Is the Church pro-civil unions?


In Chiesa Express Online, Sandro Magister scoops stories for Catholics in much the same way Matt Drudge does for political junkies in his Drudge Report.  In the end, the news and analysis sometimes aren’t “the whole truth and nothing but the whole truth” because they are reported in real time as the stories continue to develop.

Sandro Magister’s report today is a stunner and, if the story develops as Magister’s account suggests it may, will end up being a blockbuster of a scoop, reverberating globally for proponents of “civil unions”…supported by the Church.

The bottom line?

Magister cites the New York Times article which reported that then-Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio—when the passage of a “homosexual marriage” law was being debated in Argentina—“was in favor of a compromise solution that would have legitimized civil unions for homosexuals.”

To be fair, Bergoglio also wrote that the new law was a product of “the envy of the devil, through which sin entered into the world: an envy that seeks astutely to destroy the image of God; that is, the man and woman who receive the command to grow, multiply, and rule the earth.”  But, Bergoglio wrote that in a letter sent to four convents of cloistered nuns.

Complicating this story are some high-ranking prelates who have sided with the proponents of civil unions.  Read the post for the details, the most troubling being the Archbishop-Emeritus of Mechelen-Brussels, Cardinal Godfried Daneels, who has stated that the Church “has never opposed the fact that there should exist a sort of ‘marriage’ between homosexuals, but one therefore speaks of a ‘sort of’ marriage, not of true marriage between a man and a woman, therefore another word must be found for the dictionary.”  Daneels concluded: “About the fact that this should be legal, that it should be made legitimate through a law, about this the Church has nothing to say.”

The problem: The Pope’s silence on the matter—evidently because he is more concerned about “the oppression of the poor and defrauding workers of their wages—rather than….the sin of the sodomites,” according to Magister.  He notes:

But to react to the challenge he relies more upon the prayers of the cloistered sisters than upon public proclamations, solemn declarations, or demonstrations in the street.

Until today there are no signs that as bishop of Rome he may wish to change this line of conduct.

Then, too,  the Vatican’s spokesman, Jesuit Father Federico Lombardi, has stated:

[One must] clearly emphasize that marriage between a man and a woman is a specific and fundamental institution in the history of humanity. This does not change the fact that there could be some recognition of other forms of union between two persons. (italics added)

When asked what about Pope Francis’ reaction, Fr. Lombardi said: “It is the pope who must speak, I will let him talk.”

So, is the Pope open to and will the Church work out an accommodation concerning civil unions?

That’s not the primary question of interest to The Motley Monk, although it probably is focal for the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith.

“What is going on here?” is The Motley Monk’s primary question.

Let there be no doubt that proponents of “homosexual marriage” will do everything in their power to advance their cause by besmirching Church teaching concerning marriage and family life.  One favorite tactic involves depicting the Church as anachronistic and insensitive to the experience of human beings with “same-sex attraction.”  Another favorite tactic involves marginalizing the Church by “exposing” the hypocrisy of the episcopate and of clerics in general, pointing out that many of them are not only homosexual but actually side with the proponents, yet live in fear of retribution if they speak their minds freely.

But, this “exposé” of then-Cardinal Bergoglio’s supposed support for some kind of compromise concerning civil unions, might reveal an attempt on the part of the proponents of “homosexual marriage” to bully now-Pope Francis by conflating two different ideas—social justice and so-called “homosexual marriage”—in an effort to get the Church to legitimate civil unions as a first step toward the latter.

If true, the Pope must tread very carefully.  He is on the record as favoring a compromise solution that would have legitimized civil unions for persons of the same sex.

How will the Holy Father address this matter?



To read Sandro Magister’s post, click on the following link:



Matt Birk #77 “Walks the Talk”


Kudos to retired Baltimore Ravens center Matt Birk.


The six-time Pro-Bowler and member of the Ravens’ 2013 Super Bowl team chose not to attend a Ravens team meeting on Wednesday with President Barack Obama at the White House.


#77 is an ardent pro-life Catholic and his public criticism of the pro-abortion lobby now extends to President Obama for his very public support of Planned Parenthood.

