Friday, March 09, 2007

The Cardinal's Sense

Last night we spent an hour and a half in rush-hour traffic, heading for St. Xavier's University on the South Side to hear Cardinal George. We had understood that the theme of his lecture would be "What does it mean to be a Catholic in good standing?" Well, that was not entirely accurate. The theme was on Catholic Universities and moral teaching. (Which certainly can be the basis for many people's understanding of "being a good Catholic"!) The address was directed primarily to professionals in higher education, but I took quite a few notes, and intend to post some of the Cardinal's insights and remarks, though not right away. (The notebook is on the 2nd floor; I am on the 4th floor.)
What struck me the most was the Cardinal's concern about the move in higher education from "moral philosophy" (in which there are principles--truths--that indicate the "right thing to do") to "ethics" that is based, not on truth or on principles, but on an adapted form of "case law" in the legal system.
Without truth, the only "value" ethics can recognize, ultimately, is individual freedom. And this freedom turns into a power that subjugates the "right" to proclaim any truth at all. Truth becomes a threat to freedom, and freedom moves to suppress it, on the claim that "truth" is a strictly private matter that must never be "imposed" on anyone else, at the risk of limiting their freedom.
More later!
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