Are there any Catholic colleges or universities left in the United States? The answer depends on how you define a Catholic college. Is it sufficient that a college call itself Catholic? Is it enough for a college to claim in its brochures that it is a Catholic institution? This article does not seek to describe the perfect or the ideal Catholic college. Rather, the description which follows details what an average Catholic college or university should be. (Throughout this article, the term Catholic college will be used to include Catholic universities.)
Let's begin with an analogy. Suppose that you are involved in planning a celebration of holy Mass. You decide, inexplicably, to invite any and all interested persons to attend the Mass, regardless of whether they are practicing Catholics or lapsed Catholics, or Protestants, or members of other religions, or atheists, or agnostics. Next, you decide that the persons assisting the priest in celebrating Mass, the altar servers, lectors, ushers, etc., also do not have to be practicing Catholics. You also decide to allow lay persons, including women, to organize the Mass and to take most of the positions of leadership during the Mass, including preaching the homily. And, lastly, you decide that some of the priests concelebrating the Mass can be openly hostile to Church teaching. During the homily, a lay person is permitted to preach a message which undermines and directly contradicts Church teaching on faith and morals. Thus, most of the persons at this hypothetical Mass are non-Catholics and some of those who call themselves Catholic are, in fact, rebellious against Church teaching.
Such a hypothetical Mass can barely be called Catholic. Such a Mass would offend God greatly because most of the persons attending the Mass are not Catholic, and because most of the persons leading the Mass are not Catholic, and because lay persons are given roles which should go to priests, and because priests and others are undermining and attacking Church teaching. Such a Mass would be far from ideal and far from what even a typical average Mass should be. In fact, such a Mass would be one short step away from not being a Mass at all. Yet, by way of analogy, Catholic colleges in the U.S. today are like such a Mass. Would any faithful Catholic want to attend such a Mass? Would any faithful Catholic want to attend such a college? Is not God greatly offended by the multitude of these serious errors?
A Catholic college should be ordered as one might order a celebration of the holy Mass.
Mistakes and Their Result
Catholic colleges make the following mistakes, which have the effect of making the college less than Catholic. They admit non-Christians, including atheists and agnostics, and they admit protestants and non-practicing non-believing Catholics. They hire faculty and staff who are non-Catholic. Even many of the members of the administration and the board who run the college or university are not practicing Catholics. Some Catholic colleges even hire a woman to be president of the college. Catholic colleges and universities commonly allow women to have roles of authority, leadership, and teaching over men. Priests are a rarity at Catholic colleges. Priests who believe and teach what the Church believes and teaches are rarer still. Those faculty and students who fail to believe and practice the Catholic faith are not expelled or even corrected in any way.
Because of these mistakes, the following problems are common and widespread in Catholic colleges and universities. Most students do not believe or practice the Catholic faith. Most faculty members do not offer to the students the example of an adult who believes and practices the Catholic faith. Most faculty members do not attend daily Mass. Neither do most of the students. The theology faculty are worse than the other faculty members. Most not only fail to set a good example for the students, but they also actively undermine and oppose Church teaching in their classes. Premarital sex is commonplace. Students at Catholic colleges and universities who become pregnant choose abortion just as often as students at non-Catholic institutions. Underage drinking is widespread. Use of illegal drugs also occurs.
Those students who believe and practice the Catholic faith devoutly find themselves to be in the minority among the students attending a Catholic college. And the same can be said of the faculty.
The number of students who believe and practice the Catholic faith diminishes significantly as each year of attendance passes. By the time a particular class graduates, many who began believing and practicing the faith, no longer believe or practice the faith. Attending a Catholic college or university is more likely to cause a student to lose faith than to gain faith. The number one purpose of any Catholic educational institution should be to increase the faith of its students. But most Catholic colleges have the opposite effect.
Any educational institution which causes students to turn away from the Catholic faith and from Catholic belief and practice can only be called Anti-Catholic. Any educational institution where believing and practicing Catholics are in the minority, among either students or faculty, cannot properly be called Catholic.
The Way It Should Be
Only Catholics who believe and practice the Catholic faith should be allowed to be members of the board, the administration, the faculty, and the staff at Catholic colleges. Only Catholics who believe and practice the Catholic faith should be admitted as students. Anyone admitted, in any role whatsoever, who is thereafter found to oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church, or to have ceased practicing the Catholic faith, should be quickly expelled without exception. No faculty member should have tenure; all faculty members should be subject to immediate dismissal, if they are found to have failed in their belief and practice of the Catholic faith.
