Catholic Studies at the University of St. Thomas

Portrait of St. John Paul II by Guido GregantiCatholic Studies mission statement:

To promote the “higher synthesis of knowledge” explained by St. John Paul II in Ex corde ecclesiae, the Apostolic constitution of Catholic institutions of higher education, through innovative inter- and multi-disciplinary educational and research programs that shine the light of the Catholic intellectual tradition on issues of contemporary and enduring concern across disciplines.

Catholic Studies vision statement:

Catholic Studies will foster a broad and dynamic engagement between the Catholic tradition and the contemporary world rooted in Catholic philosophical anthropology—who and what the human person is and was made for—as found in Ex corde ecclesiae.

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Rooted in Catholic philosophy and theology, an understanding of the human person as neither merely material nor “really” only spirit, but an ordered unity of body, mind, and spirit.

“Scientific and technological discoveries create an enormous economic and industrial growth, but they also inescapably require the correspondingly necessary search for meaning in order to guarantee that the new discoveries be used for the authentic good of individuals and of human society as a whole. If it is the responsibility of every University to search for such meaning, a Catholic University is called in a particular way to respond to this need: its Christian inspiration enables it to include the moral, spiritual and religious dimension in its research, and to evaluate the attainments of science and technology in the perspective of the totality of the human person.” ECE 7

“It is essential that we be convinced of the priority of the ethical over the technical, of the primacy of the person over things, of the superiority of the spirit over matter. The cause of the human person will only be served if knowledge is joined to conscience. Men and women of science will truly aid humanity only if they preserve 'the sense of the transcendence of the human person over the world and of God over the human person” ECE 18

“A specific priority is the need to examine and evaluate the predominant values and norms of modern society and culture in a Christian perspective, and the responsibility to try to communicate to society those ethical and religious principles which give full meaning to human life. In this way a University can contribute further to the development of a true Christian anthropology, founded on the person of Christ, which will bring the dynamism of the creation and redemption to bear on reality and on the correct solution to the problems of life.” ECE 33

All knowledge is ultimately unified. The different methods of the various disciplines are not meant to be prison walls keeping the truths of one permanently separated from another, but are at their best when structuring a division of labor in pursuit of complex questions. Working within disciplinary lines is vital, and working across those lines can be mutually enriching, too.

“While each discipline is taught systematically and according to its own methods, interdisciplinary studies, assisted by a careful and thorough study of philosophy and theology, enable students to acquire an organic vision of reality and to develop a continuing desire for intellectual progress.” ECE 20

“In its attempts to resolve these complex issues that touch on so many different dimensions of human life and of society, a Catholic University will insist on cooperation among the different academic disciplines, each offering its distinct contribution in the search for solutions.” ECE 35

“An area that particularly interests a Catholic University is the dialogue between Christian thought and the modern sciences. This task requires persons particularly well versed in the individual disciplines and who are at the same time adequately prepared theologically, and who are capable of confronting epistemological questions at the level of the relationship between faith and reason. Such dialogue concerns the natural sciences as much as the human sciences which posit new and complex philosophical and ethical problems.” ECE 46

Because all truth is God’s truth, we integrate knowledge across disciplines to form a better understanding of the whole of the created order. All the disciplines fit together, but figuring out how the fit together is itself part of the original project of the university.

“Aided by the specific contributions of philosophy and theology, university scholars will be engaged in a constant effort to determine the relative place and meaning of each of the various disciplines within the context of a vision of the human person and the world that is enlightened by the Gospel, and therefore by a faith in Christ, the Logos, as the centre of creation and of human history.” ECE 16

Promotes “an education that combines excellence in humanistic and cultural development with specialized professional training. Most especially, they are challenged to continue the search for truth and for meaning throughout their lives, since "the human spirit must be cultivated in such a way that there results a growth in its ability to wonder, to understand, to contemplate, to make personal judgments, and to develop a religious, moral, and social sense." ECE 23

“By its very nature, a University develops culture through its research, helps to transmit the local culture to each succeeding generation through its teaching, and assists cultural activities through its educational services.” ECE 43

All truth comes from The Truth, and thus faith and reason are not only compatible, but mutually strengthening and lead to a deeper and better understanding of the problems and challenges facing us today.

“Methodical research within every branch of learning, when carried out in a truly scientific manner and in accord with moral norms, can never truly conflict with faith. For the things of the earth and the concerns of faith derive from the same God"(20). A vital interaction of two distinct levels of coming to know the one truth leads to a greater love for truth itself, and contributes to a more comprehensive understanding of the meaning of human life and of the purpose of God's creation.” ECE 17

“In the communication of knowledge, emphasis is then placed on how human reason in its reflection opens to increasingly broader questions, and how the complete answer to them can only come from above through faith.” 20

The pursuit of knowledge is not merely for the sake of more efficient use of material resources, but also because we want to know the truth.

“Without in any way neglecting the acquisition of useful knowledge, a Catholic University is distinguished by its free search for the whole truth about nature, man and God. The present age is in urgent need of this kind of disinterested service, namely of proclaiming the meaning of truth, that fundamental value without which freedom, justice and human dignity are extinguished.” ECE 4

“Included among its research activities, therefore, will be a study of serious contemporary problems in areas such as the dignity of human life, the promotion of justice for all, the quality of personal and family life, the protection of nature, the search for peace and political stability, a more just sharing in the world's resources, and a new economic and political order that will better serve the human community at a national and international level. University research will seek to discover the roots and causes of the serious problems of our time, paying special attention to their ethical and religious dimensions. If need be, a Catholic University must have the courage to speak uncomfortable truths which do not please public opinion, but which are necessary to safeguard the authentic good of society.” ECE 32

“In particular, it is recommended that by means of appropriate studies, the impact of modern technology and especially of the mass media on persons, the family, and the institutions and whole of modem culture be studied deeply.” ECE 45