On August 26, 2001, at the opening Mass of the Holy Spirit, His Excellency Paul S. Loverde, Bishop of the Diocese of Arlington, VA, amidst a standing-room-only congregation, received the Oath of Fidelity from Christendom’s entire faculty.
At the beginning of each new academic year, although not mandated by ecclesial law, Christendom College’s entire faculty, both graduate and undergraduate, voluntarily takes the Oath of Fidelity to the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. In fact, Christendom remains the only Catholic college in the nation whose entire faculty takes this oath annually.
The text of the Oath of Fidelity is that promulgated by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith: “On assuming the office of teacher at Christendom College, I promise that I shall always preserve communion with the Catholic Church in the words I speak or in the way I act….In carrying out my charge, I shall preserve the deposit of Faith in its entirety, hand it on faithfully, and make it shine forth. As a result, I shall shun whatsoever teachings are contrary….With Christian obedience, I shall associate myself with what is expressed by the holy shepherds as authentic doctors and teachers of the Faith, or established by them as the Church’s rulers.”
At a time in higher education when many people feel that there is a conflict between “academic freedom” and “religion,” Christendom College President Timothy T. O’Donnell says that there can be no real conflict between faith and reason.
“Faith comes from God, reason comes from God, and they’re meant to work in a harmonious fashion,” says O’Donnell. “So rather than seeing the Catholic faith as something that’s unintellectual, as though you have to set your reason aside if you’re going to be a Catholic, we say that’s nonsense, that reason can give faith a deeper insight into the mysteries of the Christian religion.”
Just prior to the recitation of the oath by the faculty, Bishop Loverde gave a beautiful homily, exhorting the students of the college to, in the words of Pope John Paul II, “be the Saints of the new millennium.”
“All of you are here, surely, to pursue academic excellence in a myriad of different fields,” said Bishop Loverde. “But, even more clearly, all of you are here to continue your education within a specifically Catholic, an authentically Catholic, context. The goal of education here is that you be formed and equipped to be an articulate committed disciple of Jesus Christ, a vibrant and joy-filled member of this Body of Chrst.”
His Excellency stressed to the 110 freshmen and 220 upperclassmen that their years at Christendom, “should be a time of discovery, a time of prayer and dialogue, as well as a time of intellectual growth in order to discover God’s Will” for them in their lives.
“In a few short years, each of you will be sent forth from this college to be “lights to the world,” and “salt of the earth.” God needs you, the Church needs you, and society needs you,” Bishop Loverde concluded.