism in order to combat 'religious illiteracy'.)
He questioned why students should be engaged in discussions about the ordination of women as priests when they already have little knowledge of the “consistent teaching” of the Holy Scriptures and Catholic Tradition on the priesthood.
“My reflection is offered to assist us all in seeking always first the truth and love by which we serve others and our world well by serving God first,” he said.....
When I participate in giving workshops in spirituality, one thing I find myself doing as I listen to stories, is asking myself what are the basic assumptions about reality the person is using to interpret their experience. Frequently I will hear someone say, 'I used to be a conservative Christian until I had this experience. Now I don't know what I am'. Or I will hear something a long the lines that 'this was so far out of my understanding I thought I was delusional or going psychotic'. It turns out what they really mean is there was no explanation for their experience with in their religious system or educational paradigm. Their experience transcended their enculturated explanations and beliefs about the nature of reality.
In Cardinal Burke's case his underlying assumptions are pretty straight forward. Burke's idea of Catholic education is not spiritual education in any meaningful sense. It's religious governance. It's what Nicholas Lash's article refers to as commanding as opposed to instructing, as governing as opposed to teaching:
I have long maintained that the heart of the crisis of contemporary Catholicism lies in just such subordination of education to governance, the effect of which has too often been to substitute for teaching proclamation construed as command. As Yves Congar said, it is impossible to make the function of teaching an integral element of jurisdiction because it is one thing to accept a teaching, quite another to obey an order: “Autre chose est agréer une doctrine, autre chose obéir à un ordre.”
Cardinal Burke is a true follower of John Paul II's ideas about Catholic education. It was JPII who took the idea of Catholic education at the university level down to the level of Catechism 101. He continued a trend started during the papacy of Pio No No (Pious IX) in which teaching becomes the province of the hierarchy and obedience the province of the laity. Honest intellectual disagreement becomes purely selfish dissent, as Lash demonstrates with this quote:
John Paul II, addressing the American bishops in Los Angeles in 1987, said without qualification: “It is sometimes said that dissent from the magisterium is totally compatible with being a ‘good Catholic’ and poses no obstacle to the reception of the sacraments. This is a grave error that challenges the teaching office of the bishops in the United States and elsewhere.”
I have a real problem with any religious authority which commands obedience rather than teaches ideas. Jesus taught that we must die to our self. For me this means we must overcome the enculturated ego which controls our inner dialogue and that we all too frequently mistake for the truth of who we are. That enculturated ego is a product of memory and learning and is therefore very much a product of external authority. In Burke's idea of a Catholic college, our best and brightest are to be further enculturated in a system which insists the adult ego stay dependent on the kind of external authority that defined the child ego.
Obviously this kind of education doesn't benefit the true spiritual seeker who is attempting to look with in and find independent validation or different understandings for one's experiences or beliefs. Burke's idea is designed to keep the spiritual seeker from even attempting such a thing, going so far as to imply such a search is satanic in it's origin. And here I thought such a search was divinely inspired and actually required---silly me.
I personally was intrigued by how a college of 100 students could attract a Rome based Cardinal to speak at one of it's dinners. I suppose it should come as no surprise that said college is hugely connected with conservative Catholic political leaders and has the Cardinal Newman Society seal of approval ---or that the Rome based Cardinal is Burke. Oh or that said college, like many of it's persuasion who were started by an individual Catholic crusader, has a provisional accreditation because of shaky financing. Maybe Burke's presence at this dinner helped with that financial thing.