The Motley Monk
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:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, 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?”
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
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:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, 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:
If I should write the truth, I believe that I ought to flee all meetings of bishops, because I have never seen any happy or satisfactory outcome from any council, nor one that has deterred evils more than it has occasioned their acceptance and growth.
(St Gregory of Nazianzus, Letter 131 from 382 AD; cf. PG ).
Although it happened a couple of weeks back, it was bound to happen.
A President of a Catholic University has cited Pope Francis as an influential factor extending health benefits to same-sex “spouses” of university employees.
According to the Omaha World-Herald:
[The President of Creighton University, the Reverend Timothy Lannon, SJ] said the idea began to take root after Pope Francis took a different tone on gays in the church. He said he discussed it with campus leaders for a year before making the decision. Though he largely heard agreement on campus—Lannon said the university’s benefits committee approved it unanimously—Archbishop George Lucas was firmly opposed.
In the article, Fr. Lannon is also quoted as saying:
I asked myself, what would Jesus do in this case? And I can only imagine Jesus being so welcoming of all people.”
One of the premiere campus events during the month of October occurred beneath the radar screen: “Asexual Awareness Week.”
This lack of awareness won’t contine if Emily Johnston and some of her pals at Carleton College are effective in getting their message out, according to Inside Higher Ed. Johnston is the President and Co-Founder of The New England Asexual Community and Education (ACE) which holds meetings and is actively working to expand programming at Carleton for asexual students.
To date, Johnston and her allies have experienced some success. For example, Carleton’s Gender and Sexuality Center (GSC) earlier this year added the word “asexual” into its mission statement as well as an “A” onto the LGBTQ acronym. For Johnston, that’s important because it provides recognition that asexuals exist and are a valued and visible part of the queer community. “It’s an act of validation,” Johnston noted.
The GSC’s Director, Laura Haave, said her organization is making an effort to sponsor programs that are more inclusive of asexual topics or speakers. In addition, the GSC is also revising some of its programs concerning communication and consent. The idea is to acknowledge that talking about sex for some people means identifying as asexual. “There’s a pretty strong belief in our society that if you don’t experience sexual desire or sexual attraction, there’s something wrong with you,” Haave said. Haave hopes the GSC’s recognition will mean asexual people won’t face the discriminatory pressure that confronted the gay, lesbian, and transgender populations, namely, to “change who they are” or “get better.”
What’s an “asexual” person? Johnston defined an asexual as a “person who doesn’t feel sexual attraction.” However, Johnston added:
It means something different for everyone, and it means they experience relationships and intimacy differently.
As this definition isn’t inclusive of the wide spectrum of asexual variations, Johnston expressed her preference that people use the more inclusive term “asexual spectrum.”
For Johnston, even though the number and visibility of people who identify as asexual has grown, it’s still too low. Johnston observes:
It happens so often that people don’t even know that asexuality is an orientation. Or they’ve heard of the word, but don’t know what it means.
Beyond Carlton, the movement appears to be growing nationally with the establishment of support groups for asexual students at the University of Colorado at Boulder and New College of Florida. At other institutions—like the University of Georgia, for example—existing student groups have added asexual to the list of gender identities and sexual orientations represented.
Once academic administrators at the nation’s Catholic colleges and universities learn that asexuals are being stigmatized on their campuses because sex, attraction, and desire are celebrated and encouraged by the culture, they’ll be sure to note that Catholic social teaching requires a more inclusive approach towards asexuals. Perhaps the New England ACES would be willing to offer those administrators recommendations for their college gender and sexuality centers. Then, they’ll demonstrate greater compassion toward and inclusity of the newest of sexual minorities, all of those students on the “asexual spectrum.”
Any bet which Catholic college or university will spearhead the effort?
To read the Inside Higher Ed article, click on the following link:
The soon-to-be “former Prefect of the Sacred Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura,” Cardinal Raymond Burke, isn’t letting his alleged “demotion” to head the Knights of Malta get in the way of his speaking out about the scandal caused by the first round of the Synod on the Family. No, it seems that the Cardinal is speaking out even more forcibly.
In his most recent interview posted at CNSNews.com, Cardinal Burke speaks about the “very serious responsibility to try to correct as quickly and as effectively as possible the scandal caused by the midterm report.”
And that wasn’t all Cardinal Burke had to say. About Church teaching regarding marriage, he said:
We have to recognize that if we don’t get it right about marriage–in other words, if we’re not faithful to the word of Christ, to the truth which Christ announced to us about marriage–in the Church, I don’t know how people can trust us with regard to teaching the truth of the faith in any other matter.
