Jan. 25, 2011

Garvey Stresses Role of Virtue in Pursuit of Intellect

President Delivers Inaugural Address at Basilica

John Garvey delivers his inaugural address
President John Garvey delivers his inaugural address. View photo galleries. | Watch inauguration videos.

At his inauguration today as the 15th President of The Catholic University of America, John Garvey noted that "the cultivation of virtue prepares the ground for the work of the intellect."

During a Mass at the Basilica of the National Shrine of the Immaculate Conception, Garvey gave an address titled "Intellect and Virtue: The Idea of a Catholic University." During his speech, he observed, "it is virtue that leads the intellect to the right result, not the other way around."

"The measure of our success is how our graduates live their daily lives; do they pray and receive the sacraments; do they love the poor; do they observe the rest of the beatitudes?" said Garvey, who was appointed president last July.

Garvey said that like Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman 150 years ago, he seeks a different path for higher education than advocates of the "mixed or secular model of education." Whereas those in Cardinal Newman's day sought to keep religion out of the university curriculum, today "self-styled advocates of reason" seek to keep out discussions of virtue.

A modern meditation on Cardinal Newman's 1854 classic educational discourses "The Idea of a University," Garvey's address dealt with the argument that religion and science (faith and reason) are in opposition to each other, and that Catholic universities are said to face the challenge of "finding a place for bibles and papal decrees between our telescopes and microscopes."

The large audience at the Basilica listens to Garvey's address.

Decrying this view of Catholic higher education as "cartoonish," Garvey said part of the blame lies with Catholics themselves because, as he explained, "we have been so intent on defending ourselves against charges of fundamentalism and censorship that we have failed to create, let alone promote, a serious Catholic intellectual culture."

Garvey suggested that creating a Catholic intellectual culture is tied to an appreciation of and fostering of the interplay of intellect and virtue. He said virtue guides intellect, not the reverse, as some in academia suppose.

"We do not come to understand what is right, or good, or beautiful through mental exercises conducted from an armchair." But, he maintained, "the acquisition of virtue has a bearing on how we learn." He underscored the importance of fostering virtue on a Catholic college campus, calling for a recognition of the "essential connectedness of intellect and virtue."

Archbishop Allen Vigneron and Garvey shake hands following his investiture.

Garvey said the "intellectual life of a Catholic university is unique among institutions of higher education," and suggested why it is so, using the example of CUA. "The Catholic University of America is a university - a community of scholars united in a common effort to find goodness, truth and beauty."

From that intellectual life, he concluded, an intellectual culture can be formed. "The intellectual life, like the acquisition of virtue, is a communal (not a solitary) undertaking…The intellectual culture we create is the product of our collective effort. A Catholic intellectual culture will be something both distinctive and wonderful if we bring the right people into the conversation and we work really hard at it."

Garvey spoke to a large audience that included delegates from 80 colleges and universities, members of CUA's Board of Trustees, faculty, students, and staff.

The more than 100 concelebrants included Cardinal Francis E. George, archbishop of Chicago; Cardinal Sean P. O'Malley, archbishop of Boston; Cardinal Donald W. Wuerl, archbishop of Washington; Archbishop Pietro Sambi, apostolic nuncio; a dozen bishops; and two previous CUA presidents, Rev. William J. Byron, S.J., and Bishop David M. O'Connell, C.M., of Trenton, N.J.

The Benjamin T. Rome School of Music choir, choruses and symphony orchestra performed throughout the inaugural Mass. A Catholic journalist covering the inauguration called the music "majestic, triumphal, regal even."

Cardinal Donald Wuerl and Garvey
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The songs included "Holy God, We Praise Thy Name," set by Andrew Earle Simpson, professor of music and chair of theory-composition, and Horatius Bonar's "This is the Hour of Banquet and Song" by Leo Nestor, Justine Bayard Ward Professor and direct of the Institute of Sacred Music at CUA. The conductors were Nestor and David Searle, assistant professor of music and director of orchestral activities and conducting studies.
Most Rev. Allen H.Vigneron, archbishop of Detroit and CUA Board of Trustees chairman, conducted Garvey's investiture.

In his homily, Cardinal Wuerl warned that "the shadows of secularism and materialism" seek to eclipse the mission of Catholic education. Praising Garvey as a man with "a rich background of academic achievement, intellectual discipline, and professional competence," Wuerl said that "in the outpouring of the Spirit and with your direction, we might all be led more surely and confidently to a deeper and richer understanding of the Light."

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