The Motley Monk
Over at Fr. Z’s blog, there’s a great photo album posted by the Canons Regular of St. John Cantius Parish (Archdiocese of Chicago). The photographs contained in the album were taken as rose petals descended from the church’s ceiling upon the congregation below.
As Fr. Z explains the ritual, it developed for the Solemnity of Pentecost in the Pantheon (now a minor basilica called S. Maria ad martyres). Rose petals are dropped through the circular oculus opening at the top of the dome, which is the widest in all of Rome. The petals descend upon the congregation below, reminding its members of the descent of the Holy Spirit like tongues of flame.
In the picture below, study carefully the faces of the little girl and boy.
Now study carefully the surprise, delight, and glee on the faces of the children in the church’s main aisle.
It’s obvious this ritual has struck a sense of awe and wonder into these young people, opening their consciouness if not their souls to the mystery surrounding the birth of the Church on Pentecost Sunday.
Over the past five-plus decades, how often has Rudolph Otto’s description of the “awe and wonder” (tremendum et facinans) that is experienced upon encountering the Holy been demonstrably visible on the faces and in the behavior of young congregants?
During those decades since the Second Vatican Council, have all of those guitar Masses, puppet Masses, and even those clown Masses struck young congregants with that sense of awe and wonder that’s evident in these photographs?
When it came to evangelizing young people through the Mass, the architect of the so-called “reformed” liturgy, Cardinal Annibale Bugnini, may have made the Mass more relevant by a worldly standard by appealing to the masses (pardon the pun).
But, he very well have thrown the baby away with the bathwater by a spiritual standard.
To read Fr. Z’s blog, click on the following link:
To view the photo album, click on the following link:
According to Vatican Insider, Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga of Honduras isn’t very much happy with climate change skeptics in the U.S.A. who have expressed their reservations concerning Pope Francis’ cozy relationship with those who worship at the altar of environmentalism over at the United Nations.
Cardinal Maradiaga is especially chagrined by those “movements in the United States” he apparently observed during a recent trip to the U.S.
In the Cardinal’s view, members of those movements have had the temerity to express their concern about this cozy relationship and its potential to influence the Pope’s upcoming encyclical letter concerning the environment. Those people are “absurd,” the Cardinal opined:
The ideology surrounding environmental issues is too tied to a capitalism that doesn’t want to stop ruining the environment because they don’t want to give up their profits: these criticisms make no sense! How can they criticise a text they do not even know?
Indeed, if there is climate change, it’s all due to greedy capitalists. Cardinal Maradiaga sounds like Nikita Khrushchev, Fidel Castro, and Che Guevara, all wrapped up into one, doesn’t he?
The Cardinal also apparently fashions himself to be a meteorologist and/or climate scientist. Last week at the Caritas International confab in Rome, Maradiaga challenged the debate swirling around the scientific basis for man-made climate change:
There is a big discussion about whether global warming is scientific or not, but speak to the taxi driver who drove me here today and he’ll tell you the temperature in Rome is not typical of spring; think of the Philippines where there were 21 typhoons this year and in California water is being rationed. This proves that the issue needs to be taken seriously. (italics added)
Perhaps Cardinal Maradiaga should meet the founder of The Weather Channel, John Coleman, to discuss the other point of view.
In 2014, Coleman was a featured speaker at the Ninth International Conference on Climate Change. Listen to Coleman’s presentation about how the global warming frenzy began:
Also, check out Coleman’s two documentaries debunking the global warming scare:
Of course, those who worship at the altar of environmentalism dismiss Coleman’s facts because their dogma posits the opposite.
Some good news (perhaps). Sandro Magister is reporting that the Pope’s encyclical has been drafted, but he has rejected that text and sent it back to be rewritten. Why? Pope Francis fears the head of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, Cardinal Ludwig Müller would “demolish” it.
Let’s hope so if the first draft reflects Cardinal Maradiaga’s “proof.”
To read the Vatican Insider article, click on the following link:
To read Sandro Magister’s article, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
Imagine the leaders of a Catholic high school having the audacity to bring in a speaker to inform the student body about the nature of the horrific violence being perpetrated against people in the Middle East, in general, and Christians and Assyrian Catholics, in particular.
Yet, according to some of parents, that’s what happened a couple of weeks back at Junipero Serra Catholic High School (JSCHS), a Catholic college prep school located in San Mateo, California.
As a Catholic school, JSCHS leadership believed it important to inform the student body about these atrocities against humanity, in general, and fellow Catholics, in particular. So, they invited Mrs. Juliana Taimoorazy to address students concerning the nature of the horrific violence being perpetrated against people in the Middle East.
Mrs. Taimoorazy’s narrative was particularly compelling because, being Assyrian, she is a member of one of the longest-living ethnic groups on Earth. For ISIS radicals, Assyrian Catholics are overt targets. Mrs. Taimoorazy related, among other things, that the Muslims will hold parents captive and then proceed to cook and eat their children in front of them. Taimoorazy has lost a couple of her own children as well as her grandparents to the Muslims. Some students found Mrs. Taimoorazy’s presentation compelling and motivating, having the effect of putting the fear of God in them.
Evidently, that description of “Muslims” didn’t set well with some parents of JSCHS students who are of Middle-Eastern descent and/or are Muslim. Hearing reports about the speaker’s narrative, some of those parents were outraged, claiming the speaker’s narrative negatively portrayed Muslims, in general, and negatively affected their families, in particular.
Events conspired to devolve to the point that JSCHS’s “Head of Faith Formation,” Patrick Reidy, felt impelled to reiterate to the JSCHS student body the following Monday
….that JSerra Catholic High School’s intention for Friday’s presentation was to raise awareness about the gruesome massacres occurring in the Middle East. In no way did the school intend to be political. Rather, we hoped that the JSerra community would become more acutely aware of the extremism that is brutalizing all of our brothers and sisters in the human family so that we can pray for them and assist them in creative and generous ways.
Reidy then sent an email to the parents of JSCHS students in which Reidy expressed his “heartfelt sorrow for the way recent events may have immediately affected your own family” noting that this “is deeply distressing for all of us here.” Reidy proceeded to blame Mrs. Taimoorazy for the brouhaha. He wrote:
Our speaker focused on the attacks against Christians and was not inclusive of the other peoples that have been terrorized by radical groups such as ISIS. Furthermore, she did not always distinguish clearly between radical Islamic groups and ordinary Muslims. This is a necessary distinction to make. (italics added)
Step back for a moment. Imagine Catholic parents of students enrolled in a Muslim school complaining that they’re offended that a Muslim speaker detailed the atrocities perpetrated upon Muslims by the Crusaders. Should those parents of Catholic students expect that the leadership of that Muslim school would apologize for not being “inclusive” enough of them and not carefully distinguishing between Crusaders and ordinary Catholics?
To ensure that Mrs. Taimoorazy’s message will be revised appropriately for JSCHS students, Reidy noted:
We have been following up in our Religion and History classes to make sure that our students know that there is a distinction. We also want to help them process the emotional content of these outrages, the irrationality of which can seem impossible to imagine.
Yes, indeed. JSCHS students need to “process” the “emotional content of these outrages.” But, apparently not from the perspective of what Christians and Catholics are being compelled to endure, but from what some JSCHS students interpreted Mrs. Tiamoorazy’s message to imply about them and their families as well as what some JSCHS students felt compelled to do to some of their fellow students.
To punctuate his message of contrition, Reidy closed his email, stating:
I hope that you know that JSerra welcomes all families of all religious beliefs and does not equate Islam with ISIS. Nor do we or will we at any time tolerate taunting, harassing, belittling or bullying of anyone based on their ethnicity or religious beliefs. As followers of Jesus Christ we find any such behavior inconsistent with the dignity of the human person and morally unacceptable.
What does “taunting, harassing, belittling or bullying” have to do with Mrs. Taimoorazy’s presentation in a Catholic school about what Christians and Catholics are enduring at the hands of Muslims (or, must it be said because people don’t already understand the distinction, radical Muslims)? If some JSCHS students left her presentation believing she was encouaging them to engage in thuggery, then those students should be dealt with as thugs should and ought to be dealt with.