We’re talking here about the very foundation of the life of the church, the first cell of our life, in the marital union and the formation of the family and if we don’t uphold the sanctity of the marital bond we have really not only abandoned the Catholic faith but really abandoned the Christian faith in the sense that we are abandoning the natural law itself.
Crucial in the Cardinal’s understanding of the Church is its essentially conservative nature. Popes and bishops cannot “invent” or “change” Church teaching because it is divinely revealed, coming from Scripture and Tradition. Instead, Popes and bishops must fearlessly proclaim Church teaching–in this regard, concerning marriage and sexuality–by relying upon what the Church has already produced to explain its teaching rather than abandoning it for new, untested theories like that of “gradualism.” Cardinal Burke said:
The Church must now in this period hold up the beauty, the splendor, of this teaching for the sake of her own members that they not be confused about the truth but also for the sake of our world and the church’s call to serve the world by proclaiming the truth and by giving witness to it.
And, so, I’m praying very fervently that this coming year that this confusion will stop and instead that there will begin to be a strong emphasis on the beauty of the truth of the Church’s teaching on marriage and on human life and human sexuality.
If there was any scandal, it wasn’t generated by the Synod’s final midterm report but the mainstream media’s manipulation of the contents of the discussions transpiring within the Synod and the first midterm report which contained statements that were well-suited to advance the mainstream media’s agenda. However, with those statements deleted from the final midterm document, the mainstream media couldn’t but relish the opportunity they were provided to pit one midterm report against the other, painting the former as more sensitive, inclusive, and understanding of and merciful to humanity while identifying their bogey-man as Cardinal Raymond Burke.
If the members of the mainstream media think Cardinal Burke is one who is easily going to back down when the issue concerns Church teaching, his recent interviews suggest they’re barking up the wrong tree.
Hopefully, this most recent interview portends more of what’s to come if the scandal generated by the mainstream media isn’t stopped dead in its tracks.
To read the CNSNews.com interview transcript, click on the following link:
Somewhere beneath the radar screen, college-age American men as a group aren’t doing so well, especially when compared to today’s college women and men of the halcyon era of U.S. higher education long past, according to Rocco L. Capraro, who wrote an essay published in What Works: A Book About Raising Boys, Engaging Guys, and Educating Men.
As compared to college women and previous generations of college men, the sad facts:
- they read less;
- graduating from high school, they are not prepared for college;
- many are simply not attending college; and,
- those who matriculate aren’t graduating in large numbers.
These sad facts translate into the reality that if college admissions were gender-blind, then the majority of students at the nation’s most selective colleges would be women.
Of those men who do attend college today:
- they are less engaged in studies and student life;
- they receive lower grades and fewer academic honors (men in STEM courses–i.e., science, technology, engineering, and math–being the exception);
- they exhibit higher rates of alcohol and substance abuse and commit more social conduct violations; and,
- they use fewer student services and are more reluctant to seek help and attend support programs.
In sum, men are getting less out of their college experience, and they are not taking it upon themselves to do something about it.
So, what’s to be done? Capraro’s answer: “Men’s studies” that will enable college men:
- To get at the underlying causes of the lack of success of college men, what’s needed is to take a cue from feminist, critical race, and other explanatory systems to understand differentials in power to explain to college men the experience of college men, why they are struggling, and what they can do about it.
- To understand men’s experience, identity, and development throughout the life course—understanding men as men, not as generic human beings—will assist college men to know who they are (the social reality), what they think (stereotypes) and what they would like to be (the gender ideal). In short, to study “masculinities” so as to be able to discuss male students as males.
Capraro is optimistic, writing:
At bottom, what men’s studies teaches us, and where it can play a role in improving the lives of college men, is the fundamental insight that the totality of men’s experience cannot be explained by men’s power alone. True, objectively speaking, men as a group may still have power over women as a group; however, subjectively, individual men do not necessarily feel powerful, or behave as if they were in control. That is because many men engage in harmful, self-destructive behaviors linked to messages about manhood, or feel they do not measure up to the gender ideal, or are burdened by harmful stereotypes of what it means to be a man.
They are also socialized not to express their feelings, report symptoms, reveal their vulnerability, or otherwise deal in healthy ways with their emotions. And when it comes to learning, they learn at an early age that “school is for girls.” Masculinity leaves men feeling shamed and disempowered, suffering the negative consequences of their own notions of manhood and their own aversion to female identified values and attributes.
Worse yet, after steering men in the wrong direction, masculinity—insidiously and tragically—interferes with help-seeking behavior. No wonder so many men struggle in college. On campus, college women more likely to be sober and involved and men are drinking more—and more often—and are more distracted. College women in distress are more likely to seek out counseling centers or are referred by a friend, while college men become silent or act out. Informed by men’s studies, we can better design programs and services for college men, with men in mind.
