Benedict’s upcoming trip to the United States not only provides an opportunity for the octogenarian Pope to visit with America’s head of state, it provides an occasion for the Pope to make significant reinforcements of Catholic educational policy while visiting Catholic University. Some of the biggest points for dissent in the American Catholic Church focus on the role and responsibility of Catholic Universities in the proper formation of religious values for Catholic youth. There is nothing accidental in the papal visit to Catholic University and educations in the United States and indeed the world should expect something rather definitive from the Holy Father when he joins us in April.
During this political season, there has been some confusion regarding the presence of anti-Catholic politicians making whistle stops to expound on their secular political theories at Catholic educational facilities. When Benedict XVI visits Catholic University next month, there will be no question whatsoever that the Bishop of Rome is teaching an important Catholic message that he expect to be emulated on all levels of academic education. We have experienced many similar statements by the Holy Father in respect to the importance of Catholic education and the need to adhere to the principles of Catholic teaching. Such pronounced papal presence will indeed show the important gravity the Pope holds towards the importance of Catholic educational institutions remaining faithful to their Catholic roots and purpose.

The United States in particular presents a perfect opportunity for the Holy Father to initiate a new campaign towards educational orthodoxy at all Catholic institutions. The social conundrum presented by such issues as birth control, the right to life for the unborn, euthanasia and Catholic confusing political alliances are all critical topics of discussion for the re-evangelization of the increasingly secular American Church, and to bolster deeper convictions among Catholic youth.

In the role of Head Teacher in the Catholic Church, the Holy Father knows well the great significance he holds on young people throughout the world. Increasingly, since the pontificate of John-Paul II, the Bishop of Rome has offered a theological and social challenge to the youth of the world. Benedict XVI presents a challenge to young Catholics in America and the rest of the world that calls them to intellectually accept the Catholic principles of moral and social justice, while joining these principles with a spiritual vocational awareness of global unity. Benedict XVI knows that the spes ecclesia, or the future of the Church rests squarely on the task of correct and proper evangelization and education of the Church’s young Catholics.

The fact that Benedict XVI is a celebrated octogenarian additionally offers paternalistic appeal to the young faithful he has encountered since his election. In contrast to John-Paul II, Benedict does not offer the demonstrated experiences with sports and outdoorsman ship, but he does offer a quiet and intellectual capacity for learning that make him a revered and respected figure with young Catholics. Not only is this demeanor often quiet and unassuming, but his pastoral teachings take on the context of valuable life lessons, integrated with a strong understanding of spiritual integration. It seems, Benedict XVI has struck a harmonious chord of common interest with his young followers.

With the visit to the Catholic University in Washington, Benedict XVI will present a challenge to not only Catholic educators to return to practicing traditional Catholicism, but will offer a life-challenge to the Church’s youth which will call them to an intellectual and a spiritual affirmation of the Church’s sacred beliefs. Truly, the visit to Catholic University is a significant moment in the papal visit intended to provoke a strong response from our Catholic youth.

Hugh McNichol is a Catholic author that writes on topics uniquely associated with Catholicism. He writes daily @ and

He welcomes comments and feedback on his musings. is his contact email.

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