Fr. Donohue attends Pope’s speech

Kate Carrubba

University President Rev. Peter Donohue, O.S.A., attended Pope Benedict XVI’s address to Catholic school administrators in Washington D.C. The event took place at the Catholic University of America on April 17.

The pope had four main points he wished to make about Catholic education in the United States. He described Catholic education as one of the greatest contributions of the American church, which in turn creates the best-educated Catholic population in the world. He also declared that religious communities need to maintain sponsorship of Catholic education as a high priority.

He stated that academic freedom must be respected at Catholic universities, though not to the extent that it contradicts the Catholic faith and teachings of the Church. The pope also mentioned that Catholic education has a continued obligation to reach out to poorer segments and minorities.

Benedict also broadened the definition of a Catholic school from a majority of Catholic students and faculty to encompass every aspect of university life. In his belief, even facets such as student life, academics and social outreach should incorporate the Catholic vision in order for a school to be truly Catholic.

Rev. Daniel Doyle, O.S.A., a University theology professor, provided commentary on the Pope’s visit for Comcast CN8 and said he believes that Donohue is encouraged that the University is on the correct path to reclaiming its Augustinian character.

Doyle also said he believes that the pope’s remarks will have no immediate effect on students. Instead, it will likely encourage administrators and faculty to think about the Catholic character of the University, especially in the reworking of the core curriculum.

Doyle also said he hopes that the pope’s visit will help students address deeper questions of responsibility and meaning in their everyday lives.

Doyle said he approved of the pope’s outreach to the American youth during his visit, calling it “right on target.”

He said that the pope’s most spontaneous address occurred at a youth rally in Yonkers, N.Y., in front of 25,000 students.

The pope also addressed the sexual abuse crisis in the United States. He met privately with some of the victims, along with making a public apology, which Doyle described as “believable.”

Doyle said he believes that the pope discovered the “vitality” in the American Catholic Church, which likely exceeded his expectations.

Some of the pope’s other activities included a meeting with representatives of other religions, a visit to Ground Zero in New York City and prayer services at the Washington Nationals’ Stadium in Washington D.C., Yankee Stadium and St. Patrick’s Cathedral.

The University recommended Doyle to Comcast CN8 as an expert on Vatican affairs at the time of the death of the previous pope, John Paul II.

He has studied the former Cardinal Ratzinger since the 1970s, when both wrote their doctoral dissertations on St. Augustine.

He has met Ratzinger several times in Rome and has even celebrated Mass with him. Doyle said he was “impressed on a personal level” by Ratzinger and said that the pope’s authoritarian public image “couldn’t be further from the truth.”