On Thursday, Birk said in  an interview on KFAN radio in Minneapolis:

I would say this, I would say that I have great respect for the office of the presidency but about five or six weeks ago, our President made a comment in a speech and he said, “God bless Planned Parenthood”….Planned Parenthood performs about 330,000 abortions a year.

I am Catholic, I am active in the pro-life movement, and I just felt like I couldn’t deal with that.  I couldn’t endorse that in any way…I’m very confused by [the President’s] statement. For God to bless a place where they’re ending 330,000 lives a year? I just chose not to attend.

Without fanfare, Matt Birk #77 represents well the “vocation of the laity” envisioned by the Second Vatican Council:

They exercise the apostolate in fact by their activity directed to the evangelization and sanctification of men and to the penetrating and perfecting of the temporal order through the spirit of the Gospel. In this way, their temporal activity openly bears witness to Christ and promotes the salvation of men. Since the laity, in accordance with their state of life, live in the midst of the world and its concerns, they are called by God to exercise their apostolate in the world like leaven, with the ardor of the spirit of Christ. (I.2.d)

Now that he’s retired from the NFL, perhaps #77 should evangelize those Catholics members of the U.S. Congress who don’t “get it.”



A win-lose for desecrating the Eucharist?


With yesterday being the Solemnity of Corpus Christi, it might do Catholics well to continue reflecting not only on the Body and Blood of Christ but also concerning how far clever marketers are willing to go to desecrate the Eucharist with the goal of promoting their products.

For example, consider the Australian company, AussieMite, which makes a spread of “the finest ingredients.”

 According to the company’s website:

AussieMite was founded by Roger Ramsey. His dream was to bring the best tasting savoury spread, made from the finest nutritions ingredients, a true Australian product, in support of fellow Australians.

We are grateful for all the support over the years and proud of our premium delicious product. It’s been a labour of love, as we strive to do our very best.

We hope you enjoy our delicious savoury spread.

Mr. Ramsey must surely believe the contents of his commercial appropriate.  Why not promote the product by lampooning a central tenet of the Catholic faith?  Or, Mr. Ramsey might ask, “Don’t Catholics have sense enough to realize the humor?”  Or, might it be that Mr. Ramsey thinks the Eucharist is nothing more than a superstitious belief deserving of being mocked in order to promote his product to like-minded people?


It works.


As Brendan O’Donnell noted on the company’s Facebook page:

Thye ad is actually quite funny. Perhaps it’s time that the silent majorities around the world stopped being pushed around by minority groups of faceless wowser freaks who are still missing their witch hunts and burning at the stake.

Kelly Dillon wrote:

Loved the ad, off to buy a jar in the morning

Wayne Stringer added:

Thye [sic] ad is actually quite funny. Perhaps it’s time that the silent majorities around the world stopped being pushed around by minority groups of faceless wowser freaks who are still missing their witch hunts and burning at the stake.

Calling the ad “bloody appalling,” the Catholic blogger, Matt Fradd, has called for a boycott.

Trouble is, “Damned if you do.  Damned if you don’t.”

A boycott is likely to draw greater attention to the ad and increase the product’s sales.  The marketers win!

Perhaps it would be better to heed Jesus’ injunction: “This kind cannot be driven out by anything but prayer” (Mark 9:29).




A saint at work in the world…


Theological debate tends to divide, as each side in the intellectual debate attempts to prevail with its cherished argument being stamped as “Orthodox.”

In this regard, the Lutheran theologian Jaroslav Pelikan wrote something to this effect: “The orthodox in one generation had better be careful, as in the next generation they may be the heterodox.  And, the heterodox in one generation also had better be careful, as in the next generation they may be the orthodox.”

Thomas Aquinas comes to mind.

Seemingly unaffected by this important debate, the saints continue living the Gospel, even today.

Marielle Wakim, an editor at Los Angeles Magazine, forwarded to me a feature article appearing in its May 2013 edition concerning one of these saints among us.  Reading the article, I thought of Pelikan’s admonition.