If Capraro is to be believed, teachers and administrators in the nation’s K-12 schools are causing boys to become confused about what it means to be men so that, by the time high school graduation rolls around, they have absolutely no sense about their identity as males. Today, college men are “victims” who need to attend college to learn what who they are not only as men but also be educated in the various forms of “masculinities.” All of this will empower college men to be men, in the same way that college age women have been empowered through K-12 schools to seize upon their college experience to be equal and, it seems, surpass all of those poor, confused college men.
“Male studies.” The panacea for confused college men?
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
Catholic prelates are certainly entitled to their opinions but, when expressing those opinions, prelates should identify them as personal opinions. That’s especially true when Catholic prelates are speaking outside of their area of competence, as those opinions can be seized upon and promoted by others—and the mainstream media, in particular—as if they are official Church teaching.
Consider the example of Cardinal Óscar Andrés Rodríguez Maradiaga, the Salesian Archbishop of Tegucigalpa, Honduras, President of Caritas International, as well as Vatican spokesman with the International Monetary Fund and the World Bank. Concerning the issue of Third World debt, Cardinal Maradiaga has written: “In this time the free market has produced one sector which is booming: social exclusion.”
In The Catholic Herald, Phillip Booth has written that this type of “sloganeering” is unbecoming a Catholic prelate. To wit: Booth identifies two substantive errors evidencing themselves in Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga’s opinion.
Error #1:The number of people living in absolute poverty
- The past 6 years (the Cardinal’s point of reference) extended a 25-year period during which absolute poverty has declined more rapidly than at any previous time in human history. Unfortunately, that’s not happening in Honduras, which ranks as the 112 freest country in the world (out of 189) with 25% of its citizens living in absolute poverty.
- Those who live at the margins are not suffering due to free markets. No, their poverty is due to cronyism, corruption, and the absence of the basic conditions for markets to function. In that regard, Honduras ranks 162 (out of 189) of the easiest places in the world to start a business.
In South and Central American countries, governments are excluding citizens from markets. Citizens are not being excluded by markets. But, according to the Cardinal, it’s the “rich countries”—especially Italy and Spain—where markets exclude people are at fault for this “social exclusion.”
Unfortunately, the Cardinal errs once again. As Booth correctly has noted, Spain and Italy are not hotbeds of free-market liberalism. Spain is the 22nd freest country in Europe and Italy is the 35th freest.
Error #2: The markets are unconstrained
Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga has also overlooked how, in recent decades, governments have increasingly constrained markets. Again, Booth has rightly highlighted some inconvenient facts the Cardinal has conveniently overlooked:
- Between 1950 and 2010, government spending on the part of most of the world’s largest economies increased 200% as a proportion of national income. Much of this spending went to entitlement programs, the cost for which requires increasing taxes—thus decreasing income—and cutting back in other discretionary programs.
- The number of new laws and regulations passed and the proportion of people working for the government have also increased markedly over the past 20 years. This is true even of the financial sector.
Governments have been increasingly constraining markets, making it increasingly difficult for los pueblos to participate in free markets.
And that’s just the beginning of Booth’s well-founded critique of Cardinal Rodríguez Maradiaga’s opinion, because the Cardinal didn’t stop there. If people were to take the Cardinal seriously, Booth opines, nations like Britain would become more like Italy and Chile would become more like Honduras. Wouldn’t that be wonderful? Spread the pain around for all to experience rather than eliminate the pain so no one experiences it…the latter seeming to be the case, contrary to the Cardinal’s problematic opinion.
Booth is correct: Communicating one’s highly debatable opinions as if they are truth “undermines the respect in which in which clergy are held when they talk about issues on which they are (or should be) expert and authoritative.”
When it comes to economic matters, it would much better if prelates invited Catholic economists to write and publish papers from an informed Catholic perspective. Then, let other experts have at those papers to vet their contents “speaking clearly with frankness and listening with humility,” much like Pope Francis desires for the Synod on the Family.
To read Phillip Booth’s article in the Catholic Herald, click on the following link:
To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link:
Caring for and ruling the environment are biblical imperatives going back to the Book of Genesis. It’s a no-brainer: There is what might be termed a “Catholic environmentalism.”
