Something New

As the response to Christopher Ruddy’s recent Commonweal article on young theologians suggests (see, "Continuing the Conversation"), this is a time of great foment in the Catholic academic and intellectual world. Much of this can be attributed to last year’s decision by the U.S. bishops to endorse Ex corde ecclesiae’s demand that a juridical relationship be established between Catholic colleges and the church. But the question of how best Catholicism can engage contemporary intellectual culture is much larger than sorting out lines of authority among the Vatican, the local church, and the academy. Those who think that the juridical implementation of Ex corde is a mistake are no less concerned about the threats posed to Catholic identity by the moral agnosticism and naturalist philosophical biases of the predominant academic culture. How to engage modern secular culture while bringing the best of the Catholic tradition to bear is the more difficult and abiding dilemma. One effort, just under way, is to establish an Institute for Advanced Catholic Studies (IACS).

The project is the brainchild of James Heft, SM, University of Dayton chancellor, and Michael Lacey, director of United States Studies at the Woodrow Wilson Center. It has...

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