From the profile aired years ago on 60 Minutes, readers of The American Catholic may be familiar with “G Dog,” “Father G,” “G,” or to those who’ve met him more recently, “Pops.”   He’s Fr. Gregory Boyle, SJ, founder of Homeboy Industries, which he launched 25 years ago in Los Angeles and has built into the world’s most successful gang rehabilitation and re-entry program.

Fr. G

Fr. Gregory Boyle, SJ
Founder, Homeboy Industries

“G” exemplifies a man on a mission—a saint—who has accomplished with real human beings what no government agency could ever accomplish.

A man of prayer, “G” rises each morning at 4:30 in his room at a Jesuit-owned Craftsman bungalow in East L.A. for one hour of prayer and meditation.  Yes, during the day “G” may drop the “F-bomb” in contentious situations and, yes, “G” enjoys single malt (Laphroaig).  On weekends, “G” celebrates Mass and counsels detainees at youth probation camps, performs baptisms, weddings, and quinceañeras, and answers ex-gang members’ distress calls. Thursday is supposed to be “G’s” day off, but spending at least 100 days each year away from Homeboys on speaking tours, forget that.

One of those whose life has been changed by meeting “G” is Mario Cisneros, who said:

I was running around, back and forth to jail, and I got shot in the stomach and still I’m not stopping—not asking myself “What’s wrong with this picture?” Finally my little brother, 15 years old, gets shot—they killed him. “Is this the time?” I said no, and I kept going and the gangs were at war, back and forth, back and forth. Little by little we’re just decreasing the population of our neighborhoods. And then finally I got tired of it. God’s giving me these passes, and I better take advantage of them….So I walk through the doors of Homeboy Industries and it’s such a beautiful place. It’s the best place I’ve ever been. You can feel the love whenever you walk in. When Father G walks up to me and says, “You ready?” I’m ready.

Once a high-level drug dealer with a gang, Hector Verguo—a Protestant who now takes the seat behind the Executive Director’s desk when “G” travels, told his fiancée that Homeboy would always come first for him:

Since I’ve been at Homeboy, I got to see God at work.  You see miracles happen here, like a miracle factory.  And when you see it happen in front of you, you know that this is supernatural—this is God.

While “G” has been eminently successful in building Homeboy into an enterprise that rehabilitates gang members, addicts, and the like by giving hope who believe themselves to be hopeless, this “saint” isn’t the best of mendicants.  Perhaps that’s why Marielle Wakim forwarded the article to me…to generate some donations for Homeboys Industries.

Whatever.  It’s the Lord’s ongoing work of salvation and the May 2013 Los Angeles Magazine feature about “G” and his mission is inspiring, even if “G’s” theology might be “radical” or “heterodox,” depending upon which side of the debate one supports.



To read the Los Angeles Magazine’s article featuring “G,” click on the following link:


Will general satisfaction be fueled by propaganda into general disatisfaction?


Following the election of Pope Francis, many were asking “What do you think of the new Pope?”

Judging from the responses, there was general satisfaction with the election of the Argentinian pontiff.  His “humility” and “genuineness” seemed to top the list of reasons explaining this satisfaction.


Then came Holy Thursday and the foot washing.  The new Pope washed the feet of women, including Muslim women.

This action raised a few eyebrows, especially on the part of conservative Catholics.  “There were no female apostles,” was the standard response.

Questions were raised, too, especially on the part of the American catholique left.

“Was the Pope signaling ‘openness’ to new forms of ordained ministry, perhaps women deacons and priests?” those asking the question were wondering…and, truth be told, hoping.

holy thursday

Just as some conservatives correctly opined early into this new pontificate, that “signal” is now being taken as “fact” by some on the American catholique left.

According to a press release, Dr. Debra Meyers is to be “ordained” as Cincinnati’s first woman, Roman Catholic priest on May 25, 2013, at St. John’s Unitarian Universalist Church.  Dr. Meyers’ ordination follows upon the April 27, 2013, “ordination” of Dr. Rosemarie Smead in Louisville, KY.


The press release states:

Women priests are leading the Catholic Church into a new era of justice and equality for women in the church. We are the “Rosa Parks” of the Roman Catholic Church….Since two-thirds of the world’s poor are women, justice and equality must be top priorities for our church. Our world and church can no longer function without the voices of women’s lived experience. Women priests are visible reminders that all women are images of God.

