With the launching of the new Center for Faith and Public Life, we are encouraged to see the University visibly continuing to expand its academic breadth, and we are pleased that our Catholic campus is making strides to explore religious diversity and its influence on public affairs.

While we applaud the admirable goals of the Center, which are no doubt in line with those of the Jesuit tradition, it seems strange that the “platform party” at the launch failed to represent the religious diversity that this Center claims to promote.

According to the program for the launch, the Center for Faith and Public Life will be “anchored in the rich tradition of Catholic social thought and Jesuit spirituality” but “will respect diversity while promoting common good. The Center views faith as a way to link the University to local, national and international communities.”

Of the eighteen members of the platform party who were honored on stage Monday evening, only six were leaders within a religion. All of them were of the Catholic tradition, and half of them were of the Jesuit order. While it was an honor for the University to have them speak at the launch, these men were not necessarily representative of the religious and social diversity that this Center plans to explore in the near future.

Could there not have, additionally, been members of the Jewish, Muslim or Hindu communities present? Could faculty in the religious studies or sociology departments have contributed remarks?

Unfortunately, these diverse religious and academic communities were not represented at the event, leading some to question if the Center’s mission will ultimately be seen to fruition.

Though the launching of the new Center for Faith and Public Life has been clouded in controversy, we hope that the positive goals of the program, with respect to the maintenance of Jesuit ideals and the hope for further diversity, will weather the wave of controversy created within the student body and faculty.

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