Pope Benedict Repeats Call for Authentic ‘Academic Freedom’ 

by Martin Barillas Tuesday, September 29, 2009

September 29, 2009

Pope Benedict Repeats Call for Authentic ‘Academic Freedom’

Manassas, Va. – On Sunday, September 27, 2009, Pope Benedict XVI spoke about Catholic education to “representatives of the world of academia and culture” during a meeting at Charles University in Prague, Czech Republic. During the meeting, the Pope spoke on the authentic concept of truth and the proper understanding of academic freedom for universities, repeating themes from his Address to Catholic Educators at The Catholic University of America in April 2008.

“Once again, Pope Benedict has forthrightly tackled relativism and false notions of ‘academic freedom’—twin culprits in the decline of higher education in America and Europe,” said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society. “Too often certain Catholic colleges and universities make false appeals to ‘academic freedom’ to defend the actions of dissenting professors, performances of ‘The Vagina Monologues,’ homosexual and pro-abortion advocacy, and numerous other abuses of their Catholic identity.”

The university setting is one dear to Pope Benedict XVI since he himself was a professor for many years. He addressed his audience at Charles University as “one who has been a professor, solicitous of the right to academic freedom and the responsibility for the authoritative use of reason.”

“The freedom that underlies the exercise of reason -- be it in a university or in the Church -- has a purpose: it is directed to the pursuit of truth, and as such gives expression to a tenet of Christianity which in fact gave rise to the university.”

“The proper autonomy of a university,” the Holy Father said, “finds meaning in its accountability to the authority of truth.” He noted that that autonomy can be thwarted. “The great formative tradition, open to the transcendent” which is “the base of universities” was “systematically subverted by the reductive ideology of materialism, the repression of religion and the suppression of the human spirit.”

Celebrating the revolution which overturned Soviet rule of the Czech Republic, the Holy Father noted that “the yearning for freedom and truth is inalienably part of our common humanity.”

The Holy Father pointed to the critical role “academia” plays in “upholding and contributing to the cultural and spiritual values of society” and also noted that the “movements of reform” which “swept Czech society twenty years ago” originated at universities.

“The grave duty” for “enlightening the minds and hearts of the young men and women of today” is an “essential aspect of the mission of the university.” This responsibility is fulfilled when universities give students an “integrated education, based on the unity of knowledge grounded in the truth.”

The full text of the Holy Father’s speech at Charles University is available on Zenit.

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To schedule an interview with The Cardinal Newman Society contact Adam Wilson at outreach@cardinalnewmansociety.org or 703/367-0333, ext. 102.

This news release is also available here.


0    submitted by Martin Barillas
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