Okay.  That’s what the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests (ARCWP) thinks.  That’s nothing new.

But, the press statement offers two “signals” indicating that Pope Francis has encouraged their extra-ecclesial conduct:

The first signal: “We are encouraged by the tender gesture of Pope Francis who washed the feet of women in prison on Holy Thursday, thus breaking the sexist tradition of washing only men’s feet.”

The second signal: “During the Easter homily Francis affirmed women as the first witnesses to the Resurrection. ‘This tells us that God does not choose according to human criteria….The women are driven by love and know how to accept this proclamation with faith: they believe, and immediately transmit it, they do not keep it for themselves.’”

The important point is not that ARCWP types are “cutting” and “pasting” snippets of the Holy Father’s actions and statements into statements to indicate his support of their erroneous beliefs.  That’s bad enough.  The important point is that those actions and statements lend themselves to this type of propaganda.

In response, some have opined that Pope Francis is “learning how to be Pope.”  People should calm down and expect some bumps as the neophyte pontiff navigates that learning curve.

Perhaps there’s some merit to that opinion.

That said, it doesn’t take a member of Mensa to know that greater savvy is required on the international stage.  Might it not be better, especially at the beginning and early months (or first year) of a pontificate, for the Pope just to “do the red” and “say the black” until he’s clearer about his responsibilities as well as the scope and impact of the exercise of those responsibilities as the Chief Shepherd?

Yes, the American catholique left would get angry with him.  But, they’d argue, he’s been a Vaticanista apparatchik all along.  He wasn’t created a cardinal advocating for women’s ordination or anything else on their agenda.


When the Pope’s opponents on the American catholique left see the Holy Father betraying his “social justice” roots, they won’t just be angry.  No, that won’t express sufficiently the depth of their outrage, and perhaps that of the 70% of American Catholics who allegedly support the ordination of women.

That potentially could fuel even greater resistance than there is at present among a much broader swath of the Catholic populace in the United States than if the Holy Father had simply let the American catholique left portray him as a Vaticanista apparatchik.  Amidst their griping, complaining, and moaning, he would be steering the ship of Holy Mother Church directly toward the Way, the Truth, and the Life.



To read the Association of Roman Catholic Women Priests press release, click on the following link:


An instructive lesson: What makes a university “Catholic”…


Academic administrators at the University of San Diego (USD) have offered what they believe is an instructive lesson—actually the second act in the drama titled “Inclusion and Diversity in U.S. Catholic Higher Education”—for knuckle-headed and knuckle-dragging Catholic Neanderthals who just don’t get what it means to be a truly Catholic university.


The instructive lesson is “PRIDE’s Celebration of Gender Expression: Supreme Drag Superstar2.”  The event, sponsored by USD PRIDE ( an organization of undergraduate students who are lesbian, gay, bisexual, transgendered, questioning, and/or allies of the LGBTQ community) and approved by USD’s Office of Student Affairs, will take place on Thursday, April 25, at 7 p.m. in USD’s Shiley Theater.

According to the USD Vice President of Student Affairs:

Similar to last year’s event, this show will be a combination of informative dialogue, campus resource offerings at information tables, and playful lip-synch performances designed both to raise awareness and understanding of the complex issues surrounding gender identity and expression, and to underscore the importance of mutual respect and the dignity of each individual.

The show as scheduled violates neither the university’s mission nor any university policies. The Celebration of Gender Expression supports the Church’s teaching on the dignity of the human person and does not promote either behavior or lifestyle that is contrary to the teachings of the Church.

USD supports its students in their journey and defends their right to plan and carry out events that conform to the rules uniformly applied to all approved student activities at the university.

Last year, USD President Mary Lyons defended Supreme Drag Superstar1.  In a letter to USD’s Board of Trustees, President Lyons wrote that the event was “intended to foster students’ understanding of, and empathy for, the complexities of gender non-conformity.”  More importantly, President Lyons also cited California state law and the fact that other Catholic universities have hosted drag shows as reasons for USD to approve the show.

