Mirror of Justice

A blog dedicated to the development of Catholic legal theory.
Affiliated with the Program on Church, State & Society at Notre Dame Law School.

Monday, October 29, 2007

More on Meaning and Catholic Identity

I begin by sincerely thanking Susan for her responsive critique to my posting, “What Does It Mean?” that briefly replied to Rick’s post-AALS hiring conference reflection. Rick posed a vital question dealing with hiring faculty for law schools that claim to be Catholic.

My short response was intended to address a vital issue that is implicit in Rick’s question and deals with addressing questions raised by faculty candidates who are interested in the Catholic identity and mission of the school.

In my earlier post, I introduced the relevance of the Creed. Perhaps I am wrong about the underlying intent of her posting, but I think Susan concluded that I was proposing that the Creed is an important matter to be raised and discussed with to potential faculty recruits at screening interviews. That was not my intent.

Rather, it was and remains my intention about the Creed to elevate in our own consciousness a vital issue: whether the Catholic faculty who comprise an important, but not the only component of the faculty at a “Catholic law school” and who have a significant role in replenishing the faculty have a strong sense of their own identity so they can then address and answer the questions asked by candidates as identified by Rick.

If faculty recruiters do not have an understanding of who they are as Catholic academics, how can they explain the school’s Catholic identity and mission to recruits who ask about the Catholic soul of the institution that is interviewing and possibly recruiting them? If self-knowledge is weak, how can such questions be answered convincingly?

Susan surmises that “most Catholics (including a lot of Catholic academics) don’t spend a lot of time reflecting on what they are affirming when the recite the Creed at Mass every week.” I think they should, particularly when inquiring minds at recruitment conferences ask for an explanation about Catholic identity—when they call “us” on the “the ‘Catholic mission’ thing,” as Rick indicates. I think there are also some student applicants who also make similar inquiries but are greeted with generalizations that talk a lot about public service and corporal works of mercy (both of which are important) but very little about faith and reason and fidelity to Christ, God, and the Church (which are vital to identity).

I am further grateful to Susan for mentioning the book by Fr. Michael Himes, which she has found helpful in affirming faith. I take this occasion to recommend another book that examines the Apostles’ Creed (which offers insight into the Nicene Creed—the profession of faith recited at every Sunday Mass) authored by a young German theology professor back in 1968. The book is entitled “Introduction to Christianity.” The author has left the conventional university academic environment but still teaches on a frequent basis.    RJA sj


Araujo, Robert | Permalink

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