Theology faculty members should consist solely of Catholics who believe and practice the Catholic faith. The theology faculty should include numerous priests. Women, including nuns, should not be permitted to teach theology at any Catholic college or university. Theology faculty members who write or teach anything contrary to Catholic teaching should be quickly dismissed without exception. The local Bishop should excommunicate any theology faculty member who has been found to be undermining or contradicting Church teaching.
Dormitories should be more like houses and less like storage warehouses. Supervision of students should be provided, not by older students, but by adults who are faithful to Church teaching. Premarital sex should be grounds for immediate expulsion. Use of illegal drugs should likewise result in immediate expulsion. Students who live with their families and who commute to school should be preferred over those who must live away from their families in order to attend. Housing should be made available for students who are married.
Dormitories and student housing should not allow unmarried men and women to share the same dorm room, bathroom, student apartment or house, nor the same floor in a dorm. Housing for men and women students should be separated by gender as much as possible. Cohabitation of unmarried students should be grounds for immediate expulsion.
The first and most important criteria for admission to a Catholic school is belief and practice of the Catholic faith. In fact, this criteria is both necessary and sufficient. A Catholic school of higher education should be willing to teach any faithful Catholic, regardless of their test scores, or high school grades, or extracurricular achievements. Donations to the college should not be accepted from families who have a relative applying for admission. The purpose of admissions is not to find the best and brightest students, so as to enhance the prestige of the college, but rather to find the students who can contribute to the college by their faithfulness to God and their personal integrity and who can benefit from the college by growing in faithfulness and integrity.
Catholic colleges should provide health services to students, to some extent, depending on the size of the school. In any case, every doctor, nurse, and medical staff member should be a faithful Catholic. A Catholic health service should never give out contraceptives or prescriptions for contraceptives. A Catholic health service should never refer pregnant women for abortions. A Catholic health service should, in every way possible, implement Catholic teaching in its practice of medicine and health care.
Catholic colleges and universities should practice poverty, chastity, and obedience.
Catholic colleges should not gather huge sums of money to use as an endowment (investing the principle sum and living off the interest). They should not build huge ornate expensive buildings. Far more money should be spent on the books in the library than on the library building itself. The salary for the school president and other administrators should be no greater than the maximum salary for professors. Any moneys in excess of what is absolutely necessary should go towards scholarships and reduced tuition.
Catholic colleges should reject government funding, since such funds typically come with conditions, such as that the college accept students and hire faculty and staff regardless of religious belief and practice. Catholic colleges should reject any donations which require them to compromise away from the ideal Catholic school. Expenses should be reduced as much as possible. Tuition should be as low as possible.
Faculty members should be paid a fair wage, but the school should not use a high wage to lure faculty to the school who otherwise would not agree to teach there. Faculty should be paid less than they could make at a non-Catholic school, so that only those faculty who value Catholicism highly will be willing to teach there. Administrators should be paid less than the faculty. The school board should include members of the faculty and the student body.
Poverty of spirit is an important part of true Christian poverty. Catholic colleges must practice poverty of spirit as well as poverty in finances. The college should not seek notoriety and should teach its students not to seek fame or fortune. The college must both practice and teach true Christian poverty.
School athletic programs should not be used to exalt the school and enhance its finances and prestige. Athletics are useful for all students. Admission of athletes should follow the same admissions criteria as for other students.
A Catholic college should have a humble separate building for worship and holy Mass. There should also be one or more chapels for private devotion located throughout the campus. The church building should be humble and ignominious; its greatness lies in the purity of the worship of God by its members, not in its height or expense or architectural achievement.
Speakers and guest instructors at a Catholic college should be chosen based on their faithfulness to Church teaching, not their social or political or cultural prominence. Honorary degrees, if they are given at all, should, again, only be given to faithful Catholics.
Degree programs should be aimed towards fields of study which edify the students and are of benefit to humanity. Degree programs should not be aimed towards making students rich and enhancing the prestige of the university. Catholic colleges should not accept grants or other moneys for research projects contrary to Church teaching.
The college should rely upon the school alumni, not as a source of money for the college, but as a source of moral and prayerful support, a source of possible guest speakers and instructors, and source of guidance for present faculty and students.