So, if President Lyons is to be believed, one of the identifying characteristics of a Catholic university is sponsoring a drag show to underscore the importance of mutual respect and the dignity of each individual as well as to celebrate gender expression, albeit “in a way that supports the Church teaching on the dignity of the human person.”


To pre-empt the anticipated negative response to Drag Superstar2, USD administrators have released a statement touting the event as “educational.”

Not true, at least according to a statement issued by the Concerned Catholic USD Students:

The drag show undermines the dignity of the human person by advancing an ideology that is contrary to the natural law, and ultimately perpetuates the deep wounds of gender confusion rather than bringing true healing.

What is it that USD administrators “get” about Catholic higher education that those knuckle-headed and knuckle-dragging Catholic Neanderthals who belong to Concerned Catholic USD Students “don’t get”?




The honeymoon may be over…


With the publication of one paragraph by the Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith, it appears that the Catholic left’s honeymoon with Pope Francis may have hit a dead end.  The paragraph reads:

…Archbishop Müller informed the Presidency that he had recently discussed the Doctrinal Assessment with Pope Francis, who reaffirmed the findings of the Assessment and the program of reform for this Conference of Major Superiors.

What’s this?  Pope Francis is going to continue the process initiated by Pope Benedict XVI that is intended to curtail the doctrinal and liturgical errors propounded by the leadership of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR)?  Wasn’t this new pope—the pope of the people and the poor—supposed to be on the side of those who are oppressed and marginalized by all of those unjust social, political, and yes, religious structures that benefit the few?

According to a communique by the Holy See, there was a meeting earlier today including the Superiors of the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, the Presidency of the LCWR, and the Most Reverend J. Peter Sartain, Archbishop of Seattle and the Holy See’s Delegate for the Doctrinal Assessment of the LCWR.  According to the communique, the CDF Prefect, the Most Rev. Gerhard Ludwig Müller, first expressed “his gratitude for the great contribution of women Religious to the Church in the United States as seen particularly in the many schools, hospitals, and institutions of support for the poor which have been founded and staffed by Religious over the years.”  Cardinal Müller then

…highlighted the teaching of the Second Vatican Council regarding the important mission of Religious to promote a vision of ecclesial communion founded on faith in Jesus Christ and the teachings of the Church as faithfully taught through the ages under the guidance of the Magisterium (Cf. Lumen gentium, nn. 43-47). He also emphasized that a Conference of Major Superiors, such as the LCWR, exists in order to promote common efforts among its member Institutes as well as cooperation with the local Conference of Bishops and with individual Bishops. For this reason, such Conferences are constituted by and remain under the direction of the Holy See (Cf. Code of Canon Law, can. 708-709).

It was after this little lecture that Cardinal Müller shot the missle across the LCWR’s port bow.

The Catholic left will not be happy and their minions in the mainstream media will surely fire back.  In fact, it’s already happening.  Hard questions are being raised  about Pope Francis’ record in Argentina. According to John Allen, these questions include:

  • Bergoglio’s response to two priests accused of sexual abuse, where critics have suggested he dropped the ball;
  • why Argentina’s conference of Catholic bishops did not finish a set of sex abuse guidelines while he served as president;
  • his relationship with Argentina’s military dictatorship as a Jesuit provincial during the 1970s;
  • Bergoglio’s attitude toward liberation theology; and
  • confusion over where he stood on the question of civil unions during a contentious national debate on gay marriage in 2009 and 2010.

Read Allen’s findings here.

Just a few short weeks ago upon his election as Pope, the LCWR issued the following statement:

The Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) offers its congratulations and heartfelt prayer to Pope Francis as he assumes the papacy at this critical time for the Catholic Church.

Cardinal Jorge Mario Bergoglio demonstrated great dedication to the mission of the Church during his leadership in Argentina. As he serves in the papacy, we trust that his many gifts will continue to be spent on behalf of the universal church, and most especially for people who live in poverty in all parts of the world.

As a conference of leaders of orders of Catholic sisters in the United States, we welcome Pope Francis’s spiritual leadership and look forward to working with him in carrying forward the Gospel message.

