The Ecclesial University is an idea, not an institution.
It is a way of approaching the Good, the True, and the Beautiful that is rooted in the life of the parish. It draws its energy from the parish, and seeks to serve and extend the arms of the parish into the world at large. In the Ecclesial University, the decisive source of authority is located in faith and the practice of the Church. Our end is to create a place for scholarship that is designed to manifest and promote a “perfectly ordered and harmonious enjoyment of God and of one another in God” (St. Augustine, City of God, Book 19).
The Ecclesial University makes theology central to its existence, and it celebrates and examines the creature/creator relationship in all the ideas it explores. Because the whole created order, and within that, the moral and intellectual order, participates in the one three-personed God, the Ecclesial University will seek a unified vision of the Christian intellectual life. It will also see theology, philosophy, literature and art as crucial to this vision. As the Queen of the Sciences, theology serves the other disciplines by attending to God, who is the creator of all reality, and by its confession that all truth is ultimately to be found in Christ, and all knowledge to be realized on our knees. Philosophy is a two-directional mediating discipline, seeking the metaphysical and epistemological unity of the other disciplines so that they might be properly ordered to the unified vision promised by theology. Literature and art will serve these two pillars of study, because theology and philosophy exist (sometimes most profoundly and poignantly) in poetic, narrative and visual modes of representation. Additionally, great literature and art shape the forms of our imagination that mediate our understanding of the world and of the Godhead.
In the idea of the Ecclesial University, we will not attempt to elicit consent to a non-controversial uniform body of material, but rather will work to develop a confessional, partisan, and Christ-centred perspective on topics crucial to the mission of the Church in the world. This perspective is intended to respectfully challenge the secular intellectual consensus, elicit dissenting opinions, and convert dissenters, while intending finally to claim the allegiance of the faithful. Here we will profess what we believe and why we believe the life of the world depends upon it.
The Ecclesial University is answerable to Christ and to the Body of Christ, which is the Church. We believe that this accountability is fostered best in relationships rooted in particular places bounded by parish boundaries. The Ecclesial University must vigorously dissent whenever the City of Man forgets, as it is all too prone to do, that earthly peace, to be real peace, must be related to the peace of God.