But, to blame Mrs. Taimoorazy for their conduct and to apologize to the point of telling the JSCHS student body that she had been one-sided in her presentation?
That seems to be inclusion run awry.
What will be next? Apologizing to those who claim that Junipero Serra was a prejudiced, bigoted anti-Native American who thought they needed to be imprisoned and brainwashed if they were to be civilized?
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
Over at Catholic Education Daily, Kimberly Scharfenberger has done a yeowoman’s job in culling together some data concerning the nation’s Catholic colleges and law schools:
- They boast 65 alumni who are members of the U.S. House of Representatives.
- That’s 15% of the House’s membership, twice the number of Catholic 4-year institutions of higher education in the United States.
Is that political clout something about which the Church should be proud?
Scharfenberger reports that 50%+ of these Catholic college alumni/ae—38 to be precise—have votes on abortion that “should mortify their alma maters.”
Pro-abortion organizations such as the National Abortion Rights Action League (NARAL) and Planned Parenthood have rated most of those 38 alumni/ae at 100%. In contrast, the National Right to Life Committee (NRLC) has rated many of them at 0% when the vote comes to significant life-related issues.
Here’s the roll call of those 38 members of the U.S. House of Representatives who were educated at Catholic institutions and have consistently voted in favor of abortion rights:
- Brad Ashford (NE)
- Brendan Boyle (PA)
- Mike Capuano (MA)
- David Cicilline(RI)
- Gerry Connolly (VA)
- John Delaney (MD)
- Rosa DeLauro (CN)
- Mark DeSaulnier (CA)
- Deborah Dingell (MI)
- Sam Farr (CA)
- Lois Frankel (FL)
- Steny Hoyer (MD)
- Jared Huffman (CA)
- Hakeem Jeffries (NY)
- Eddie Bernice Johnson(TX)
- Bill Keating (MA)
- Ann McLane Kuster (NH)
- Ted Lieu (CA)
- Zoe Lofgren (CA)
- Stephen Lynch (MA)
- Sean Patrick Maloney(NY)
- Betty McCollum (MN)
- Gwen Moore (WI)
- Jerrold Nadler (NY)
- Rick Nolan (MN)
- Bill Pascrell (NJ)
- Nancy Pelosi(CA)
- Mike Quigley (IL)
- Charles Rangel (NY)
- Kathleen Rice (NY)
- Bobby Scott(VA)
- Albio Sires (NJ)
- Adam Smith(WA)
- Chris Van Hollen (MD)
- Juan Vargas(CA)
- Filemon Vela, Jr.(TX)
- Pete Visclosky(IN)
- Peter Welch(VT)
Another interesting factoid: Of those 38, 27 attended Jesuit institutions. 11 of them—25%—attended Georgetown University.
Something about which the Church should be proud? No.
About which the Church should boast? No.
Something those institutions should honor? No.
But, why did those obviously bright women and men choose to attend Catholic institutions in the first place? It mustn’t have been to learn to think about important matters—like the law and significant life issues—as Catholics do, to paraphrase Blessed John Henry Newman in his Idea of the University and St. John Paul II in Ex Corde Ecclesiae. Or, for that matter, natural law.
No, it must’ve been the institution’s reputation, the prestige associated with the degree awarded, and other such worldly honors and accolades.
“By their fruits you will know them” (Matthew 7:16).
To read Kimberly Scharfenberger’s article, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
Over at The Wanderer, James J. Kirkpatrick has written a defense of San Francisco’s Archbishop, Salvatore Cordileone, for injecting a so-called “morality clause” into the contract of archdiocesan teachers. Archbishop Cordileone has come under heavy fire from activists—including some self-identified “prominent” Catholics—who claim the clause would “create a repressive environment in which not only dissent, but any critical thought, robust exchange of ideas and genuine dialogue are discouraged and punishable by loss of livelihood.”
All Archbishop Cordileone apparently has required is that employees of San Francisco’s archdiocesan schools “conform their hearts, minds and consciences, as well as their public and private behavior, ever more closely to the truths taught by the Catholic Church.” These moral issues include “adultery, masturbation, fornication, the viewing of pornography and homosexual relations” as well as “the definition of marriage as the union of one man and one woman.”
Presumably, Kirkpatrick accurately assesses that
…this is not the understanding of the role of teachers of secular subjects in Catholic schools held by those protesting Archbishop Cordileone’s morality clause in San Francisco; they do not see the teachers of secular subjects as “ministers” of the Catholic faith.
Yes, the ideal is that “practical” Catholics (defined by Kirkpatrick as “loyal to…Church teaching”) should be teaching every course in the curriculum. It is also quite likely that those who protest the Archbishop’s mandate don’t hold that view.
The issue isn’t just who is teaching those courses, as the ideal is that every employee appreciates one’s ministerial role simply because the school is a Catholic school.
Why? Contrary to Mr. Kirkpatrick’s assessment, the subject taught in Catholic schools is not the various academic disciplines comprising the curriculum. No, the subject taught is each and every student enrolled in the school.
Those who work in Catholic schools are charged with forming what the Church calls an “integral person,” that is, a person whose mind, body, and soul are imbued with the truth as revealed by the Gospel as well as the truths unveiled by human arts and sciences.
In this sense, administrators, teachers, and staff members of a Catholic school aren’t just “professionals” but also are a community of adult “ministers” who collaborate in forming integral persons and, at a minimum, each according to one’s contractual responsibilities. If “practical” Catholics aren’t available, there are many “practical” non-Catholics and non-Christians who might very much desire to minister in this way to the students enrolled in Catholic schools. Certainly this is not the ideal, but preferable to a community of adults who are, at best, “Catholic In Name Only.”
But, Kirkpatrick veers away from the facts when he asks whether this ideal is a realistic possibility or even necessary, in every instance. Yes, as he notes,
It doesn’t make sense for a Catholic school to hire teachers of subjects such as those who are going to devote their classes to promulgating a worldview indistinguishable from what is taught at a “progressive” academy in Greenwich Village or Berkeley.
He then adds:
That is not the reason why Catholic parents send their children to Catholic schools.
Really? For decades, research findings have been rather consistent: Parents send their children to Catholic schools for a number of reasons. In general order of preference, these include: a strong academic reputation; a climate characterized by order and discipline; teachers who care; and, a sense of community that emphasizes generic, pan-Protestant values. Teaching and practicing the Catholic faith appears very low in the list of reasons (anywhere from 10th to 15th).
Reminiscing a bit about his five brothers and sisters, all of whom graduated from their parish elementary school in the late 1950s and 60s, Kirkpatrick notes:
…we could chose [sic] from literally dozens of Catholic high schools in New York City, run by many different orders of priests and religious brothers and sisters: Jesuits, Marists, Christian Brothers, Dominican Sisters, and the Congregation of the Sisters of St. Joseph, for starters. It was pretty much the same during the years I taught at a Catholic high school in the Bronx in the mid-1960s.
Once again, Kirkpatrick is accurate in that many people do “call those years the ‘golden age’ of Catholic education in the United States.” And perhaps they were. He is also accurate when assessing that
…there were very few laymen who taught with me who considered themselves “ministers” of the faith. In fact, not all practiced their faith. Not all were Catholics. More than a few dissented from the Church’s teachings on contraception, divorce and remarriage, and abortion.
But, Kirkpatrick may not be as accurate as he believes in his assessment that
All of them…would have accepted—some more compliantly than others—a requirement that they not use their classes to proselytize anti-Catholic views; all would accept the proposition that they serve as models of good behavior and solid citizenship in their role as teachers. All would agree that they had a responsibility to teach academically sound courses. (italics added)
Today, the sad fact is that many graduates of those Catholic schools Kirkpatrick laments having passed from the scene are not “practical” Catholics but hold dubious moral positions that align better with those of liberal Protestantism. Nancy Pelosi and Dick Durbin are but two examples of “prominent Catholics” who had nearly the same educational experience about which Mr. Kirkpatrick reminisces…all the way through Catholic college and graduate school.
