Diakonia of truth and intellectual charity
The Pope was warmly received by Catholic educators when he gave his talk at The Catholic University of America yesterday. Heads or representatives of all Catholic colleges and universities had been invited as well as the heads of education departments in US dioceses. The talk was interrupted twice by applause, first when the Pope expressed the Church’s gratitude for the sacrifices and commitments, past and present, that had made our Catholic schools possible and valuable, and then when he urged that Catholic schools in poor neighborhoods not be abandoned.
Two phrases the Pope used to describe the purpose of Catholic education struck me: it was a “diakonia of truth” (service to the truth) and an embodiment of “intellectual charity.” He stressed that it was an act of love to try to communicate to students that it is possible to seek and to reach the truth and thus to help free them from the narrowness of positivism and relativism. The talk was positive in tone throughout and belied the predictions that he would offer a “stern rebuke” of our educational institutions.
The headlines today, of course, are about the Pope’s having met with survivors of clerical sex abuse. The Washington Post does have a short piece on the Pope’s comments on academic freedom, which read:
To all of you I say: bear witness to hope. Nourish your witness with prayer. Account for the hope that characterizes your lives (cf. 1 Pet 3:15) by living the truth which you propose to your students. Help them to know and love the One you have encountered, whose truth and goodness you have experienced with joy.