Thursday, September 7, 2017
A few days ago, at Notre Dame, the Cushwa Center convened an event to mark the 50th anniversary of the "Land O'Lakes" statement. Included in the event was a very thoughtful talk about the event, its context, and its implications by my friend and colleague, Dean John McGreevy (author of, among other things, this great book). To simplify, Dean McGreevy described the statement as ambitious, not naive, and as reflecting a commitment to deepen Catholic institutions' Catholic character, not to secularize.
The address is not yet available online, but I expect it will be soon. I enjoyed and appreciated the presentation and -- for the most part -- agreed with it. Two quick thoughts: First, I think that discussions of the effects of Land O'Lakes should not focus on the University of Notre Dame. I agree with Dean McGreevy that Notre Dame is in most respects more meaningfully and interestingly Catholic than it was 50 years ago -- and, as the Statement's writers hoped, it 's certainly better and more important. I also think that this is, at least in part, a product of the commitments and aspirations expressed in the Statement. That said, the critics of the Statement, and of the state of Catholic higher education generally, seem to be on solid ground when they say that at many Catholic institutions, this deepening and improving has not happened, and there has been a tendency to secularization, a loss of distinctiveness, etc.