In fact, the research once again is pretty clear that, beginning in the mid- to late- 1960s—as the transition to lay faculty started—those who have taught in Catholic schools have been eerily similar to the public at large in terms of their attitudes about Catholic moral teaching, in general, and the very matters Archbishop Cordileone has contractually mandated, in particular.
Apparently, those teachers weren’t quite as willing to comply with keeping their moral opinions to themselves. One outcome of this transition has evidenced scores on standardized tests of basic knowledge of the Catholic faith and its practices have for the most part demonstrated no significant difference between graduates of Catholic elementary and high schools and those who attended parish religious education programs.
Embarrassing but true.
In retrospect, that “Golden Age” about which Kirkpatrick reminisces may not have been so golden, after all. It may have been in some respects, but not quite as golden as Kirkpatrick implies.
Yes, it would be a tremendous boon to the Church if, as Kirkpatrick notes,
…the religion courses were sound, and the social studies and literature courses were supportive of Catholic values, and the Mass and the rosary were regular parts of the students’ lives, the school was solidly Catholic, worth every dollar in tuition payments.
In most locales. there simply aren’t a sufficient number of those “practical Catholic” parents whom Kirkpatrick identifies as “looking for a solidly Catholic environment for their children” for parishes to operate the kind of Catholic school he envisions.
Perhaps the more challenging and difficult truth that must be considered in light of the signs of the times is that, in face of the fact that many so-called “Catholic” schools are “Catholic in Name Only,” perhaps the Church should stop sponsoring educational institutions. After all, finding qualified personnel has been a perennial problem for Catholic schools. Paying a just wage to those who are qualified and willing to teach in Catholic schools has also been a perennial problem for Catholic schools. Building and funding those schools has been yet another perennial problem for Catholic schools.
The Church has an interest in the moral education of baptized children, not necessarily in building Catholic schools to do that. Parents possess a prior right to educate their children as they see fit and when it come to the moral education of Catholic children, the Church must figure out how best to support parents in what is their prior right.
Confronting a new age having different challenges may require discerning more effective ways to catechize children and young adults so that one day, they will be the kind of “practical” adult Catholics that all of us would hope they would be. After all, they’re going to be the Church’s future if it’s to be a Catholic Church.
To read James J. Kirkpatrick’s article in the Wanderer, click on the following link:
To read about the reaction to Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone’s mandate, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
My thesis is as simple as it is straightforward: The Roman Catholic Church should accept no federal dollars.
My response to the naysayers is equally simple and straightforward, per Amanda Hocking in My Blood Approves: “When you dance with the devil, the devil doesn’t change. The devil changes you.”
Consider the nation’s largest resettlement agency, the USCCB’s Migration and Refugee Services (MRS).
MRS estimates that between October 1, 2013, and September 30, 2014, ~90k young illegal immigrants crossed the border. To deal with the human needs associated with this influx, MRS had a budget of ~$71M (~$789/illegal immigrant).
However, 93% of that ~$71M—$66M–flowed into MRS from the federal government’s spigot. MRS argued that they needed this infusion of federal $$$s to assist the federal government to provide care for unaccompanied, young illegal immigrants.
Supporters of MRS ask: “Who could possibly disagree, except for heartless, anti-immigrant, xenophobes?” Then, too: “The federal government is pouring that money into a charitable, religious organization to provide much-needed services that the feds couldn’t possibly provide. You don’t want to expand the size and scope of government, do you?”
Sounds similar to subsidizing faith-based organizations, a central policy objective of the George W. Bush administration.
There’s one, very big problem, however. MRS must provide those services in ways that are consistent with Church teaching.
So, what’s going to happen when unaccompanied, young, illegal immigrant, females get pregnant? Those federal $$$s require that those females receive “reproductive care,” including contraception, emergency contraception, and abortion.
The USCCB rightly argues that such a requirement violates freedom of religion since contraception, emergency contraception, and abortion are against the Church teaching.
However, that argument may matter not one whit.
Why? The American Civil Liberties Union (ALCU) has filed a suit in a federal court “to order the federal government to release documents related to how groups that are awarded government funding contracts are restricting refugee and undocumented immigrant teenagers’ access to reproductive health services, including contraception and abortion.”
A senior staff attorney with the ACLU Reproductive Freedom Project, Brigitte Amiri, told Breitbart News, “Religious freedom does not include the right to take a government contract that requires providing access to health care, and then refuse to provide a teen who has been raped the health care she needs.”
So, it’s “deja vu all over again”:
- Remember when President Obama double crossed the USCCB after securing its blessing to get Obamacare passed? POTUS promised a religious exemption.
- Remember when, in July 2014, President Obama issued an executive order banning “all companies that receive a contract from the federal government from discriminating against their LGBT employees.” The USCCB called it “unprecedented and extreme.”
- And just today, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission has found “reasonable cause” to rule that a Catholic prep school has unlawfully discriminated against a homosexual band director formerly in the school’s employ.
Get the picture? In baseball, the rule is “three strikes and y’er outta here!”
But, this isn’t baseball. It’s hardball politics, not ecclesiastical politics.
If MRS didn’t take the ~$66M in federal money, its budget would have been ~$5M. MRS would have been free to provide illegal immigrants programs and services in alignment with Church teaching. And, the federal government could use that money to deal with the rest.
But, the USCCB’s desire to expand programming and provide services to more and more illegal immigrants has required taking to the dance floor with the Devil. To keep those federal $$$s flowing into the MRS’ coffers, the USCCB claims that if MRS didn’t provide those services, then chaos would break out.
And that’s the USCCB’s problem?
To read the Breitbart News article, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
Watching last fall’s Extraordinary Synod on the Family from the sidelines, what was surprising was the level of rancor (and perhaps even acrimony) manifesting itself in the debate concerning, among other matters, the Church’s prohibition of divorced/remarried Catholics receiving Holy Communion.
Media reports characterized the division this way:
- The intelligent, sensitive, and pastoral “pro-Pope Francis” mercy faction (the theological liberals) were doing battle with the unintelligent, insensitive, and unpastoral “anti-Pope Francis” truth faction (the theological conservatives).
- The leader of the former faction, Cardinal Walter Kasper of Germany, provided the theoretical “Call to Arms” identifying his faction’s much-desired, if not much-anticipated changes to Church teaching. If Cardinal Kasper’s faction prevails, there will be changes to Church teaching. Read: A very good outcome!
- The leader of the latter faction, Cardinal Raymond Burke, published a chapter in the book, Remaining in the Truth of Christ, reiterating the significance of longstanding Church teaching for the world today. If Cardinal Burke’s faction prevails, there will be no change in Church teaching. Read: A very bad outcome!
That oversimplistic, pro-Kasper bifurcation of what transpired at the Extraordinary Synod distracts attention from what may really be in the offing, namely, the rise of neo-Lutherans who may cause a schism in the Church. Armed with very clever exegetical and political skills, this faction has already artfully devised a way to contort Jesus’ unambiguous teaching against both divorce and remarriage—read Remaining in the Truth of Christ to learn how—into a teaching that would allow for both divorce and remarriage. And the media is delighted.
Using divorced and remarried Catholics—who cannot receive Holy Communion—as public relations props in a strategy to stiffen opposition to Church teaching, the neo-Lutherans are, in reality, forcing Pope Francis to choose up sides in a theological battle. The outcome of that battle could end in schism:
- If the Pope sides with the neo-Lutherans, his important words about mercy will be translated into Church teaching, all will be well with the world, and the orthodox faction will have taken quite a drubbing. At least, that’s what the Kapserites would have everyone believe.
- If the Pope sides with the orthodox Burkites, well…er…ummm…there will be Hell to pay, as the Pope’s words about mercy will end up not being quite as generous as people have been led to believe and they will turn against Rome and the orthodox faction, emptying the pews even more. Again, at least, that’s what the neo-Lutherans would have everyone believe.
