Tuesday, January 15, 2013
As we plunge into the new academic semester, we may confront once again the question of what is it that Catholic law professors along with all other Catholic teachers are supposed to be doing (in addition to developing Catholic legal theory, of course!)?
Recently, Archbishop Charles J. Chaput, OFM Cap. of Philadelphia offered some helpful insight to formulate a response to this question when he addressed the national convention of the Catholic Campus Ministry Association. [His address entitled “Young Adults and the ‘Secrets of the Heart’” is here] Importantly for those of us who teach the law, he relied in part on the illustration of the relationship between Saint Thomas More and his daughter Margaret Roper.
The archbishop does not waste time by pointing out the connections between the role of all educators, the Catholic faith and discipleship, and the challenges presented to these first two matters by the contemporary age. He offers his own and the thoughts of others on the challenges which are presented in the cultural climate of the present age. I would like to offer a further matter which students, parents, pastoral ministers, and teachers who claim to be disciples of Jesus Christ need to consider in their roles in educational formation. The matter involves the question of life: what’s it all about? Of course, this question needs some nuance involving subsidiary or related issues including but not limited to: what is the purpose or objectives of human existence; what is at the heart of relationship; what is love; what is the goal of education; should norms be a part of human existence and how and by whom are they to be formed; who is God; what is the nature of the human person; and, how does the human person know if there is a right and a wrong, and if there is, how is it to be determined? Again, I state that these are not the only questions which any educator ought to think about, but they are surely some which the Catholic educator needs to consider.
I, for one, will do my best to assess how my syllabi for the current semester take account of the issues raised by Archbishop Chaput and the brief complementary remarks that I have offered here today.