Bishop's Distinguished Lecture

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Multitudo sapientium sanitas orbis.

A multitude of the wise is the health of the world.

Wisdom 6:6

The Bishop's Distinguished Lecture is held on the campus of the University of Victoria which is located in the Diocese of Victoria, British Columbia, Canada.

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His Excellency Bishop Gary Gordon

17th Bishop of Victoria

Motto: Communio


The Catholic Diocese of Victoria comprises the whole of Vancouver Island, the islands off the west coast and the islands to the west of the main shipping channel up the Inside Passage. The Diocese of Victoria ministers to approximately 94,000 Catholics.

"The synthesis between culture and faith is not only a demand of culture but also of faith, because a faith that does not become culture is not fully accepted, not entirely thought out, not faithfully lived" (John Paul II, Post-Synodal Apostolic Exhortation, Ecclesia in Africa, 1995, n. 78). 

An interview with Dr. Paul Shrimpton, author of "The 'Making of Men': The Idea and Reality of Newman’s University in Oxford and Dublin"


Edward Short [CWR]: What would you regard as the true essence of Newman’s idea of university education?


Shrimpton: The true essence of Newman’s idea of university education is encapsulated in his educational classic The Idea of University, but for its fully flourishing form you have to read his Rise and Progress of Universities and see what he achieved in Dublin. My book focuses on the latter, the full university education, rather than on the former, the essence. With that proviso, a very brief sketch would be something like this:


University education requires teachers and students. The subject matter is all knowledge, and although it is impossible to have all subjects represented, no major subject should be excluded on principle. The university is not primarily a research institution: it is a place where young people come to learn to think, to be “properly trained and formed to have a connected view or grasp of things.” Knowledge is an end in itself, and the university does not need to be justified by considerations of a utilitarian nature. In the course of providing “real cultivation of mind” and training in intellectual virtues, a proper university education will help the student acquire “a faculty of entering with comparative ease into any subject of thought, and of taking up with aptitude any science or profession.” In this sense, university education is useful because intellectual virtues are goods which have an intrinsic economic and social usefulness, even if this usefulness is not their main aim.


Newman’s attitude is summed up in his working principle that “though the useful is not always good, the good is always useful.” This liberal education also provides training in social virtues: it “makes the gentleman” (but not necessarily the Christian). So, if “a practical end must be assigned to a university course, I say it is that of training good members of society. Its art is the art of social life, and its end is fitness for the world.” While admitting the theoretical autonomy of knowledge from morality—the university is not there to make men good, but to teach them to think—Newman maintains that in practice a link exists between them. Neither is there a clear division between the natural and supernatural orders: “We attain to heaven by using this world well, though it is to pass away; we perfect our nature, not by undoing it, but by adding to it what is more than nature, and directing it towards aims higher than its own.” In both cases education entails benefits which extend beyond the purely intellectual.