Apparently, the neo-Lutherans are as serious and as stubborn as was the Augustinian friar, Martin Luther, when in 1517 he posted his 95 theses on the door of the Wittenburg Castle Church. To wit: Consider the words of the President of the German Bishops’ Conference, Cardinal Reinhard Marx. Quoted in Die Tagespost (the original article having since been expunged from the website) stating:
We are not just a subsidiary of Rome. Each episcopal conference is responsible for the pastoral care in their culture and has to proclaim the Gospel in its own unique way. We cannot wait until a synod states something, as we have to carry out marriage and family ministry here.
Positioning himself squarely on the side of the mercy faction led by Cardinal Kasper, Cardinal Marx subsequently backtracked a bit, according to Vaticanista Andrea Gagliarducci.
Even so, the neo-Lutherans are on the march.
But, before concluding an investigation, the general rule is “Follow the money.”
Follow the money: It’s a well-known fact that church attendance in Germany (as in most Western, industrialized nations) is plummeting. What that means for the German bishops, in particular, is that income to their dioceses from the government—derived from a census of those who actually attend Mass—is way, way down.
What better way, then, to increase attendance at Mass in Germany? Extend mercy to the disaffected or alienated Catholics by changing Church teaching concerning divorce and remarriage. Then, all of those other disaffected and alienated Catholics can also be brought back to Mass by changing other Church teachings. However, that will take a bit of time. Right now, what’s imperative is to get one foot into the Porta Sancta at St. Peter’s Basilica, beginning with divorced and remarried Catholics.
All or none of that may have entered into Cardinal Kasper’s thought process or the German bishops’ discussions over which Cardinal Marx has presided.
Who’s to know? Only those who are privvy to such knowledge.
Even so, if one is to understand better what the neo-Lutherans may be up to, the facts cannot be dismissed out of hand.
Follow the money: Those coffers need to be replenished if the bishops are to be good stewards of the critical infrastructure and all the other blings in their possession. As has recently been exposed:
- The Archdiocese of Munich and Freising, led by Cardinal Reinhard Marx, has spent $150M on a new diocesan service center.
- Cardinal Marx’s residence was renovated at a cost of $9M, paid for by the state of Bavaria. That’s not quite the 31m euros Bishop Franz-Peter Tebartz-van Elst of Limburg spent to renovate his official residence, but $9M can go a long way to make a humble hermitage feel a bit more comfortable.
Follow the money: In his National Catholic Register article, Edward Pentin carefully lays out the critics’ argument that the German Bishops’ Conference has become more of a temporal than spiritual power.
Yes, follow the money.
Isn’t that what Martin Luther did when he initiated a schism that eventuated a Reformation?
To read about Cardinal Marx’s statement (as the original Die Tagespost article is no longer available online), click on the following link:
To read Andrea Gagliarducci’s assessment, click on the following link:
To read Edward Pentin’s articles, click on the following links:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
Contrary to the popular caricature that many politicians the mainstream media tout about evangelical Christians—likening them to knuckle-dragging, anti-science Neanderthals—a recent study, “Religious Understandings of Science,” found that ~70% of evangelical Christians believe that religion and science are not in conflict with one another. That is, they believe faith and reason are complementary.
The study, conducted by Rice University Professor of Sociology, Elaine Howard Ecklund, focused upon Christian evangelicals because they constitute approximately 26% of the nation’s population and frequently are depicted as the most hostile body of Christians toward science. About this focus, Ecklund stated:
We really wanted to determine if this claimwas based in any truth. Although many politicians and the media at large portray evangelicals as distrustful of science, we found that this is more myth than reality.
The professor’s findings:
- 38% of Americans view religion and science as complementary; 35% of Americans view science and religion as entirely independent.
- 48% of Christian evangelicals view science and religion as complementary; only 21% view them as entirely independent of one another.
- 15% of Americans and 14% of Christian evangelicals agree that modern science does more harm than good.
- 76% of scientists in the general U.S. population identify with a religious tradition.
- Jews (42%), Muslims, Buddhists and Hindus (52% as a group) and the nonreligious (47%) are more interested in new scientific discoveries than evangelicals (22%).
These findings are noteworthy for a couple of reasons.
First: More Christian evangelicals than the population at large believe religion and science are complementary.
Second: The data indicate that fewer Christian evangelicals than the population at large believe religion and science are entirely independent of each other.
Third: It is astounding to learn that 76% of the nation’s scientists identify with a religious tradition and only 24% don’t. If one was to believe media interviews and investigative reports covering matters associated with science, one would mistakenly conclude exactly the opposite was the case.
In sum: The data indicate that the popular caricature touted by politicians and the mainstream media has it backwards. It’s the nation’s population at large that those politicians and the mainstream media should be lampooning, not Christian evangelicals.
But, of course, they can’t do that. Look what happened to Jonathan Gruber. And he was telling the truth!
Or is it that the mainstream media won’t do that? Why so? It’s impossible to assign a motive, but one can surely speculate that doing so furthers a much-cherished agenda: To drive from the public sphere all religious talk and especially the critique faith has to offer as a remedy from a science that is practiced devoid of religion.
Thank goodness, it appears 75% of scientists won’t or don’t do that…despite what the politicians and mainstream media would have people think to the contray.
To read Professor Ecklund’s study, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
One of the first, unspoken rules of assuming the presidency of an institution of higher education is “Remake the board in your image.”
That rule contains a lot of wisdom. The president may have only had a slim majority to be elected. And, as the stormy petrels will surely be stirring up all sorts of challenges to one’s leadership from all sides, to garner a significant base of support and win re-election, the challenge confronting any first-term president is to ensure that trustworthy and erstwhile allies are appointed to seats on the board. That requires working very closely with the board’s membership committee and selecting candidates who share the president’s vision of what it means to be a university and here, a Catholic university.
In that regard, the President of the University of Notre Dame (UND), the Reverend John Jenkins, CSC, has done extremely well. Recently re-electing him to UND’s presidency, UND’s Board praised Fr. Jenkins’ “unfailing commitment to the University’s Catholic character.”
Juxtapose that effusive praise to a recently-published opinion piece concerning the morality of UND’s conduct under Fr. Jenkins’ leadership in extending spousal benefits to those recognized as married by civil law (e.g., health insurance and student housing to same-sex employees and students).
The authors of that opinion piece—Gerard V. Bradley, Professor of Law; John Finnis, Professor of Law and Legal Philosophy Emeritus in the University of Oxford and Professor of Law at UND; and, Daniel Philpott, Professor of Political Science and Peace Studies and Director of UND’s Center for Civil and Human Rights—concluded that the extension of those benefits by an institution like UND is “morally indefensible” and will have “far-reaching and very damaging” consequences.
How so? Citing the Catholic moral principle concerning cooperation with evil, they state:
Where homosexual unions have been legally recognized, one must refrain from any kind of formal cooperation in the application of such gravely unjust laws and, as far as possible, from material cooperation.
The benefits extension undeniably has the direct effect of encouraging same-sex couples to make or persist in an immoral commitment. It constitutes an endorsement of this commitment, promotes it with direct benefits, and cooperates in it in a way that, on widely used theological conceptions, constitutes formal cooperation with wrongdoing.
Since UND is not compelled by law to implement this policy, the authors observe that doing so constitutes “a morally corrupting scandal, needlessly given,” to persons tempted to enter into, or already in, a same-sex “marriage,” as well as to all others, who “can readily infer that the university actually does not regard any kind of sex acts between adults as grave matter.”
Their conclusion? UND’s policy “imperils the souls and the earthly fulfillment of those whom it has undertaken to support in a Christian life.”
In light of this policy, UND’s Board of Trustees’ ringing endorsement of Fr. Jenkins’ leadership provides an object lesson in what is mortally wrong with much of U.S. Catholic higher education today. Many, if not most of those who hold in “sacred trust” the institutional mission—the members of the board of trustees—apparently are not adequately prepared for the trust which they hold, as this evidences itself in the continuous, creeping secularization of the nation’s institutions of Catholic higher education since the 1960s and 1970s when most of those institutions were turned over to lay boards.
