Yesterday we had an interview with the
reporter from the South China Morning Post. The question she asked were
revealing. One of the first questions was, “How does a Catholic University find
itself in China, and how is it received in this country where many people are
not only not Christian but not religious at all? They’re essentially agnostic. They
don’t know much about religion, don’t have views one way or another about it.
Is it difficult for a Catholic university to make the case here that
it’s a place that people from China would be comfortable?” In response, I
talked about the quality of Notre Dame as a great academic institution
independent of its distinctive Catholic foundations. But then, I did talk
about what does it mean to have a Catholic foundation to have everything
we do be informed by our Catholic roots our Catholic faith. I talked about how we
focus on the whole student not just on the intellect, and how our founder talked
about education as the art of bringing a young person to completion and what that
meant and why it was a different approach than some universities have. I
talked about our ability, our faculties ability to pursue truth in all of its
manifestations whether in faith or through reason and how we viewed those
two approaches not only as compatible, but actually as strengthening each other.
I talked about a commitment to ethics and moral leadership and moral behavior.
I talked about our commitment to social justice, to helping people who are in
special need of help because of prejudice or poverty or discrimination
or handicap or whatever it might be. When I ended the discussion of those
factors, atypical of the reporter she commented positively. Usually reporters don’t
comment on things you say they just ask questions, but I think she found it not
only intriguing but attractive to people in China.