This sound, theological proposition is not the ideology of those who worship at the altar of environmentalism and propounded by their stormy petrels and a compliant mainstream media. It is not rooted in contrived “facts” supported by spurious research that, in the end, is dubious research, at best. It also is not “sexy” in the sense that Catholic environmentalism will win the Church a Nobel Prize or that Pope Francis will jet across the imperiled globe in a private jet, increasing his carbon footprint while, at the same time, preaching against everyone else who does so.
No, Catholic environmentalism is constructed upon a profound sense of responsibility for the gift of nature, entrusted to humanity by its Creator. Love of God and of neighbor are the twin pillars upon which Catholic environmentalism is constructed. Catholic environmentalism is, as Pope Francis has said of marriage and fidelity to spouse and family, “a beautiful thing.”
That said, it appears some very high Vatican operatives have become smitten with the secular version of environmentalism, relying upon its dubious “scientific” reserach to assert that it’s a “moral imperative” to act with regard to “climate change.” Consider what the Vatican Secretary of State, Cardinal Pietro Parolin, said to the 2014 United Nations’ Climate Change Summit:
The scientific consensus is rather consistent and it is that, since the second half of the last century, warming of the climate system is unequivocal. It is a very serious problem which, as I said, has grave consequences for the most vulnerable sectors of society and, clearly, for future generations.
Numerous scientific studies, moreover, have emphasized that human inaction in the face of such a problem carries great risks and socioeconomic costs. This is due to the fact that its principal cause seems to be the increase of greenhouse gas concentrations in the atmosphere due to human activity. Faced with these risks and costs, prudence must prevail, which requires thoughtful deliberations based on an accurate analysis of the impact our actions will have on the future.
The problem with Cardinal Parolin’s assessment is that no “scientific consensus” exists concerning global warming. What exists are manipulated data—which many have called “fraudulent”—that conform to the ideology of those who worship at the altar of environmentalism and whose political goal is to impose a novus ordo saeculum—a new one-world order—across the globe.
Considering the content of the Cardinal’s speech, it might just as well have been written by those who worship at the altar of environmentalism. Yes, it might not promote the gospel of global warming, but it’s there. Yes, it may not be hysterical in tone, but it’s there. What’s next, a papal encyclical concerning the Earth’s melting icecaps which are raising the ocean’s levels and threatenting to imperil cities, when, in fact those icecaps are expanding? Another papal encyclical calling upon the people of the earth to protect the endangered polar bears whose numbers are actually expanding?
The Vatican oftentimes is criticized for immersing itself in matters that are “beyond the Church’s competence.” That’s certainly apropos in this regard. There absolutely is an imperative—a scripturally-based imperative—to care for and rule creation in order to ensure the next generation’s health and well-being. As Cardinal Parolin notes, that would be “prudent.”
But, to provide propaganda for those who worship at the altar of environmentalism that will be propagated by their stormy petrels as well as a compliant mainstream media isn’t good diplomacy. Especially when those statements are rooted in falsehood.
To read Cardinal Parolin’s address, click on the following link:
Imagine what it must be like to be the President of Gonzaga University (GU)—a Jesuit, Catholic, and humanistic university—located in Spokane, Washington. Not only does GU’s President have to contend with the demands of a diverse and inclusive group of administrators, faculty, staff, and students but he also has to contend with the insufferable demands of a conservative Catholic alumni group—“The 1887 Trust”—whose mission is “to provide a source of information, a means of communication, and a collective voice to Gonzaga University alumni and others in the Gonzaga family who are concerned about preserving and recovering the Catholic identity of the University.”
According to the 1887 Trust’s latest bulletin, administrators, faculty, staff, and students—in the name of supporting GU’s mission—have successfully agitated to:
- promote the 2009 “Consent is Sexy” campaign;
- host the play, The Vagina Monologues, in 2011;
- invite Archbishop Desmond Tutu—a high-profile supporter of abortion rights and contraception—to deliver the 2012 commencement address;
- offer benefits to same-sex couples beginning in 2013;
- acquiesce in 2013 to the Obamacare “accommodation” that offers contraceptives indirectly as a health benefit;
- refuse to defend religious liberty; and,
- celebrate and affirm wider cultural views about homosexuality in 2014.
What the 1887 Trust wants GU’s President to do is to lead the institution in such a way that it gives “uncompromising witness” to the “Church’s moral teaching, and the defense of her freedom.”
Just how should GU’s President do that? By leading a “sexual revolution” on GU’s campus.
According to the 1887 Trust:
…We believe that Gonzaga University’s leadership is failing to fulfill its responsibility to uphold and defend its Catholic mission in the area of human sexuality. The failures are serious and the school has been failing for some time and so, yes, we believe a “revolution” in outlook and practice is required if Gonzaga is to mend its Catholic identity.
Imagine such audacity!
