Skip to comments.New prelate urges more discussion, less dissent
Posted on 08/26/2009 7:59:46 PM PDT by OriginalChristian
Carlson says he has a duty to speak up in moral conflict By: Derrick Neuner Posted: 8/20/09
It's a new year at Saint Louis University, and along with changes occurring on campus, there has also been a change in the St. Louis Archdiocese. On June 10, after serving four years as bishop of the Diocese of Saginaw, Mich., Archbishop Robert J. Carlson was installed as the head of the St. Louis Catholic Church. As archbishop, Carlson will be responsible for over 550,000 Catholics and he will have a unique chance to interact with one of the nation's oldest and largest Jesuit institutions, SLU.
Carlson has a message for SLU students: It's time to build bridges. Carlson also said that the University should be a stimulating environment, and that students shouldn't cut each other down over differences.
"Ask the questions and extend the bridge," Carlson said. "The young people who go to SLU are blessed with people who can extend those bridges. That's why I think the university setting can be so stimulating."
Although Carlson is a relatively new face in the St. Louis Catholic community, he has already established SLU connections.
"I've already met President Biondi, and I think that I should and will partake in some of the activities that the University offers and be supportive of the presence of a significant university in the Archdiocese," Carlson said.
Carlson plans to preside over the Mass of the Holy Spirit, Thursday, Aug. 27, at St. Francis-Xavier College Church.
University President Lawrence Biondi, S.J., and Carlson's predecessor, Raymond L. Burke, had a rocky relationship that peaked after men's basketball head coach Rick Majerus attended a political rally for then-Senator Hillary Rodham Clinton. Both Biondi and Carlson stressed they will seek a productive and cordial relationship.
"It's my opinion that the relationship between SLU, its students, staff, faculty, deans, and administration and the Archdiocese should be candid, honest and centered on our Catholic and Jesuit mission of education and health care," Biondi said.
Should an issue of conflict arise, Carlson said that he does have a duty to step in and make his voice heard.
"For good or for bad, as archbishop, I am responsible for addressing morality in our time," he said. "For me not to speak would be as violent to faith as you could be. If you said, 'I don't agree with you,' I'd say let's talk about it. And then we're building bridges."
Carlson said that his career and faith has been deeply influenced by the Jesuit tradition, and that his current spiritual director is a Jesuit father. In addition, Carlson said that all universities, not just Catholic, have a responsibility toward pushing a student to ask questions and grow as a human being.
"Every university has the responsibility to the student to help you to, as the Church would say, grow to your full potential," he said.
In fact, Carlson already has experience teaching in a setting much like SLU. He said that one class he went through led to "one of the most powerful experiences I've ever had."
"I was teaching [Theology] 101 and I had a student give a presentation," he said. "She said, 'I may be the only person in this class that hasn't been blessed with the gift of faith.' And she looked at the rest of the students and she said, 'It seems you take it for granted and it really is a precious gift.'"
According to Carlson this type of self-examination is important to the religious experience.
"When a person asking good questions can make a personal commitment to faith you have something that's vibrant."
While some people at SLU can come to different conclusions from such questions, Carlson thinks SLU handles these contrasting perspectives well.
"What I think SLU does is help the students appreciate the dignity in each human being," he said. "If I disagree with someone, I approach them respectfully to have that conversation."
© Copyright 2009 St. Louis University News
Discussion without dissent. A reasonable beginning for a definition of ‘small talk.’
"Can't we all just get along?"