|St. Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, California|
No, the Land O' Lakes conference was organized by Holy Cross Father Theodore Hesburgh who was the president of Notre Dame University. It's purpose? To revamp the idea of a Catholic University and bring it into the "modern world."
Actually it was more about being accepted by the world and getting a hand in Uncle Sam's generous pockets. The way to do that was to separate the idea of Catholic education from Catholic authority which their statement did.
Fr. George Rutler has a terrific article about the conference at First Things today reminding us of the momentous impact of the conference's declaration of independence:
Like Horace’s mountains that gave birth to a ridiculous mouse, the 26 conference participants labored for three days and then declared portentously in the first line of their Statement: “The Catholic university today must be a university in the full modern sense of the word.” Then they rallied the rhetorical anesthetics at their disposal to call for “warm personal dialogue” and “a self-developing and self-deepening society of students and faculty in which the consequences of Christian truth are taken seriously in person-to-person relationships.” While these cadences anticipate the cobbling of what in our present time have come to be “safe spaces” for students and faculty fleeing from facts or ideas they find upsetting or offensive, the Statement then trumpeted its real message: “…the Catholic university must have a true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical, external to the academic community itself.”This was a modern equivalent of Lucifer's non serviam, "I will not serve!" And we can see the impact continuing today with the collapse of most Catholic colleges and universities under the same tyranny of mindless political correctness as their secular and Protestant equivalents.
It would be fitting today to pray for a return to authentic Catholic education and write a check to a real Catholic school. You can check them out at the Cardinal Newman Society. You may also want to read the society's Principles of Catholic Identity in Education which is their declaration of dependence on Jesus Christ and His church. Catholic education may be like a beached fish gasping for air, but there are still a few healthy fish swimming in the Catholic waters of baptism.