Bishop Salvatore Cordileone speaks in the SMC Chapel.
Bishop Salvatore Cordileone of the Diocese of Oakland made his first visit to Saint Mary's College on April 14 to deliver a lecture that was a reflection on Pope Benedict XVI's encyclical Caritas in Veritate and its possible application to Saint Mary's in particular and Catholic higher education in general.
Bishop Cordileone, speaking in the Chapel to about 200 faculty, staff, students and visitors on "Caritas in Veritate: Economic Justice and Human Ecology," said that "truth has to do with correct understanding of the human person."
"We must order our society according to this hierarchy of values — that is, order our society correctly — if we are to attain authentic development and enduring justice," said the bishop, who was as the fifth speaker in the three-year Episcopal Lecture Series on Catholic Higher Education sponsored by the Bishop John S. Cummins Institute for Catholic Thought, Culture and Action and the John F. Henning Institute on Catholic Social Teaching.
The bishop noted that the first structure in human ecology is the family founded on marriage, and said that the Catholic understanding of education is that the school's role is to assist parents in educating their children.
"This relationship between the family and education is very meaningful for undergraduate education," Bishop Cordileone said. "College is a time when young people emerge into the world and start to stand on their own. It is a time of critical transition into full adulthood."
A college must have a "robust marriage culture," the bishop said.
"This understanding is essential to the mission of a Catholic college, as reflected in Saint Mary's College's own mission statement where it pledges: ‘to affirm and foster the Christian understanding of the human person which animates the educational mission of the Catholic Church.' There can be no correct understanding of social justice without first understanding the family founded on marriage, the first vital cell of society. … Inclusive excellence actually proceeds from the family founded on marriage as the reflection of the relational unity of the Trinity."
Bishop Cordileone said it is not enough from a Catholic perspective that young people just be smart or ambitious.
"We do them a great disservice if we teach them to be globally literate and culturally competent, but not virtuous; to be passionate, but not exercise moderation and self-restraint; to respect the integrity of the environment but not the integrity of marriage," he said.
In conclusion, Bishop Cordileone said, "As a Catholic institution of higher education, Saint Mary's College can serve the unique and invaluable role — as I truly believe God is calling you to do — of reversing our nation's slide toward self-destruction, serving as nothing less than an instrument of God's salvation by teaching our young people how to make the connections that promote a true human ecology."
Three professors gave remarks in response. Steve Cortright of the Integral Program and the philosophy department, suggested that the community read and discuss the lecture; Michael Barram, chair of the theology and religious studies department, asked about the relation between marriage and a just society; and Ted Tsukahara, the Integral Program director and an economics professor, commented on the role of ‘gift' in economics.
The bishop then took questions from several students.
Afterward, the bishop met with some individuals who had their own questions. Many said they were pleased with the bishop's remarks; several asked him for more clarity on the Church's position related to marriage and its role in a just society; and others said they disagreed with the Church's position but appreciated the bishop's visit.
Before a reception in his honor, Bishop Cordileone blessed students who asked for his pastoral blessing.
After the reception, Bishop Cordileone celebrated Mass in the College Chapel.
Bishop Cordileone expressed his delight at visiting the College and meeting community members. He returned the following Sunday to confirm several students.