Faith and Higher Education

17 November 2014

Universities and other institutions of higher education have a privileged position in society. Judged by the quality of their estates, as well as their financial reserves, they are relatively prosperous. They also enjoy a high status in society. With such advantages come responsibilities, of course. In the case of faith-based universities and colleges in the Catholic tradition, such responsibilities include a commitment to the New Evangelisation.

Pope Francis teaches, “Evangelisation also involves the path of dialogue. For the Church today, three areas of dialogue stand out where the Church needs to be present in order to promote full human development and to pursue the common goal: dialogue with states, dialogue with society—including dialogue with cultures and the sciences—and dialogue with other believers who are not part of the Catholic Church.”

This dialogue, when it is genuine, promotes peace, argues Fr Ed Hone, CSsR, in his examination of Pope Francis’ Apostolic Exhortation, Evangelii Guadium.

Christian Unity
Fr Hone argues that when Christians are not united, they are effectively working against each other, failing to pool resources, give common witness of life and failing in the unity for which Christ prayed. When Christians are united, they give witness to the whole of society that different opinions, cultures and structures do not necessarily divide; diversity is possible, even desired, in unity.

Dialogue with Islam

In order to sustain dialogue with Islam, Fr Hone emphasises that suitable training is essential for all involved, not only so that they can be solidly and joyfully grounded in their own identity, but so that they can acknowledge the values of others, appreciate the concerns underlying their demands and shed light on shared beliefs. Authentic Islam and the proper reading of the Koran, he says, are opposed to every form of violence.

No Religious Tradition

Pope Francis also refers to people “who do not consider themselves as part of any religious tradition, yet sincerely seek the truth, goodness and beauty, which we believe have their highest expression and source in God”. These are considered “as precious allies in the commitment to defending human dignity, in building peaceful co-existence between peoples and in protecting creation”.

St Mary’s University College
At St Mary’s we seek to promote and facilitate unity and peace with all men and women. We ask God to help us to talk to each other and so understand and reach out a hand of friendship, so that we may all live in peace.

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