Dialoguing from a Fixed Point: How Aristotle and Pope Francis Illuminate the Promise — and Limits — of Inclusion in Catholic Higher Education

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Matthew Richard Petrusek

Abstract

This article examines the meaning of the word inclusion as it relates to Catholic identity in higher education. Noting the widespread presence of this value in the mission statements of Catholic colleges, the article draws on insights from Aristotelian logic and Pope Francis’s theology of encounter to argue that inclusion can only be defined as a subordinate value to the value of establishing and maintaining a fixed institutional identity that is both uniquely Catholic and non-negotiable. Distinguishing between the concepts of procedural inclusion and substantive inclusion, the article contends that Catholic colleges have good reason to embrace inclusion so long as they recognize that, from a philosophical and theological perspective, exclusion is the condition for the possibility of creating a welcoming academic community. The article concludes by demonstrating how this insight applies to two institutional expression of Catholic identity, one from DePaul University in Chicago and the other from Benedictine College in Kansas.

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