Monday, January 31, 2005
As one possible starting point for realistic dreaming about where we can go with Catholic legal education, I recommend Jesuit Education 21: Conference Proceedings on the Future of Jesuit Higher Education (2000) and (2) the review thereof appearing at 70 Archivum Historicum S.I. 181 (2001). The book includes this at p. 446: "I don't know about your Jesuit institution, but I can tell you that at mine, if you want to talk about hiring Catholics for mission, it is about twenty-five years too late. . . . If you were to tell the faculty tomorrow to 'hire for mission' with an emphasis on Catholic rather than, or over and above Jesuit, I know what will happen -- even if the definitional problem can be solved (and it cannot), and even if there were an adequate number of candidates (and there are not), the present faculty simply will simply not do it." The background to the quote concerns Catholic and Jesuit universities writ large, and the question of specifically legal education in the Catholic tradition and Church only raises the stakes, not least because in law we lack the historical images, templates, and touchstones that, at least in part, still inspire and test some attempts to revivify undergraduate (and some graduate) education in the American Catholic scene. Rick is right, I think, that the possibility of making truth claims has to be faced at the threshold -- embarrassing though this may be. (Try fitting this notion into the current mission statement of the Georgetown University Law Center, satellite enterprise of that Jesuit University that could not locate a Jesuit to succeed to its presidency). I am inclined to agree with Father Burtchaell that, though it won't necessarily help the "Catholic" universities and colleges in the eyses of the obsessive rankers of this and that, they need to be subjected to the test of the Gospel and tradition(s) that brought them forth and, until the other day, refined them. And who other than the Church itself can, and perhaps will, see that this comes to pass?