Academic Freedom and the Telos of the Catholic University by Kenneth Garcia (auth.)

By Kenneth Garcia (auth.)

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Ironically, while these college leaders were affirming the spiritual and theological dimension of academic life in these documents, many of them were simultaneously removing such language from their mission statements and catalogues in order to qualify for federal and state funds. That is where Catholic universities find themselves today, on the one hand, wanting to integrate the religious with the academic and, on the 16 Academic Freedom other, dependent on federal funds, on rankings, and on the desire for prestige from their secular counterparts, and therefore often downplaying the religious.

Some have the liberal arts at their core, while others focus more on professional training. Morey and Piderit have developed a typology of the various kinds of Catholic institutions of higher education: (1) Catholic immersion universities, (2) Catholic persuasion universities, (3) Catholic cohort universities, and (4) Catholic diaspora universities. Catholic immersion universities seek to be pervasively Catholic; to recruit committed Catholic students, faculty, and administrators; and to thoroughly integrate spiritual, moral, and academic life.

To be eligible for these funds, Catholic college leaders across the country severed their ties with their founding religious orders, downplayed their emphasis on the spiritual dimension of academic life, and adopted secular principles of academic freedom. The results of these court cases were profound and far reaching, moving Catholic universities in the direction of secularization. However, an opposite trend was occurring simultaneously. During the same time that these court cases were taking place, leaders of Catholic universities worldwide began meeting to discuss the implications of Vatican II for Catholic higher education.

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