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Catholic Intellectual Tradition

The search for truth, meaning, and justice animates both the Catholic Intellectual Tradition and La Roche University. When asked what this tradition is, many have difficulty articulating its content or even its significant practitioners.

We know that from the earliest days of Christianity there has been a continuous dialogue between faith and cultures. By the Middle Ages one of the principal venues, in truth the steward of that ongoing dialogue, was the university, which arose “ex corde ecclesiae,” from the heart of the Church. However, it must be remembered that the Catholic Intellectual Tradition is broader than theology and much broader than the religious practices of Catholics.

The Tradition explores faith, knowledge, and reason and attempts to discern how they illuminate one another in the search for truth and meaning. Its corpus is vast and includes theological and philosophical thought, religious practices and rituals, literature, art, architecture and music; legal, social, and political theorizing and reasoning. It short, it examines any form of cultural expression that has emerged in any of the various parts of the world.

"For the tradition to achieve the wholeness to which it has aspired for two millennia, it must be engaged in the search for truth in every discipline and with all forms of belief and unbelief. It intends to be a living tradition, not static traditionalism. Likewise it aims to draw from the riches of the past to give life to the future.

The desire for truth that lies at the heart of the tradition demands that all assertions of truth, meaning, and purpose be tested by the best evidence against them—evidence that may be presented by anyone, of any or no religious tradition, who is engaged in serious inquiry.

People long for places where they can raise questions and explore ideas in an atmosphere of freedom and respect. The dialogue needs to be frank, open and authentic. It needs to engage all people, cultures, and traditions in authentic conversation—conversation undertaken in the belief that by talking across traditions we can grow in shared understanding that opens all parties to the possibility of changing their views.

It is the role of the Catholic Institution of higher learning to encourage all of its members to see their research, study, student formation, and administrative service in the context of the largest questions that can be asked about human life and the world in which we live. These include questions about the meaning of existence in the face of life’s fragility, about where we have come from and where we are going, and about what it means to lead a good life, to engage in fulfilling relationships, and to participate in community."