A journal of academic theology

Theodore M. Hesburgh, Theologian: Revisiting Land O’Lakes Fifty Years Later

Theodore M. Hesburgh, CSC, was the driving force behind the 1967 Land O’Lakes Statement—a watershed document that affirmed both the distinctive identity of Catholic universities and the “true autonomy and academic freedom” they needed to excel. This article explores the prominent role of theology in the Land O’Lakes Statement by means of an examination of Hesburgh’s specifically theological commitments. Attending first to the status of Catholic theology in the early twentieth century, the article considers Hesburgh’s neo-Scholastic formation, his early work on the theology of the laity, and the evolution of his thinking as president of the University of Notre Dame. It concludes that the category of mediation, present in Hesburgh’s earliest work, would come to ground the dialogical role he thought theology had to play to ensure the nature and mission of the contemporary Catholic university.

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