It was the presidents of those institutions who successfully built their boards of trustees in their image and likeness. This is how U.S. Catholic higher education came to the precarious state in which it finds itself today where its universities and colleges implement policies that might be acceptable in secular institutions, but not Catholic institutions.
All of this was quite conscious and deliberate, as those presidents sought to have their institutions emulate their secular peers while retaining a patina of Catholic to please the folks and donors that they’re still Catholic institutions of higher education.
And so it is today at UND. As the authors of that opinion piece note:
[Implementing this policy] violates the institution’s duty of love for same-sex couples, who will inevitably be confirmed and encouraged to continue in their wrongful commitment; it also violates the University’s duty of love for everyone in the campus community, many of whom will be misled about the meaning of marriage and the truth about sexual morality, as well as about how a Christian community rightly responds in love to persons living out a public commitment to an immoral relationship.
If that’s not enough, by “build[ing] into the bricks a norm that leads members of the community directly away from a life lived in friendship with Christ,” UND creates a “structure of sin” that “will be difficult to contain.” How so? It will be increasingly difficult to bar from academic administration those who live openly in immoral relationships.
Does this not present a proximate threat not only to the institution’s Catholic identity but also to the freedom in a Catholic university or college to uphold Catholic teaching?
Nearly two decades ago, a UND professor of history, George M. Marsden, narrated the same story as it pertained to Protestant higher education in the United States. Marsden wrote:
In the context of all these forces, we can understand the residual formal role left for religion in universities. Clearly, despite the presence of many religion departments and a few university divinity schools, religion has moved from near the center a century or so ago to far on the incidental periphery. Aside from voluntary student religious groups, religion in most universities is about as important as the baseball team. Not only has religion become peripheral, there is a definite bias against any perceptible religiously informed perspectives getting a hearing in university classrooms. Despite the claims of contemporary universities to stand above all for openness, tolerance, academic freedom, and equal rights, viewpoints based on discernibly religious concepts (for instance, that there is a created moral order or that divine truths might be revealed in a sacred Scripture), are often informally or explicitly excluded from classrooms.
To read the UND’s Board of Trustees’ letter, click on the following link:
To read the opinion piece concerning UND’s policy, click on the following link:
To read Marsden’s article, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
The University of Scranton’s President, the Reverend Kevin P. Quinn, S.J., has announced plans to terminate the institution’s health insurance coverage of all abortions.
Since the 1990s, the University’s healthcare policy allowed for abortion in cases of rape, incest, and when the life of the mother was endangered by a pregnancy. This policy was implemented so as to comply with the limits of Commonwealth of Pennsylvania law for traditional insurance plans.
However, that was then and this is now.
In his letter to the campus, Fr. Quinn stated that the coverage of any abortion is inconsistent with the University’s Roman Catholic faith:
…the moral teaching of the Church on abortion is unequivocal. Circumstances, “however serious or tragic, can never justify the deliberate killing of an innocent human being,” and “[n]o one more absolutely innocent could be imagined” than the unborn child. (Evangelium Vitae, no. 58)
Why the dramatic change in policy?
The University of Scranton is now self-insured, meaning that “we can, and therefore must, offer insurance plans that are free of all abortion coverage,” according to Fr. Quinn.
Aware of the problems this change in healthcare policy will likely provoke–in particular, with the faculty union because the University’s contract with the union will need to be adjusted–Fr. Quinn wrote an eloquent, proactive defense:
…fidelity to our mission as a Catholic and Jesuit institution is the abiding theme of our history, regardless of the times and trials.
Remaining faithful to our identity as a Catholic institution calls us to serve the world in unique and inspiring ways. It has also, over the years, led the University to adapt its institutional practices to ensure harmony with the moral teachings of the Catholic Church….
Would that all of the presidents of the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges experienced a similar conversion or, at least, learned that it is possible to overcome their timidity, defend Church teaching at their institutions, and tred where angels fear!
Fr. Quinn’s defense of Church teaching raises substantive questions:
- Should not what is unique about a Catholic institution of higher education–its “value added”–be its role in integrating faith and reason, first, by propagating the Catholic faith and its values and, second, building upon that foundation? After all, shouldn’t one know what one is critiquing before critiquing it?
- Why ever would anyone pay tuition to attend a Catholic university or college in order to be strategically de-Catholicized? Aren’t there already enough officially secular-humanist institutions of public higher education available in the United States?
Kudos to Fr. Quinn and the University of Scranton! May his leadership inspire his colleagues in U.S. Catholic higher education to tred where they’d rather not…by becoming self-insured and, then, ending all abortion coverage as part of their healthcare policies.
To read Fr. Quinn’s letter, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
The suspended Marquette University political science professor who asserted “Marquette…has again shown itself to be timid, overly bureaucratic and lacking any commitment to either its Catholic mission or free expression,” has received a 16-page letter from the Dean of Marquette’s Klinger School of Arts and Sciences, Richard Holz.
In his letter, Dean Holz notes that “Marquette University is commencing the process to revoke your tenure and to dismiss you from the faculty.” Why? Holz continues:
…your conduct clearly and substantially fails to meet the standards of personal and professional excellence that generally characterizes University faculties. As a result, your value to this academic institution is substantially impaired.
The brouhaha began last fall when the professor, John McAdams, posted an article in his blog, the “Marquette Warrior,” voicing his concern about the way the concept of social justice is communicated and typically understood at Marquette. McAdams noted how opposition to hot-button issues—like abortion and same-sex marriage—is not a part of the University’s version of social justice. “On the contrary, any opposition to gay marriage is called ‘homophobia,’” McAdams wrote.
Holz’s letter details the results of an investigation into the events leading McAdams to post that article and what transpired in the aftermath of his posting that article. Holz contends that McAdams’ conduct was not only unprofessional but that he also misled the public about what happened in a dispute between the graduate instructor and an undergraduate student that McAdams described in his article. Worse yet, McAdams published the graduate instructor’s name.
In a new post, McAdams responds to each charge, claiming that he is being punished for his free speech. McAdams also maintains that the problem isn’t him—he is simply defending an undergraduate’s views against gay marriage that are consistent with Roman Catholic teachings—but with those who are tolerant only of what is not Roman Catholic teaching. McAdams closes by noting:
Campus bureaucrats hate controversy, since it makes trouble for them. Thus the most “valuable” faculty members are the ones who avoid controversy, and especially avoid criticizing administrators.
In real universities, administrators understand (or more likely grudgingly accept) that faculty will say controversial things, will criticize them and each other, and that people will complain about it. They understand that putting up with the complaints is part of the job, and assuaging those who complain the loudest is not the best policy.
That sort of university is becoming rarer and rarer. Based on Holz’ actions, Marquette is certainly not such a place.
With what McAdams calls “excellent legal counsel,” he vows to fight Holz. McAdams states that he “most certainly will not go quietly.”
To read Professor McAdams’ post announcing his suspension, click on the following link:
To read Dean Holz’s letter to Professor McAdams, click on the following link:
To read Professor McAdams’ original post, click on the following link:
To read Professor McAdams’ latest post, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
The folks over at The College Fix have done their homework, exposing how administrators at the University of St. Thomas (UST)—a “private Catholic liberal arts school” located in St. Paul, MN—are standing by their decision to let students to gain academic credit by serving as interns at a Minnesota-based National Organization for Women (NOW) chapter, even though the organization advocates for abortion on demand, LGBTQ rights, same-sex marriage, and its brand of so-called “racial justice.” UST’s Women’s Studies Department is sponsoring the internship opportunity.
This decision comes after the folks over at TFP Student Action also did their homework, organizing a successful petition drive garnering 10k+ signatures admonishing UST for offering internships at Planned Parenthood and Minnesota NARAL. Quickly after that email was forwarded to UST President Julie Sullivan, the listings were removed.