The 1887 Trust contends:
The revolt Gonzaga needs is one that’s staged by faithful Catholic students and faculty on campus and by board members who are concerned about the continued weakening of Gonzaga’s Catholic identity. Faithful Catholics should demand strong institutional support for magisterial teaching about sexual morality. Differing opinions are valued in academic settings, but Gonzaga’s institutional voice must be true to its mission…
One often hears Catholic university administrators and faculty say that “students must confront the issues of today and be prepared to encounter ‘the other’ and learn to be inclusive.” Somehow, the ‘others’ that our students are taught to encounter and appreciate are most often representatives of groups who wish to re-make the Church in their image, if not dismantle it altogether. The faculty members who are so very supportive of fostering encounters with those “on the margins” seldom seem to be as engaged in fostering an inclusive appreciation for what the Catholic Church actually teaches as the truth about human sexuality. It is long past time for a “radical and pervasive change” in Gonzaga’s approach to its Catholic identity. Call it a revolution, if you will, or call it metanoia. Either way, we believe it is worth working for, and praying for.
Isn’t this all so very sad, isn’t it? A GU alumni group that’s demanding the institution’s President to strengthen GU’s Catholic, Jesuit, and humanistic identity by providing appropriate institutional support to Catholic teaching concerning sexual morality. Aren’t alumni supposed to fork over $$$s and that’s it?
These Catholic right-wing nut wackos just don’t “get it,” do they?
Why won’t they just disappear into some empty Gothic-style Catholic Church where Mass is conducted in Latin? Administering GU would be so much easier, wouldn’t it?
To read The 1887 Trust’s latest bulletin, click on the following link:
For the past 20 years, some wonderful young college students have been participating in “Crossroads Walk,” dedicating the 3 months of their summer vacation to trek each year across the nation on behalf of life.
The walk started in 1995 when 15 Franciscan University of Steubenville (OH) students took up then-Pope John Paul II’s challenge to you to spread the gospel of life. Those 15 students now number several hundred thousand and their 1 annual walk has grown into 3. Beginning in May and ending in August, participants trek from Seattle, San Francisco, and San Jose-Los Angeles, crossing 36 states before reaching their destination: Washington, DC. Each group covers anywhere from 10k-15k miles. Weekends feature the groups praying, providing counselling in front of abortion clinics, and speaking at local churches.
No doubt about it, Crossroads is a pro-life “civil rights” organization whose members seek to protect the civil right of the “right to life.”
Catch a glimpse of Crossroads Walk 2014:
Dr. Edward Mulholland, an assistant professor of classical and modern languages at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, recently discussed a prayer for students composed by St. Thomas Aquinas which the Angelic Doctor prayed before studying:
Creator of all things, true source of light and wisdom, origin of all being, graciously let a ray of your light penetrate the darkness of my understanding.
Take from me the double darkness in which I have been born, an obscurity of sin and ignorance.
Give me a keen understanding, a retentive memory, and the ability to grasp things correctly and fundamentally. Grant me the talent of being exact in my explanations and the ability to express myself with thoroughness and charm.
Point out the beginning, direct the progress, and help in the completion. I ask this through Jesus Christ our Lord. Amen.
Commenting on this prayer as it concerns college students, Dr. Mulholland describes parents and educators some of whom believe education is only about academics, others of whom believe it’s all about money, and yet others of whom believe it’s about prestige. And, yes, there are those parents and educators—almost certainly a very tiny minority in today’s world—who could care less about all of that, believing as they do that education is all about getting young people to persevere in morality.
As St. Thomas’ prayer reminds all of us, education and the virtue of humility are inextricably related: The proper attitude toward learning—whether in an elementary or secondary school or a college or university—is to allow God to form one’s mind to grasp the light of truth and, then, to will it in one’s life from the beginning through its completion. With that attitude, other utilitarian ends—academic success, money, and prestige—are put into proper perspective with morality becoming an imperative.
In 2008, the Pew Forum on Religion & Public Life/U.S. Religious Landscape survey reported the prayer habits of Americans. Of particular interest, note the habits of U.S. Catholics:
Among U.S. Catholics who report they do pray and broken down by political ideology, the following pattern emerges:
Of those Catholic parents who report they do pray—irrespective of political ideology—how many pray for their children ?
With the new academic year now underway in many locales, wouldn’t it be wonderful if parents wrote down St. Thomas’ prayer on a notecard and presented it to each of their children, asking them to say the prayer at the start of each day of school? Better yet, to tell their children they will be saying St. Thomas’ prayer for each of them at the start of each school day?
To read Dr. Mulholland’s article, click on the following link: