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The 10 Most Liberal Catholic Colleges in America

By    |   Thursday, 07 May 2015 02:51 PM

Among Christian colleges, Catholic institutions show perhaps the widest range of social, theological, and political perceptions of the various religious denominations common in the United States.

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The long history of the Roman Catholic church has inevitably resulted in the development of varied schools of thought, and of a diversity of opinion within those schools. So, though Franciscans are often thought of as more liberal, possibly the most conservative Catholic school is Franciscan University.

Many of the institutions on this list are run by Jesuits, who are often known for dogmatism and the Inquisition, which they effectively took over from the Dominicans. Today's Pope Francis, the most liberal pope the Church has known, is a Jesuit.

All the colleges listed are overtly, often passionately Catholic, and all of them promote tolerance, diversity, and free-ranging intellectual inquiry.

Loyola Marymount University, Los Angeles, California

This school sits high on a bluff overlooking the beaches of the Santa Monica Bay and can count a famous law school among its divisions. As they note, "By intention and philosophy, we invite men and women diverse in talents, interests, and cultural backgrounds to enrich our educational community and advance our mission," which includes "the promotion of justice." According to a Los Angeles Times article, LMU's recently-retired president, David W. Burcham, is a Protestant.

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Walsh University, North Canton, Ohio
Walsh promises a small but diverse academic community that "fosters critical thinking, effective communication, [and] spiritual growth," along with personal and cultural development.

Fordham University, New York, New York
"The Jesuit University of New York," as its subheading proclaims it, is surprisingly liberal. According to its website, Fordham "seeks to foster in all its students life-long habits of careful observation, critical thinking, creativity, moral reflection and articulate expression.” The National Catholic Reporter published an article exploring a faculty group's recently circulated petition, in which they urged the school administration to rescind an honorary degree granted to John O. Brennan. Brennan was involved in defending CIA torture of terrorism suspects.

Saint Xavier University, Chicago, Illinois

Saint Xavier promotes critical thinking in hopes that its graduates will "serve wisely and compassionately in support of human dignity and the common good,” according to its website.

University of St. Thomas, Houston, Texas

St. Thomas is "committed to the Catholic intellectual tradition and the dialogue between faith and reason," and fosters "engagement in a diverse, collaborative community,” states its website.

Le Moyne, Syracuse, New York
Le Moyne places an emphasis on social justice, and promises its students that they will connect "with some students who will share your values and others who will teach you to look at things in another way,” according to LeMoyne.edu.

Boston College, Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts
On the Boston College website, the mission statement says that the school aims to “educate a new generation of leaders—men and women who will be capable of shaping the future with vision, justice, and charity—with a sense of calling, with concern for all of the human family."

De Sales, Center Valley, Pennsylvania
One of the few Christian colleges of any sect to use the word "humanism" positively in its mission statement, DeSales intends to foster "a vital and respectful dialogue between Roman Catholic faith and human culture."

Mt. St. Mary's University, Emmitsburg, Maryland
At Mt. St. Mary’s University, students are supported in their intellectual endeavors. According to its website, the school "encourages each student to undertake free and rigorous inquiry leading to a reflective and creative understanding of the traditions which shape the communities in which we live.”

University of Dallas, Irving, Texas
The Unversity of Dallas strives to balance faith with learning. According to its mission statement, it "seeks to maintain the dialogue of faith and reason in its curriculum" and holds the door open to "faculty and students of all denominations, and… supports their academic and religious freedom."

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Among Christian colleges, Catholic institutions show perhaps the widest range of social, theological, and political perceptions of the various religious denominations common in the United States.
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