Now, that administrative fiat might satisfy some people.
However, what’s noteworthy about the NOW incident is not that diversity and inclusion means providing students opportunities to intern in organizations whose purpose contradicts official Church teaching. Nor is what’s noteworthy that academic administrators and professors sincerely believe that providing students those internships advances the institution’s mission as Catholic.
What’s noteworthy about this incident is that doing so provides additional evidence of a pattern of conduct on the part of academic administrators and professors at many of the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges. Namely, tacitly allowing opportunities like those internships at NOW to proceed. How? Perhaps through a “wink and a nod” or, even better yet, “Don’t inform me.” The idea is that if nobody finds out, all the better. And, if a crazy conservative Catholic does find out and complain, assert plausible deniability.
- In response to the TFP Student Action petition, UST President Julie Sullivanwrote an email to TFP Student Action noting:
…the links were published in error on the website of our College of Arts and Sciences, and they are being corrected. Student internships in the college are approved through the Office of the Dean. The Dean has not approved, nor would he approve, academic credit for internships at Planned Parenthood or abortion organizations.
- The Director of UST’s Women’s Studies Program, Susan Meyers, claimed she was “completely unaware of any protests and petitions regarding Planned Parenthood internships at UST.”
What’s important is that other voices also be introduced into the discussion. In this way, the narrative can be change from one that focuses upon upholding Catholic identity to one of safeguarding academic freedom. To wit:
- UST’s Vice President for University and Government Relations, Doug Hennes, said that UST administrators view the NOW as “an advocacy group on a wide variety of women’s issues, not specifically on abortion.” Yes, including: LGBTQ rights, same-sex marriage, and racial justice.
- Catherine Cory, Director UST’s Murray Institute—an on-campus Catholic institute for dialogue with the Archdiocese—asked: “If some of Planned Parenthood’s work is morally wrong according to Catholic moral teaching, does that make everything they do wrong?” “Planned Parenthood does more than provide abortions and contraceptives,” Cory added.
- A St. Thomas alumna, Chloe Lawyer, thinks “it is a shame that members of the St. Thomas community are not even allowed to view these opportunities.” Lawyer just happens to have completed one of those internships at Planned Parenthood and said that limiting internship opportunities disrupts freethinking, adding, “Freethinking does not always align with Catholic values.”
Yes, indeed. When caught with your finger in the cookie jar, claim plausible deniability. Then have all of your friends explain why it’s perfectly reasonably that your finger should be in the cookie jar.
What the NOW incident exposes is what may be a more radical approach emerging, namely, “Stick it in your ear.”
When will the nation’s Catholic bishops realize where this narrative is headed and set about righting the wrong?
To read The College Fix article, click on the following link:
Thomas Joseph O’Brien.
The name may have slipped from memory, as the media has moved on to cover other “hot,” Church-related scandals as well as to cover the ecclesiastical politics associated with the upcoming Ordinary General Assembly of the Synod of Bishops in October 2015.
O’Brien is the Bishop Emeritus of Phoenix, resigning in 2003, 4 days after he struck and killed a 43-year-old man in a hit-and-run car accident. In 2004, O’Brien was found guilty of leaving the scene of a fatal accident and was sentenced to 4 years’ probation, 1k hours of community service, and required to surrender his driver’s license for 5 years.
Thomas Joseph O’Brien is the first American Catholic bishop convicted of a felony.
This was a delicious scandal for some in the American Catholic media. For example, the National Catholic Reporter (NCR) jumped right on the story, here and here, providing the coverage it deserved. After all, committing vehicular manslaughter is no trivial matter.
Compare that scandal to a more recent one involving Maryland’s second-highest ranking Episcopal bishop who was charged in January 2015 with drunken driving and vehicular manslaughter after fatally striking a cyclist late in December 2015. Prosecutors charged the bishop with leaving the scene of an accident, criminal negligent manslaughter, failure to remain at the scene of an accident resulting in serious injury and death, using a text messaging device that resulted in an accident, and 3 drunken driving charges. If convicted of all charges, the bishop could face 20+ years in prison. The bishop’s bail was set at $2.5M. A trial is scheduled for February 6.
Sadly, this bishop also appears to have had problems with alcohol, charged by police in 2010 while yet a priest with drunken driving. Police also found wine, liquor, and marijuana in the car. In exchange for pleading guilty to the drunken driving offense, the drug charges were dropped and the priest received probation.
The most recent charges came less than 1 week after the national Episcopal Church announced it was opening an investigation into the bishop. Why? The 2010 charges weren’t shared with the clergy and lay church members who were charged with selecting the bishop from among four finalists. Then, too, another complaint was filed last week calling for national Episcopal Church leaders to open an investigation to determine whether the bishop violated church law in the hit-and-run accident.
Oh, by the way, it just so happens this bishop is female. She is Heather Cook, the suffragan bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of Maryland.
A search of the NCR archives from 2008-2014 using the key terms “bishop” “Thomas O’Brien” and “Phoenix” revealed 1161 articles in which the bishop was identified. A search using the key terms during the same period “Heather Cook” revealed 0 (nada, zippo) articles. Nothing about her being ordained a female priest or bishop and deafening silence about her accident.
It isn’t that the NCR doesn’t cover the topic of female bishops. Another search of the NCR archives since 2008 using the keyword “female bishop” revealed 23 articles. Another search using the keyword “suffragan bishop” revealed 4 articles discussing female bishops. True, the NCR didn’t cover Bishop Cook’s ordination.
That said, these data do raise a question: Is focusing exclusively upon the errors of male bishops and overlooking those of female bishops what it means for the NCR “in all our management and publishing decisions, to evaluate carefully the needs of the faith community we serve and to respond effectively to those needs?”
When the Washington Times brandishes the banner headline “Obama finds an ally on political controversies at the Vatican,” it may be time to step back and assess what exactly is transpiring.
From income inequality to Cuba and soon to global warming, it seems that Pope Francis is doing some heavy lifting for President Obama, his political agenda, and his legacy. That’s not to say that’s what the Pope intends; it is to say that this may very well be the outcome of what the Pope actually doing.
Suffice it to say, the Pope’s interests are primarily evangelical. Economic structures that enrich the few but keep the many impoverished are certainly immoral. Only plutocrats would disagree. Political structures that accrue power to the few but exclude the many from the process are certainly immoral. Only oligarchs would disagree. Destroying the Earth’s biosphere is certainly immoral. Only the most virulent “anti-greenies” would disagree.
Yet, Pope Francis appears to be completely tone deaf to the message that his actions communicate. He’s providing President Obama cover to advance an economic, political, and environmental agenda that is more ideological than rooted in economic, political, and environmental fact. Imagine what would have been said if President John F. Kennedy had said the following about St. John XXIII in December 1962, as President Obama did about Pope Francis in December 2014:
He played a very important role. The pope doesn’t wield armies. He can’t impose sanctions. But he can speak with great moral authority, and it makes a difference. And it certainly made a difference in this case.
What’s especially troubling is how the Pope’s actions embolden liberal Catholic American politicians, most of whom are Democrat, to promote the Pope’s actions while advocating their ideologically-driven economic, political, and environmental policies. Again, that isn’t the Pope’s intention; but, his actions do allow others to politicize them for their own personal and partisan ends, as if Pope Francis is goading them on.
The problem, it seems, is not with the Pope’s agenda as much as it is the way the Pope’s agenda appears to be one-sided. While he will assert very strong moral opinions about economic, political, and apparently, environmental injustices, Pope Francis seems not to be very interested in or much inclined to be equally assertive in expressing Church teaching when it comes to grave moral errors like abortion, divorce/remarriage, and homosexuality.
That the Pope is touted in the press as one of President Obama’s “greatest allies” is disconcerting at best. Income inequality, unjust political structures, and the environment are important issues that politicians must deal with and, yes, they should consult with religious figures across the globe to find moral ways to resolve those issues. Yet, this Pope appears to believe it more important to articulate his solutions to these issues forcibly which, in turn, provides diplomatic cover for politicians, than he is to express with equal vigor and clarity their abject failure to address the grave moral errors of this era.
