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NY Post Op-Ed by Jim Towey: “A Teacher in Every Sense”

Tuesday, February 12, 2013

The news of Pope Benedict XVI’s resignation struck with the suddenness of grace.

Usually, a changing of the guard at the Vatican is preceded by a period where Catholics throughout the world grieve and the square of St. Peter’s overflows with pilgrims attending the Funeral Mass. But Catholics have come to expect the unexpected with Benedict and perhaps should have seen this coming.

Throughout his life, he has never been a prisoner to convention or stale ideas. He’s never feared scientific truth or engagement with modern culture. His three-volume “Jesus of Nazareth” is perhaps as fresh a take on the mystery of the person of the Christ as anything published in any age.

He is a theologian at heart, a teacher in every sense — and now he is teaching the Church Universal something about the papal office in the modern age, as well as his own limitations as shepherd.

Whereas John Paul II fearlessly lived his Parkinson’s infirmity in office to demonstrate that the great human dignity with which man is endowed is undiminished by disability, Benedict is teaching us about the need for clarity of mind and purity of heart in order to discern precisely what God is asking today of each of us.

That examination of conscience is required of popes and paupers alike, and his decision to resign was clearly the fruit of much prayer and contemplation.

His 26 years in academia prepared him for decisions like this by sharpening his appreciation for the pursuit of truth, excellence and beauty. That he would conclude on Sunday, at age 85, that he no longer has the strength and capacity to continue on the chair of St. Peter seems in hindsight to be utterly predictable.

Nonetheless, the news of Benedict’s resignation has a jarring quality to it as well as ample precedent.

The early Church was accustomed to the sudden departures of popes. In the third century, because of the cruel persecution of tyrants seeking to eradicate the Christian faith, there were five popes in the span of 10 years. Some were beheaded and all were elevated with the expectation of certain martyrdom.

Benedict’s announcement, in this context, seems far less dramatic. But it is no less momentous.

Those of us in Catholic education find ourselves already missing our beloved theologian-pope. He was a friend to us all.

I will never forget his remarks at a gathering of Catholic educators in Washington, DC: “A university or school’s Catholic identity is not simply a question of the number of Catholic students. It is a question of conviction — do we really believe that only in the mystery of the Word made flesh does the mystery of man truly become clear?”

He continued, “The church never tires of upholding the essential moral categories of right and wrong, without which hope could only wither, giving way to cold pragmatic calculations of utility which render the person little more than a pawn on some ideological chess-board.”

The truth of Benedict’s exhortation challenges all of us who labor at Catholic institutions of higher learning to shepherd our students toward a deeper understanding of what is asked of us, and what dangers are posed when society measures individuals based simply on their usefulness.

The pontificate of Pope Benedict XVI may be ending but the value of his teaching and the power of his witness to the Christian faithful will continue. His leaving the chair of St. Peter shocks us, and perhaps even saddens us, because we have grown accustomed to the lovely attraction of his words.

He served with a fearlessness and gentleness that were evangelical. His formidable intellect and gift of expression were from God.

He soon will enter a new stage in his life, one of quiet prayer and ascendant weakness as he prepares to return to the Father. He has mentored the multitudes across the continents for this very moment, and now it is his turn to embark.

He goes with our prayers and profound gratitude.

Jim Towey is president of Ave Maria University in Naples, Fla.

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The “Contraception Stamps” Entitlement Program

Thursday, February 7, 2013

President Obama wants to enlist all faith-based groups to be on the front lines of a new federal entitlement to free birth control for every woman in America. His only problem is, some of us refuse to serve.

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24-Hour Homerathon Reading

Thursday, February 7, 2013

Beginning Friday evening, Feb. 8, AMU students and faculty will be holding a "Homerathon" where all 24 books of "The Iliad" will be read aloud over a 24-hour period, ending at 6 p.m. on Saturday.

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Proposal to Amend ObamaCare Contraceptive Rule Met with Skepticism

Friday, February 1, 2013

AMU President Jim Towey quoted in article on Foxnews.com

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Ave Maria University Reacts to Latest HHS Compromise

Friday, February 1, 2013

Ave Maria University President Jim Towey responds to the latest compromise proposed by the Obama Administration and Health and Human Services Director Kathleen Sebelius.

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AMU Professor lectures at the Augustine Institute

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Dr. Michael Waldstein, Max Seckler Professor of Theology at Ave Maria University, presents a lecture at the Augustine Institute in Colorado. 

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Living Morally and Intelligently in the Light of Christ’s Eternal Glory

Friday, January 25, 2013

The Aquinas Center realizes the importance of St. Thomas Aquinas’s theology and philosophy for the deepening appropriation of Catholic speculative and moral theology. The Center reaches out to scholars and doctoral students around the world and bestows awards in recognition of their contributions to the study of Aquinas and Catholic intellectual and faith life.

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John M. Rist to Deliver 3rd Annual Aquinas Lecture in Philosophy

Wednesday, January 23, 2013

Professor John M. Rist, the first occupant of the Fr. Kurt Pritzl Chair of Philosophy at the Catholic University of America, and author of fifteen books and dozens of important scholarly articles in those areas, will give the Third Annual Aquinas Lecture on Monday, January 28, at 5pm in the Lecture Hall of the Academic Building.

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Professor Mary Ann Glendon: "Politics as a Vocation"

Tuesday, January 15, 2013

This Thursday, January 17, Professor Mary Ann Glendon will give the third lecture in this year’s Ernest L. Fortin, A.A., Lecture Series. Her lecture, titled “Politics as a Vocation,” will take place at 5:00 p.m. in the Demetree Auditorium in the Henkels Academic Building. Learned Hand Professor of Law at Harvard Law School and president of the Pontifical Academy of Social Sciences, Professor Glendon was appointed to the U.S. Commission on International Religious Freedom in May of 2012. From 2008 to 2009, she served as U.S. Ambassador to the Holy See and prior to that she was a member of President Bush’s Council on Bioethics (2001-2004). A prolific scholar, Professor Glendon writes and teaches in the fields of human rights, comparative law, constitutional law, and political theory. Among her works are Abortion and Divorce in Western Law (1989), the critically acclaimed Rights Talk: The Impoverishment of Political Discourse (1993), and A World Made New: Eleanor Roosevelt and the Universal Declaration of Human Rights (2002). Her lecture Thursday is drawn from her latest book, The Forum and the Tower (2011).

Sponsored by a grant from the Stuck with Virtue Conference Series, the Ernest L. Fortin Lecture Series is named after Fr. Ernest L. Fortin, A.A. Fr Fortin taught at Assumption College, Laval University, and Boston College, where he held joint appointments in the Theology and Political Science Departments and codirected the Institute for the Study of Politics and Religion. The author of books on Dante and St. Augustine, his collected essays have been published in four volumes. Focusing on the intersection of philosophical, theological, and political reflection, the lectures in this series explore the diverse but interrelated themes that animated Fr. Fortin’s life as a teacher and scholar.

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Study Abroad: Croatia

Friday, January 11, 2013

Applications are now being accepted for an AMU study abroad opportunity this summer, July 28 to Aug 17, in Sibenik, Croatia.

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