It is clear to many that Georgetown in countless ways has ceased being a “Catholic” University. But this opinion piece in the student run newsmagazine “The Georgetown Voice” shows that the Jesuit school has now embraced the role of evangelist of the secular world to the Church rather than the other way around. The piece is entitled “GU’s no college of cardinal sins.”

When Pope Benedict XVI arrives in Washington next week, he will confront the continuing fallout from sexual abuse scandals and America’s prosecution of the war in Iraq, which has been opposed by the Catholic Church since its outset. We welcome the Holy Father’s attention to all of these issues. But another event on the Pope’s schedule is of even greater interest to Georgetown students, Catholic or not: his meeting with the presidents of Catholic universities. While he may be coming to chastise, the Pope could learn from our model of Catholic education.

Firstly, who said the Pope was coming to chastise? And I can’t wait to see what they think they have to teach the Pope? Do you think for one moment the authors of this piece thought that the Pope had anything to teach them?

Georgetown, which is among the more liberal Catholic schools—and the home of Fr. Peter Phan, a professor the Church reprimanded for writings that suggested other religions may offer salvation—might be a specific target.

But in a recent interview, Archbishop Pietro Sambi, the Vatican ambassador to the U.S., suggested that the speech will not be confrontational and criticized those who would use the Pope’s visit for their own political aims.

Conservative American Catholics, including the Cardinal Newman Society, which does not even consider Georgetown a Catholic university, would do well to listen.

Whatever the tone of the Pope’s address, Georgetown and President John DeGioia must continue to advocate for our approach to Catholic identity, one that balances the values of faith with the goals of excellent higher education and a commitment to diversity.

Catholic values must engage and exist in context, not cloister themselves away in monasteries disguised as colleges. To follow a conservative path and compromise the freedom of our faculty and students to express themselves, or to cut ourselves off from the wider worlds of academia and society, would be a fool’s errand. The Pope and the Church at large would do well to consider that lesson.

I am so angered by this I’m not thinking straight. What are they talking about? Let’s go over it point by point.

Fr. Peter Phan was reprimanded for denying the uniqueness of Christ. Is relativism the highest good of all? Must Goergetown students believe all religions are created equal? Does the free exchange of academic ideas include heresy?

Clearly, these students see a dichotomy between faith and reason as they point to “balancing” the religious role of the university with the academic one. The fact that Pope Benedict XVI might be one of the most brilliant theologians in the world doesn’t count for anything because he can’t compare with the brilliant Rev. Phan, I guess.

These students clearly believe that to follow their faith is to abandon academic pursuits. You know those guys like Augustine and Aquinas have nothing to offer the brilliant students at Georgetown today.

An editorial like this makes it all the more evident that Pope Benedict’s visit is necessary. As Jesus said, “He who has ears to hear, let him hear.” I think it’s time to listen.