Unlike public institutions of higher education, a Catholic university provides a space where both reason and faith serve the development of the individual. The meeting of faith and reason in the service of the common good produces graduates who are confident, have a clarity about where they are headed, and who enter the world with a purpose
The Catholic Church played a foundational role in establishing the earliest universities in Europe dating back to the 12th century, and in the United States at the end of the 18th and early 19th centuries.
In “The Idea of a University” (1852), John Henry Cardinal Newman wrote that the University “is a place where inquiry is pushed forward, and discoveries verified and perfected, and rashness rendered innocuous, and error exposed, by the collision of mind with mind, and knowledge with knowledge.”
By the 1960s, the Second Vatican Council began asking Catholic Universities to reflect particularly on what it means to be Catholic in the modern world. This question has perhaps become more urgent in recent decades with the decline of vowed clergy and reliance on lay faculty to sustain Catholic institutions.