The honeymoon isn’t over…it’s likely hit a dead end.  Will the Catholic left characterize Pope Francis—who told the clergy of Rome on Holy Thursday to be with their sheep and to smell like their sheep—as a “wolf in sheep’s clothing”?



To read the communique, click on the following link:

To read John Allen’s article in NCROnline, click on the following link:

To read the LCWR statement, click on the following link:



Sometimes stories like these take on a second life and a third life…


A nest of hornets have been stirred in the Catholic blogosphere.  According to the Catholic World Report, administrators at Gonzaga University (GU) have refused the application of the Knights of Columbus group to be recognized as an official student group.

What’s the problem?

According to GU’s Vice President for Student Life, Sue Weitz:

The Knights of Columbus, by their very nature, is a men’s organization in which only Catholics may participate via membership. These criteria are inconsistent with the policy and practice of student organization recognition at Gonzaga University, as well as the University’s commitment to non-discrimination based on certain characteristics, one of which is religion.

Undeterred by the charge that the Knights of Columbus is discriminatory and noninclusive when it comes to its membership criteria, the former advisor to the group, Dr. Eric Cunningham, responded:

The chief reason for my confusion is that as an organization, the Knights of Columbus is, by these criteria, identical to the Society of Jesus. How strange it is to think that if Ignatius of Loyola and his companions, who were students at the University of Paris when they established the Society, had tried to apply for club status at Gonzaga, they would have been denied.

I can’t help but wonder if it is the intention of the Office of Student Life to dissociate itself from Gonzaga University because of the Jesuits’ long-standing practice of such “discrimination,” or will Student Life instead choose to initiate action to remove the Society of Jesus from its affiliation with the Gonzaga community?

This may strike you as an absurd inquiry, but it is actually a logical response to the rationale in your decision. As you noted, the revival of the Catholic Daughters on campus would solve the “gender-exclusivity” problem, but alas, the Catholic Daughters are Catholic too, and that seems to be central problem.

It would appear that the Knights of Columbus have been denied recognition as a club on this Catholic campus specifically because it is a Catholic group. Is that not the only conclusion one might draw?

Well, it’s certainly not the only conclusion one might draw.  But, it certainly is indisputable that the Knights of Columbus is discriminatory and noninclusive when it comes to its membership criteria.  Members must not only be Catholic males, but practicing Catholic males.  And, it appears, that’s a mortal sin when it comes attaining club status at Gonzaga.

But, that’s where this story takes on its second life.

As it just so happens, Catholic Education Daily is reporting that legislators in Idaho and Virginia are inviting religious student clubs to seek official recognition at public universities.

Governor Bob McDonnell of Virginia signed the “Student Group Protection Act” on March 26, giving religious clubs the right to define their doctrines and, to the extent allowed by law, to limit membership to students who are committed to their missions.  Govervnor C.L. “Butch” Otter of Idaho followed up on March 29 when he signed the Campus Access for Religious Students, requiring the state’s universities to recognize religious clubs despite faith-based membership requirements.  Both laws provide for the “special needs” of religious-oriented clubs that have faith requirements for their leaders and members.

Might Knights of Columbus councils be officially recognized as student clubs at state universities in Virginia and Idaho and but not at a Catholic university in Spokane, WA?

Well, GU administrators do have an ace up their sleeves, one that may give this story yet a third life.

As it just so happens, Georgetown University in Washington, DC—also a Jesuit institution—ruled its Knights of Columbus Council 6375 ineligible for official recognition as a student club.  So, too, Fordham University in New York City—another Jesuit institution—ruled its Knights of Columbus Council 6077 ineligible for official recognition as a student club.  However, both institutions allow their Knights of Columbus councils to operate under special supervision from their respective campus ministry offices.

Wouldn’t it be ironic if secular universities officially recognize Knights of Columbus councils as student clubs while Catholic universities—like Gonzaga, Georgetown, and Fordham—don’t because administrators have determined that the organization is discriminatory and noninclusive?