As the Washington Times, noted:
“It’s not quite a gift from God but, politically, it may be the next best thing.”
To read the Washington Times article, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following linke:
In the case of Pacific Lutheran University and Service Employees International Union, Local 925 (Case 19–RC–102521), the National Labor Relations Board (NRLB) ruled on December 16 that contingent (“adjunct”) faculty members at private colleges and universities can unionize.
This decision certainly has the potential to impact the nation’s Catholic institutions of higher education. But, of far greater importance is how the NLRB will require those institutions to demonstrate they are Catholic, that is, if they are to be excluded from the National Labor Relations Act.
Moving forward, the NLRB fully expects an institution to fulfill its religious mission—to make it promient in the classroom—through its faculty in the classrooms, while advising, and in conducting research. The key finding is found in the decision’s second paragraph:
After careful consideration of applicable case law, as well as the positions of the parties and amici, we have decided that we will not decline to exercise jurisdiction over faculty members at a college or university that claims to be a religious institution unless the college or university first demonstrates, as a threshold matter, that it holds itself out as providing a religious educational environment. Once that threshold requirement is met, the college or university must then show that it holds out the petitioned-for faculty members as performing a religious function. This requires a showing by the college or university that it holds out those faculty as performing a specific role in creating or maintaining the university’s religious educational environment. (bold, italics added)
The case concerned the right of contingent faculty to unionize at a religious university. At issue was the institution’s claim that full-time contingent faculty members are “managerial employees” based upon the Yeshiva decision (444 U.S. 672 ). The NRLB rejected that claim, redefining “managerial status” and providing the thresholds bolded and italicized above. But, the NRLB went further, offering examples regarding how administrators can provide evidence that contingent faculty members meet the new thresholds.
- Concerning how an institution “holds itself out as providing a religious educational environment,” the NRLB states:
Appropriate evidence of how the university holds itself out as providing a religious educational environment would include, but by no means be limited to, handbooks, mission statements, corporate documents, course catalogs, and documents published on a school’s website. Press releases or other public statements by university officials could also be relevant. A university’s contemporary presentation of itself is likely to be more probative than its founding documents and historical tradition. (p. 6)
The NRLB is clearly not interested in making an “intrusive inquiry into the university’s beliefs or how it implements its religious mission.” What the NRLB is interested in, however, is that the institution presents itself as providing a “religious educational environment.” That phrase, ambiguous as it is, provides the minimal threshold for an institution to be excluded from the Act.
- Concerning how an institution “holds out the petitioned-for faculty members as performing a religious function,” the NRLB states:
The focus is on whether faculty members are held out as having such an obligation as part of their faculty responsibilities. Although we will not examine faculty members’ actual performance of their duties, we shall require that they be held out as performing a specific religious function. Generalized statements that faculty members are expected to, for example, support the goals or mission of the university are not alone sufficient. These types of representations do not communicate the message that the religious nature of the university affects faculty members’ job duties or requirements. They give no indication that faculty members are expected to incorporate religion into their teaching or research, that faculty members will have any religious requirements imposed on them, or that the religious nature of the university will have any impact at all on their employment. This is especially true when the university also asserts a commitment to diversity and academic freedom, further putting forth the message that religion has no bearing on faculty members’ job duties or responsibilities. Without a showing that faculty members are held out as performing a specific religious function, there is no basis on which to distinguish these employees from faculty members at nonreligious universities or to exclude them from coverage under the Act….
If the evidence shows that faculty members are required to serve a religious function, such as integrating the institution’s religious teachings into coursework, serving as religious advisors to students, propagating religious tenets, or engaging in religious indoctrination or religious training, we will decline jurisdiction. (pp. 8-9) (bold, italics added)
With this second threshold, the NRLB is clearly interested that an institution demonstrate how its faculty are fulfilling a management function by actively translating the institution’s religious doctrine into the experience of students. If an institution can demonstrate that its faculty meet this threshold, that institution is excluded from coverage under the provisions of the Act because its faculty are providing the “religious educational environment” for which the institution exists.
- Concerning how an institution “holds out those faculty as performing a specific role in creating or maintaining the university’s religious educational environment,” the NRLB states:
Our minimal requirements do not, of course, preclude a party from presenting additional evidence that it believes is relevant to demonstrating that faculty members do or do not perform a religious function…. (fn. 13, p. 9)
….if the college or university holds itself out as requiring its faculty to conform to its religious doctrine or to particular religious tenets or beliefs in a manner that is specifically linked to their duties as a faculty member, we will decline jurisdiction….However, general or aspirational statements, without specificity as to how the requirement affects actual job functions, will not suffice…. (p. 9)
Our inquiry in this regard focuses on whether a reasonable prospective applicant would conclude that performance of their faculty responsibilities would require furtherance of the college or university’s religious mission. (p. 9)
Interestingly, this third threshold implicitly raises a fundamental issue: “Truth in advertising.” That is, it’s one thing for an institution to promote itself as religious (the first threshold) and that its faculty promote the institution’s religious doctrine (the second threshold). Superadded to providing evidence that the institution does all of that as defined by this new management standard, the institution must now also clearly communicate to potential applicants that they will receive a specifically religious education and they should fully expect that all faculty members will provide that religious education. That is, if the institution is to be excluded from being covered by the Act.
Considering the number of Catholic universities and colleges and associated organizations filing amicus briefs to exclude those institutions from the provisions of the Act, this decision represents what may be a major blow in their efforts to keep faculty in their institutions from unionizing. In that regard, the decision is almost certain to be appealed.
More substantively, the decision articulates with clarity what an authentic Catholic higher education in the United States involves and requires of both administrators and faculty. For five decades, administrators of the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges have had it both ways. They could “talk the talk” about how their institution are “Catholic,” while at the same time, allow faculty in the classrooms, in their advising, and in their research to emulate their secular counterparts.
What’s ironic about the NRLB decision is that it took an agency of a secular government to dictate to those administrators what it means to “walk the talk” and how that requires faculty who teach students as they should be taught in a specifically Catholic institution. The NRLB may have done more to reclaim the lost soul of U.S. Catholic higher education than has any other group—including the National Conference of Catholic Bishops—in the past 50 years.
To read the NLRB’s decision, click on the following link:
Back in early November, a professor of political science reported in a personal blog post about a fellow professor teaching “Theory of Ethics” who was applying a philosophical text to modern political controversies. Listing some controversies, the professor wrote down “gay rights.” The professor then said to the class, “Everybody agrees on this, and there is no need to discuss it.”
One student disagreed.
After the class had ended, the student approached the professor, stating that the issue and associated matters, like homosexual rights, so-called homosexual marriage, and homosexual adoption, merit discussion. According to the blog post, the student went further, stating that if the professor dismissed the issue and its associated matters based solely upon personal views, that would set “a terrible precedent for the class.”
The professor was skeptical, offering counter arguments. Lastly, the professor asked the student for research demonstrating the student’s assertions.
But, like most political controversies, the discussion didn’t end there, as the professor explained that “some opinions are not appropriate, such as racist opinions, sexist opinions,” asking “Do you know if anyone in your class is homosexual?” and whether, if some student raised his hand and challenged so-called homosexual marriage, “Don’t you think it would be offensive to them?”
The student responded, stating that as an American citizen he possessed the right to advance counter-arguments, to which the professor replied,
You don’t have a right in this class to make homophobic comments….In this class, homophobic comments, racist comments, will not be tolerated.
Finally, the professor invited the student to drop the class.
In late November, The Motley Monk discussed this incident within a broader analysis, “Some stirrings of discontent in U.S. Catholic higher education.”
But, like most matters involving people feeling offended, the story didn’t end there.