No one should be admitted to any Catholic college, if they have sexual relations outside of marriage or if they reject Church teaching on chastity. Unchastity should be grounds for immediate expulsion from the college. Furthermore, the faculty, staff, and administrators must also be chaste. Every student should be required, in each and every semester, to take at least one course in Catholic ethics and Catholic moral teachings. Such courses should emphasize those moral teachings which are under the most duress from modern culture. Students who reject or obstinately doubt Church teaching on faith or morals should be promptly expelled.
Any student who has sexual relations outside of marriage should be immediately expelled. Likewise, any administrator, faculty, or staff who has sexual relations outside of marriage should be immediately dismissed. Sex outside of marriage is common at Catholic colleges and universities, whereas it should be entirely absent.
Homosexuality is evil. The homosexual oreintation is a grave moral disorder within the human person. All sexual acts between persons of the same gender are intrinsicly evil and always gravely immoral. All unnatural sexual acts are intrinsicly evil and always gravely immoral, even if the persons committing the acts are a male and a female, or even a husband and his wife.
Catholic colleges and universities should never hire or admit any homosexuals or bisexuals. Such persons should never be permitted to be a part of the administration, faculty, staff, or student body at a Catholic school. Even if a person claims to be chaste with a homosexual oreintation, such a person should not be admitted to a Catholic school, because no one can have such a grave moral disorder within themselves without a significant degree of personal sin. Furthermore, no one with a homosexual oreintation can truly be considered to be chaste, because they have a serious moral disorder concerning sexuality within themselves.
All of the members of any Catholic college must exercise continuous obedience to the Sacred Magisterium and the Pope. Faculty and students must also be obedient to the college's rules and regulations, especially to those which are reflections of the moral law. Any woman who is a member of a Catholic college must show obedience and submissiveness to Church teaching and, if she is married, to her husband. A good way for a woman to give an outward sign of her inward attitude of obedience and submissiveness is for her to wear a headcovering or veil at Mass. Another way is for her to dress with humility and modesty, wearing only feminine attire and grooming her hair accordingly. Finally, she should not take any role which is appropriate only to a man.
Men and Women
Many of the teachings of Christ are contradicted and disregarded by modern society. One of these teachings is that men and women are intended by God to have different roles in the Church, the family, and society. This difference in roles must be reflected in a difference in behavior and clothing. A person's behavior is a reflection of their role. And their clothing is a reflection of their behavior and their role. Men and women are intended by God to have different roles in the Church, the family, and society. Men and women are also intended by God to have different behaviors and different manners of clothing and grooming.
Catholic colleges should believe, practice, and teach the doctrine that men and women are intended by God to have different roles, behavior, and clothing.
Men are intended by God to have roles of authority, leadership, and teaching over men, women, and children. Women can have roles of authority, leadership, and teaching over women and children. But women should never have roles of roles of authority, leadership, and teaching over adult men. Therefore, a woman cannot have a role as teacher or professor at a Catholic college or university, unless she follows a strict rule to teach only women. Men can teach both men and women. Thus, in a Catholic coed college or university, if there are any women teachers, there will be some classes which are for women only, and some for both men and women.
The theology faculty at a Catholic college should consist of faithful devout priests and lay theologians. Only men should teach theology at Catholic colleges and universities. God is greatly offended when a woman, even if she is a nun, teaches theology to any group which includes adult men. God is greatly offended when a woman argues theology with a man. A theologian's role is to teach the Church on earth, but God did not give women the role of teaching adult men. Therefore, no woman should be considered a theologian. A woman can write about her own life, including her spiritual life.
A woman can write prayerful practical advice for other devout women. A woman can be a saint or a martyr. But a woman cannot have the role of teaching adult men. The three women (so far) who are Doctors of the Church were never theologians, they never considered themselves to be theologians, they never had the role of theologian. Rather they teach by the example of their holy lives and by their writings, which describe their holy lives. Anyone of any age or gender can teach anyone else by means of their example of holiness. But the specific role of teacher cannot be given or accepted without regard to age and gender.
Every faculty member at a Catholic college should know, and every student should be taught the differences which God intends between men and women. Any man or woman who refuses to believe this teaching, or who refuses to practice it, should be admonished, and, upon repeat offense, expelled.
