50 years of dissent: How the Land O’Lakes statement affected Catholic colleges

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Fifty years ago, a group of Catholic university leaders signed the “Land O’Lakes Statement.” Since that signing, most Catholic colleges have lost their distinctive identity.

It was meant to modernize universities and carry out the vision of the Second Vatican Council, but the “Land O’Lakes Statement,” released 50 years ago July 23, has instead contributed to a range of unintended consequences, including a loss of their distinctive identity for many of the top institutions of Catholic higher education.

“On the one hand, in many respects, Catholic universities are better than ever in terms of financial resources, scholarly productivity and the beauty of campuses. On the other hand, Catholic identity in terms of faculty, students and commitment to the liberal arts continues to weaken,” said Christopher Kaczor, a professor of philosophy at Loyola Marymount University.

The often-criticized statement was formulated during a period when many Catholic academics were bridling against the conception that Catholic universities must serve as beacons of fidelity.

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