Catholic Social Thought
In a deeply pluralistic world, the search for solutions to urgent social problems tend to be built on individualistic presuppositions that work against the common good. There is thus a need to advance the common good by building bonds of solidarity and creating a shared moral vision. The tradition of Catholic Social Thought, in its commitment to the notion of human interdependence in community, is positioned to address this need.
In the context of the university as a locus of the search for truth, solidarity takes on the meaning of intellectual solidarity, which entails a "willingness to take other persons seriously enough to engage them in a conversation and debate about what makes life worth living, including what will make for the good of our deeply interdependent public life."¹ And where such conversation is engaged across diverse boundaries, a community of freedom begins to exist. The principal forum where this can happen is the university, and thus the Catholic university ought to embody such a discourse in a preeminent way by virtue of its nature as a university and its identity as Catholic.
The intellectual solidarity fostered in the university must be accompanied by social solidarity that opens it to the world of poverty and suffering. This solidarity goes beyond a mere citation in the university's mission statement; it must be instituted in its teaching, curriculum, research and service. Embodying the intellectual and social dimensions of solidarity as a form of commitment to the common good constitutes a great challenge as well as an opportunity in the life of Catholic universities today.