Posted by Peter Lawler
Benedict/Ratzinger urges universities to undertake a comprehensive study of the crisis of modernity and broaden our understanding of rationality.
This Pope continues to recall us to the fundamental human truths. It is to be regretted that, in this latest call to better understand our humanity as part of a created order and to confront the crisis of modernity that has left us only half-truths, that the Universities are now even more complicit in purveying these half-truths than most other cultural institutions.
Pope Benedict XVI states here: "As my predecessor, Pope John Paul II, stated, we need to ask 'whether in the context of all this progress, man, as man, is becoming truly better, that is to say, more mature spiritually, more aware of the dignity of his humanity, more responsible and more open to others' ("Redemptor Hominis," 15). The anthropocentrism which characterizes modernity can never be detached from an acknowledgment of the full truth about man, which includes his transcendent vocation." Reading this, one can't help but be struck that our Universities are perhaps above all the modern institutions devoted to a superficial ideal of progress as the fundamental aim of higher education. In no way do the modern universities address the question of vocation with their students; to do so would require the acknowledgement of a created whole which requires discernment and attentiveness on their parts. The elimination of core curricula represent a rejection of such a kind of comprehensive knowledge, and further, of the idea that the past could in any way be a repository of wisdom, including a wisdom that calls to mind limits and an order of which humankind is a part, and not master.
One can only hope that the Universities can again become a source of true enlightenment, though their continued assault on classical wisdom seems to make this at best a fond wish.
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