Saturday, September 24


Fr. Jenkin's Inaugural Address yesterday afternoon was nothing short of incredible. I highly recommend reading the entire address here.

Some highlights:
"A Catholic university has a distinctive identity today. But in the beginning, all universities were Catholic universities. The first university was founded in Bologna, Italy, in 1088, as a place for Church officials to study canon law. After that came the University of Paris, developed out of the school at the Cathedral of Notre Dame. Next was Oxford, which grew up out of the remains of an Augustinian monastery.

These universities were, as Pope John Paul II later described them: 'ex corde ecclesiae' – 'from the heart of the church.' Their emergence was stimulated by deep principles in the Catholic tradition. These Catholic principles that inspired the founding of universities still define Notre Dame's character and describe her mission today.

... Moreover, the Catholic tradition insists on the unity of all knowledge. Truth is one. Knowledge in every branch of inquiry is intrinsically valuable, and scholars in diverse disciplines pursue the same truth. Truths found in physics and biology do relate to those found in art, literature, and philosophy, and our common pursuit of truth must include conversations across disciplines. The Catholic tradition resists the fragmentation of knowledge; it insists on the essential unity of a university.

... Notre Dame is different. Combining religious faith and academic excellence is not widely emulated or even admired among the opinion-makers in higher education. Yet, in this age especially, we at Notre Dame must have the courage to be who we are."
While the speech was well and positively worded, many of his remarks, especially those on faith and reason and the unity of knowledge took a gutsy stab at the model of a secular research university that is too often emulated here. He spoke not only of the history and traditions of Notre Dame, but that of Catholic universities as a whole. His treatment of the issue of diversity was one of the best I've heard. He spoke of its importance from a 'Catholic as Universal' standpoint, of being able to test our Catholic ideas against others, while not wavering in them.

On a side note, the last line I quoted sounds very JPII-esque.

All in all, I should say that we're off to a good start.

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