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There are dozens of things that set Georgetown apart from other exceptional universities in the nation and in the world – including our Catholic identity. Yet in my time at Georgetown, I have found myself exceedingly disappointed with the way our university apologizes for being Catholic. Do not misunderstand me: I am proud of Georgetown’s identity, especially the way in which the campus community ensures that students of all faiths and beliefs not only feel welcome, but also thrive while on campus. As for our role in pioneering interreligious dialogue and discussion, Georgetown is unique. We do more than just give lip service to religious diversity; it is a goal and mindset that is affirmed every day on this campus, and I would expect nothing less from a university with a strong international focus situated in a global society increasingly characterized by pluralism. But in our quest to foster interreligious dialogue, we seem to have lost touch with the simple fact that Georgetown is a Catholic university. In a secular world (and by world, I speak to global culture as well as to the world of higher education and cynical college students), a Catholic university that successfully maintains global relevance is a rare find. This means Georgetown is afforded a critical opportunity. As an institution with such clout and prestige, Georgetown should be acting as a key player in the task of mediating between the Catholic Church and the rest of the world. It is time Georgetown started fully utilizing its potential to be a nexus between the Church and the global community. This is not an implausible goal – Georgetown already has all of the resources it needs, not the least of which are a strong reputation worldwide and a commitment to educating the whole person. We have just begun to tap into these resources, and a notable step took place earlier this month with the A Common Word conference, at which leaders of varying faith traditions met to discuss pragmatic approaches to easing tensions between the Western and Muslim worlds. These are the kinds of discussions that Georgetown is capable of, and should continue, fostering. The steps toward becoming this Catholic key player must start with on-campus policies. When President Obama came to speak last spring and the I.H.S. symbol (representative of Jesus Christ) in Gaston Hall was covered up by a black sheet behind him, it set off a heated discussion of issues that had long been boiling beneath the surface. Many were offended – whether or not it was the decision of the White House or the university. Literally and figuratively, we sought to cover up something that is intrinsic to our identity, and it didn’t look good. Nor did the university’s response reflect well, as the administration used White House officials as a scapegoat and argued over the semantics of color background. The more effective approach would have been for the university to apologize and recognize the blunder; this would have confirmed to the world, and to ourselves, that something we would never apologize for is our identity as a Catholic institution. The university should be actively seeking to debunk the myths that surround Catholicism and replace them with informed understanding , and in doing so help to quell the sentiment that Georgetown’s Catholic identity alienates other faith groups and detracts from its legitimacy as an institution. Beyond just clarification, there should be an explanation of the rich teachings that Catholicism has to offer to all people, regardless of religious affiliation. Our religious creed, however, is what makes us innately different from our prestigious – albeit secular – peers. During parents’ weekend, I sat in on a discussion with Fr. John Langan, S.J. about the Jesuit mission and ideology with the Georgetown community. Unsurprisingly, the room was full of parents who were products of Catholic education themselves. They lauded Georgetown’s tradition of instilling a sense of Jesuit ideals into its students. But they also expressed concern about the theology courses that the curriculum requires of students. Langan noted that all students must meet a theology requirement but that the basic introductory course, The Problem of God, does not have any set curriculum and varies greatly by professor. And while this is part of what makes the course so interesting and pluralistic, it’s simultaneously disheartening. For within this course the university has set up the potential for a useful framework to provide students from all walks of life an understanding of why attending a Catholic university is distinctive and enriching. Such background information need only take up the first few class sessions. But the failure to enact a unified curriculum is both a disservice to our Jesuit identity and to the students who could greatly benefit from hearing this – if only to contextualize their education and to decipher what ad majorem Dei glorium really means. Furthermore, Langan struggled to articulate to the room full of parents and students any concrete actions that Georgetown’s Jesuit community (or administration at large) had taken to assert its Catholic identity recently. Obviously the Catholic community on campus flourishes through the Catholic Student Association and comprehensive campus ministry and retreat programs. Through these programs, however, it seems Catholicism’s presence on campus is limited to particular groups. Instead, Catholicism ought to be the backdrop for all of our endeavors while at Georgetown. Don’t get me wrong – I am thrilled to attend a multifaceted university that has solid footing in so many spheres. I would not change Georgetown’s diversity or credo for anything; I simply feel that we sometimes hurt ourselves and miss out on unprecedented opportunities when we fail to use our Catholic identity to our advantage. Catholicism should not be the blemish on the visage of Georgetown: It is what makes us distinctive and exceptional, not something that holds us back. argaret Delaney is a sophomore in the College. *To send a letter to the editor on a recent campus issue or Hoya story or a viewpoint on any topic, contact []( Letters should not exceed 300 words, and viewpoints should be between 600 to 800 words.*

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