No woman should have a role of leadership or authority or teaching over adult men. Therefore, no woman should be president or chairperson of the board at a Catholic college or university; no woman should be dean or have any role of authority or leadership over adult men at a Catholic college or university. A woman can have a role of authority or leadership over other women. Therefore, a woman can be dean over only the woman students. A woman could also have some role of authority or leadership over the women faculty.
Prayer groups and Bible studies, among students within the college, should not be led by a woman, unless it is a women only group. Women only prayer groups are appropriate and edifying for women. Bible studies should be led by someone who is particularly knowledgeable about the Bible, typically a priest or theologian. Care should be taken that persons who have leadership and teaching roles are faithful to the teaching of the Church.
Men and women students should be taught that men and women are intended by God to have different manners of behavior. Faculty members should show their understanding of this truth in their own behavior. Courses in the Catholic faith should include all the teachings of Christ, including teachings on role, behavior, and clothing, and other teachings which are undermined and contradicted by modern culture.
Catholic colleges should enforce a strict dress code for all administrators, faculty, staff, and students. This dress code is a reflection of the teaching that men and women should have different roles and behaviors. The dress code should include the following.
1. Men must never dress like women, and women must never dress like men.
2. All men and women must dress modestly. Clothing should not be excessively tight or excessively revealing. A woman's dress or skirt should cover her knees when she is seated. Men and women should not wear shirts which reveal their midriff.
3. Women should not wear pants, neither long pants, nor short pants (undergarments excepted). Women should wear modest dresses, and modest skirts and blouses. Women should not wear pants, not even for work or for athletics.
4. Men should not groom their hair long. Women should not groom their hair short.
5. Men should not cover their heads with hats or anything else while in a church or chapel, nor should they cover their heads during prayer or Mass. Women should wear a headcovering or veil during prayer and Mass. Women should be encouraged to wear a headcovering or veil at other times, as a sign of their obedience and submissiveness.
6. Men should not have pierced ears, nor should they wear make-up, nor an excess of men's jewelry. Women can have pierced ears, and can wear a restrained amount of make-up and women's jewelry. Neither men nor women should have body piercings or an excess of tattoos.
7. The clothing of men and women should not be overly influenced by transient cultural fads. Clothing should be simple and humble. Clothing for worship during holy Mass should not be overly casual.
All students and faculty should be required to agree to and sign an honor code, requiring them to adhere to the above rules and to report any serious violations to the administration. Students and faculty should also be required to report anyone who does not believe and practice the Catholic faith within the college. Anyone who knows about and fails to report one of these reportable offenses should also be expelled.
Cheating on tests and other assignments is grounds for immediate expulsion and the honor code should require students to report violations by fellow students. Plagiarism should also be grounds for immediate expulsion and a reportable offense under the honor code.
Threats and assaults of every kinds, as well as any type of violent destruction of property should not be tolerated in the least. Again, expulsion from the college is appropriate, as is possible arrest and prosecution.
Drunkenness and underage drinking should result in strict disciplinary action and possible expulsion. Use of illegal drugs should result in immediate expulsion in addition to arrest and prosecution. Premarital sex should result in immediate expulsion from the college. Under the honor code, drunkenness, underage drinking, illegal drug use, and premarital sex should be reportable offenses.
Too many colleges and universities tolerate drinking, drugs, and premarital sex. They do not even attempt to discover who is committing these offenses, nor do they even have a policy of expelling those involved. They fail to ask students to report such offenses and they provide no way for a student to report offenses. Each and every Catholic college should both actively seek out persons committing these offenses, and require students to report on fellow students. The honor code should preempt any code of silence among students or faculty.
Rules Alone Are Insufficient
Some Catholic colleges try to maintain a Catholic identity by having rules consistent with Catholic teaching. However, this approach is insufficient. No matter what the rules are, if most of the faculty and most of the students are not believing and practicing Catholics, then the college will not be Catholic. In order to have a true Catholic college, the entire administration, faculty, staff, and student body must consist of believing and practicing Catholics. How refreshing it would be to have a place where faithful Catholics could learn and grow surrounded only by other faithful Catholics. How pleasing to God it would be to have a school of purity and holiness where serious offenses against the faith are never tolerated. How beautiful it would be to have a community of believers who were like a reflection of the Church in heaven.
--- by Ronald L. Conte Jr.