America’s newest Cardinal, Raymond Cardinal Burke, recently visited with students from the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts’ Rome Program in his office at the Congregation of the Apostolic Signatura.
Cardinal Burke briefly explained the work of the Congregation, and then allowed students to ask him questions on a whole range of topics, from the role of the Apostolic Signatura to their own role in the Church and the world.
Thomas More College senior Samuel Miloscia asked Cardinal Burke to comment on how Pope Benedict’s decision to elevate him to the rank of Cardinal would change his day to day duties. Cardinal Burke joked, “I think the work will increase a bit, but I hope not too much,” adding that the College of Cardinals is called the Pope’s “Senate,” and that his duties will expand to include that role.
Sophomore Matthew Jenkins asked what he considers to be his favorite “Great Book”, to which the archbishop replied, “St. Thomas Aquinas’ Summa Theologica¸” before admitting a great fondness for Mark Twain, as well.
In response to a question posed by Thomas More College Sophomore Marielle Gage, Cardinal Burke named secularism as the greatest challenge facing the Church today. He said that, “The Church has a great challenge… to witness to God, and to the order he has intended for the world from the moment of Creation,” for without the ordering of God in the world, society becomes disordered and violent.
Cardinal Burke also stressed the need to educate the public on moral issues, noting his own experience combating anti-life legislation in St. Louis. He said that society “will not survive without a restoration of the respect for human life. We cannot go on like this.”
Cardinal Burke emphasized the importance of having “a personal relationship with Christ,” strengthened by daily prayer and frequent reception of the Sacraments. “There is a profound joy and peace that comes into our lives simply by engaging daily in that conversion to Christ,” said Burke.
This week’s visit is not Cardinal Burke’s first contact with Thomas More College. He has visited the College’s Rome campus on two previous occasions, and will also serve as the keynote speaker at its President’s Council Dinner in Boston on December 4.
Dr. William Fahey, president of Thomas More College, said, “Thomas More College is deeply grateful to Cardinal Burke for taking time to visit with our students in Rome, and for allowing our students to interact with him in such an intimate and personal setting. We look forward to his continued guidance and support as we seek to develop in our students a profound love for Truth.”
For most of Thomas More College’s history, each sophomore has taken part in the school’s required Rome Semester to gain a first-hand experience of the capital of Christendom. Whether they are touring ancient pagan temples, navigating the catacombs that hold the bones of saints, or learning the Christian import of masterworks by Bernini and Michelangelo, students are guided by Thomas More College faculty to place each experience in the context of their broad, liberal arts education and the Catholic tradition.
Thomas More College’s Rome program is housed in a monastery just miles from the Vatican, where students interact daily with a community of monks—seeing firsthand the mode of life that gave birth to medieval academic culture.