Catholic Scholars Address Current Problems

VOICES OF THE NEW SPRINGTIME: The Life and Work of the Catholic Church in the 21st Century. Edited by Kenneth D. Whitehead (St. Augustine’s Press, P.O. Box 2285, South Bend, Ind. 46680, 2004), ix + 102 pp. PB $17.00.

This volume contains the papers of the 25 th Annual Conference of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, held in Philadelphia in 2002. The keynote address was given by Cardinal Avery Dulles, on faith and reason, with a call to Catholics to overcome their apparent apathy in responding to the Pope’s appeal for a new evangelization. Father David O’Connell, C.M., the president of the Catholic University of America, recounted the recent sad history of American universities and colleges, but announced that it is now being reversed. Other speakers, though, could not find evidence of a reversal.

Gregory Floyd, the Northeast [U.S.] Director of Legatus, the only organization in the world designed exclusively for top-ranking Catholic business leaders, spoke on the work of the organization. Legatus was founded by Thomas Monaghan and has 1400 members in 44 chapters in the United States. Floyd listed the achievements of the movement in arousing and directing the apostolic outlook and work of its members. He also asked the Fellowship to help Legatus members to deepen their knowledge of the Faith, and recommended that the Church put Legatus members on Church boards, have them teach in Catholic colleges and seminaries, and have them train priests and seminarians in some of the areas in which Legatus members are so gifted.

Two talks dealt with the New Feminism, underlined its great challenge to the Church, and concluded: “There are no easy answers to the question of how we defend women’s equality to men in dignity and respect as members of Christ’s body and in the world while also defending their difference from men. But if we fail passionately and insistently to seek solutions in practice, we will fail to defend a culture of life.”

Kathryn Jean Lopez is an Assistant Editor at the National Review, a journalist, and a frequent guest on radio and TV. She underlined the importance of the media in shaping our culture, showed that many of them are anti-Catholic, and then urged members of the Fellowship to use them as much as possible, aware of the problems that can arise.

Robert P. George, a professor of jurisprudence and of politics at Princeton University, dealt with the great change in American law in the 1940s, away from an equal treatment of religions and towards secularism, protecting secularism as if it were the true religion, and relegating religions to private life. “Aiming to care for and favor religion—even without a trace of favoritism or hostility to any particular religion—is a prohibited “non-secular purpose. It is unconstitutional per se.” “Public authority may do nothing which aids religions as such, or that favors religions over “non-religion” or “irreligion.” Somehow the courts have decided that, in a democracy, religion has no justifiable place in the public sphere.

Of special interest are (1) the talk of Senator Rick Santorum of Pennsylvania, a great pro-life activist, on receiving a Fellowship award, and (2) talks by former presidents of the Fellowship at this, the Fellowship’s 25 th Annual Meeting, answering two questions: What has the Fellowship achieved in the last 25 years, and what is the greatest challenge for it today?

The papers and talks are excellent.

Rev. Leonard A. Kennedy, C. S.B.
The Academy of Our Lady Seat of Wisdom
Barry’s Bay, Ontario, Canada

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