On December 17, the professor who wrote the personal blog post received a letter from the institution’s Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences:
The university is continuing to review your conduct and during this period—and until further notice—you are relieved of all teaching duties and all other faculty activities, including, but not limited to, advising, committee work, faculty meetings and any activity that would involve your interaction with… students, faculty and staff. Should any academic appeals arise from Fall 2014 semester, however, you are expected to fulfill your obligations in that specific matter.
Your salary and benefits will continue at their current level during this time.
You are to remain off campus during this time, and should you need to come to campus, you are to contact me in writing beforehand to explain the purpose of your visit, to obtain my consent and to make appropriate arrangements for that visit. I am enclosing with this letter [the institution’s] harassment policy, its guiding values statement, the University mission statement, and sections from the Faculty Handbook, which outline faculty rights and responsibilities; these documents will inform our review of your conduct.
Even if the suspension is “a bit of a joke, since it’s Christmas break and we aren’t teaching,” as the professor noted in a new personal blog post, what isn’t a joke are some of the potential implications of this suspension:
- Class discussion that’s likely to “offend” any particular group of students in the class must be proscribed…a “gag” order, as RedState.com described it. Consider all of the matters that might offend particular groups of students.
- Calling out colleagues who are intolerant of full, free, and unfettered discussion of the facts can warrant a suspension and possible dismissal for failure to adhere to the institution’s harassment policy. Professors would be indemnified from any challenges to their unfounded opinions.
- Challenging such proscriptions can also end in a suspension and possible dismissal. This would have a “chilling effect” upon free speech, as academic administrators could investigate, censor, and or even punish professors who express their personal beliefs not only in classrooms but in personal blog posts. That process could take the form of harassment which the procees is supposed to ensure doesn’t happen.
Doesn’t all of that present a proximate danger to academic freedom?
About the institution, RedState.com observed:
Marquette is Wisconsin’s leading Catholic university. As such, it is a high profile institution among Catholics both in and out of Wisconsin. It also prides itself as one of the most well known centers of higher education in the state. By imposing a gag order on McAdams, the school has done damage to both its Catholic and academic traditions….
One can only shake one’s head in disbelief, reading of these events and juxtaposing them to Marquette’s mission statement:
Marquette University is a Catholic, Jesuit university dedicated to serving God by serving our students and contributing to the advancement of knowledge. Our mission, therefore, is the search for truth, the discovery and sharing of knowledge, the fostering of personal and professional excellence, the promotion of a life of faith, and the development of leadership expressed in service to others. All this we pursue for the greater glory of God and the common benefit of the human community.
Or, as the now-suspended professor noted:
Marquette…has again shown itself to be timid, overly bureaucratic and lacking any commitment to either its Catholic mission or free expression.
To read the professor’s original blog post, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s previous blog post, click on the following link:
To read the professor’s update, the December 17 blog post, click on the following link:
To read the RedState.com article, click on the following link:
To read the Marquette University Mission Statement, click on the following link:
It’s difficult to gauge precisely how many Catholics—in particular, those who are genuinely concerned about the Catholic identity of U.S. Catholic higher education—are feeling like Howard Beale, the fictional anchorman for the UBS Evening News in the film Network. Beale had a difficult time accepting the social ailments and depravity existing in the world he was reporting to his viewers. The image of Beale—his beige coat and wet, gray hair plastered to his head—standing up during the middle of his newscast and proclaiming, “I’m mad as hell, and I’m not going to take this anymore!” is arguably one of the most memorable scenes in cinematic history.
But, when it comes to U.S. Catholic higher education, the scene is memorable not because Beale had grown insane. No, it’s memorable because Beale was prophetic, correctly discerning the “signs of the times.”
Yet, although many of Beale’s viewers shared his outrage, they didn’t voice their frustrations. Why?
- Perhaps some figured they would live their lives the way they saw fit and allow others to do the same. “Live and let live,” they thought. After all, who were they to judge?
- Perhaps others figured those social ailments and depravity would eventually disappear, collapsing upon themselves of their own weight of the unhappiness they bring. Isn’t that what the natural law teaches?
- Perhaps yet others lived in fear of those who were actively promoting those social ailments and depravity. They asked, as did Rodney King, “Can’t we all just get along?”
For a very long time, some Catholics have been “mad as hell” about the direction U.S. Catholic higher education has taken. Yet, they have remained silent for whatever reason, just like many of Beale’s viewers. However, those Catholics may now be at the point they’re “not going to take this anymore.” Their decades-long, simmering discontent may be at the boiling point and close to boiling over. To wit:
- A professor of theology at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, Randall Smith, recently argued in Aleteia that something must be done about those universities and colleges which self-identify as “Catholic,” yet are less-than-supportive of Catholic students, faculty, and Church teaching. Smith noted the hostility demonstrated at many nominally Catholic universities in recent decades that has rendered some of them what Smith called “hot-beds of anti-Catholicism.”
- A Marquette University political science professor, John McAdams, recently posted an article at the Marquette Warrior in which he voiced his concern about the way the concept of social justice is communicated and typically understood at Marquette. McAdams noted how opposition to hot-button issues—like abortion and same-sex marriage—is not a part of the University’s version of social justice. “On the contrary, any opposition to gay marriage is called ‘homophobia,’” McAdams wrote.
- James Schall, SJ, formerly a member of Georgetown University’s faculty, recently published “The Catholic Difference” at The Catholic World Report. In his post, Fr. Schall emphasized the importance of maintaining a Catholic distinction in this secular world. “Catholics see themselves being…separated out because of a radical cultural change that they did not always notice,” Schall wrote. However, this isolation “is not so much because of any specific doctrinal issue peculiar to Catholics but because of issues of reason and natural law concerning human life and family, the very pillars of civilization.” Losing sight of the search for truth through sober reasoning that’s rooted in natural law, Fr. Schall argued, those institutions are forsaking their Catholic identity at a time just when young people need to experience it most.
- In Reclaiming Catholic Social Teaching, a Providence College professor of English, Anthony Esolen, has argued that many of the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges have narrowed the rich tradition of Catholic social teaching. How so? By limiting it to papal writings of the last couple decades and, in particular, papal concerns about society in the post-industrial West. What this narrowing of the tradition has accomplished, Esolen believes, is to divide Church teaching into neat compartments—like sexual morality, marriage, family, and economics—rather than to present the integral whole that it is. In the end, “progress” has been made synonymous with “dispensing [with] the wisdom of the ages.”
The singular problem is the largely unchallenged motive that most academic administrators at those institutions have evidenced for nearly six decades. In short, they want their institutions to be exactly like their secular peers with a patina of Catholic—not too much, not too little, just enough to convince the folks that their institutions are genuinely Catholic. Moving those institutions in this direction is nothing new, tracing its history back to the Land O’ Lakes conference in the late 1960’s.
After nearly six decades, the outcome is a system of higher education that, in most of its policies, classrooms, and dormitories, consists of 240+ universities and colleges that are discernably similar to their secular counterparts.
For those Catholics who are frustrated with the current state of U.S. Catholic higher education, this history raises some fundamental questions:
- If those institutions aren’t going to be distinctively Catholic and educate students in a decidedly Catholic body of tradition, for what purpose do they exist?
- How would the virtue of justice adjure administrators who advertise and promote their institutions as “Catholic” when their fundamental motivation is to imitate their secular peers?
- If a student is not going to receive a distinctive education in the Catholic tradition, is this not tantamount to “false advertising” or, worse yet, theft for charging tuition for something that’s knowingly not going to be provided whole and intact?
When conservatives raise questions like these, they are routinely accused of being interested only in “indoctrinating” students. However, it’s the conduct of those making this accusation that ought to be critically examined. Have they not been using “Catholic” social justice as their Trojan Horse to indoctrinate students into their ideology?
That long-term project and its success is what makes conservatives “mad as hell.” Evidently, some of them are “not going to take this anymore” and are beginning to speak out.
To read Randall Smith’s article, click on the following link:
To read John McAdams post, click on the following link:
To read Fr. Schall’s article, click on the following link:
To learn about/purchase Anthony Esolen’s book, click on the following link: