Dialogue and Proclamation in Catholic Universities

David Hollenbach, SJ

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The many Catholic universities spread around the world have an important role in allowing their students to obtain a better understanding of the Christian faith. So, in view of the Synod of Bishops that will be held in October 2018 on the theme, “Young People, Faith and Vocational Discernment,” it is good to look at the way these universities carry out their intellectual and educational work.

One thing that has important implications for the work of Catholic universities is the relationship between dialogue and proclamation: a decisive connection for their contribution to the Church’s call to bring the good news of Jesus Christ to the world, especially to the young. Dialogue and proclamation, in fact, are not alternative elements today. They are integrally linked in a credible and successful approach to evangelization today.

The importance of the connection between dialogue and proclamation for the role carried out by Catholic universities can be seen in light of several considerations. First, there are important aspects of the Catholic intellectual tradition that show how much the link between dialogue and proclamation shapes what these institutions can contribute to the mission of the Church. Second, commitment in dialogue will be fundamental in addressing students of today about the importance of religious faith and its role in their existence. Empirical data confirms this, showing that for university students the proclamation is less likely to be received if it is not made in a spirit of dialogue. Finally, the role of dialogue in promoting greater appreciation of the Christian faith has implications for the curricula, research and other programs of Catholic universities today.

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