To read the article in the Catholic World Report, click on the following link:

To read the article in Catholic Education Daily, click on the following link:


It all depends upon how one defines the word “bigot”…


Taken at face value, the logic appears sound: Bigotry is “bad” and, as a consequence, bigots must not be tolerated on diverse and inclusive university campuses.

And so, at George Washington University (GWU) in Washington, DC, the Reverend Gregory Shaffer—who has served at GWU’s Newman Center for the past five years—must be removed because he is…well, um…a bigot.

GWU Newman

The Reverend Gregory Shaffer presiding at GWU’s Palm Sunday Mass

According to the GW Hatchet, GWU’s independent student newspaper,it has been alleged that Fr. Shaffer’s “bigotry” is reflected in his anti-homosexual and anti-abortion beliefs and statements.

For example, after President Barack Obama performed a pirouette regarding so-called “homosexual marriage” in May 2012, Fr. Shaffer posted the following statement in the GW Catholic Forum:

As Vatican II states, God is the author of marriage. He has defined marriage as between a man and a woman. So, marriage is between a man and a woman. Period. This is not just divine law, it is natural law (the law imprinted on each of our hearts about good and evil). Every single rational person knows that sexual relationships between persons of the same sex are unnatural and immoral. They know it in their hearts. And, yet, they go against what their hearts tell them when they try to argue for same-sex relationships and “gay marriage”. President Obama is the latest person to enter into this with his comments this week in support of same-sex marriage. He knows in his heart that marriage is between a man and a woman; he stated this as recently as a few years ago. Neither he nor anyone else has the authority to redefine marriage. God is the author of marriage; He has the sole authority to define marriage. No human being can redefine marriage, especially a politician in an election year.

Statements like this—which restate the Catechism of the Catholic Church—are said to have alienated at least 12 students to the point they have quit GWU’s Newman Center.  It is reported that they  have said, “Oh, I would go to church all the time, but I don’t like Father Greg” (emphasis added).

Could it have been about young people like these GWU Catholic students that St. Paul instructed Timothy:

For the time will come when they will not endure sound doctrine; but wanting to have their ears tickled, they will accumulate for themselves teachers in accordance to their own desires, and will turn away their ears from the truth and will turn aside to myths.   (2 Timothy 4:3-4)

Even worse yet, one GWU senior—Damien Legacy—took offense with Fr. Shaffer’s counsel.  According to the Hatchet, Legacy spent considerable time at the Newman Center during his first two years at GWU, serving at Mass and even considering the possibility of becoming a priest after graduation.  However, after Legacy told Fr. Shaffer that he and another GWU senior—Blake Bergen—were involved in a homosexual relationship, Legacy claims that Fr. Shaffer accused him of immorality, lacking in faith, and called him “intrinsically disordered.”

Legacy said:

To have my faith leader view me that way, just because of one piece of the way that God made me, and to think that one part is responsible for the destruction of my human dignity, it just didn’t…I can’t even begin to describe the mental conflict that it creates.

Legacy and Bergen are now coordinating a campaign at GWU seeking to have Fr. Shaffer ousted.  Plans include:

  • Creating a video containing the statements of several students who have left GWU’s Newman Center to arouse anger in the student body, thus forcing school officials to act.
  • Filing a formal complaint with the administration and conducting prayer vigils outside the Newman Center.
  • Distributing a letter to high-ranking administrators, citing research that connects homophobic behavior to loss of appetite, insomnia and other detrimental psychological consequences.
  • Requesting GWU’s Student Association defund the Newman Center which reportedly collected $10,000 in funding this year.

For his part, Fr. Shaffer believes that religion and unrestricted speech “play a vital role at a diverse university like GW.”  But, Legacy wants GWU administrators—similar to their peers at other institutions, like New York University—to vet and evaluate religious leaders before allowing them to work with campus-affiliated groups.

So why shouldn’t Fr. Shaffer be allowed to restate Church teaching at GWU?  After all, GWU’s Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, Terri Harris Reed, told The Hatchet:

GW strives to maintain a community where individuals’ are free to express their religious beliefs and also respect the rights of others who have differing beliefs…[and also] supports free speech and takes seriously the role a university should play in encouraging expression of many points of view, even those we dislike or disagree with.

With GWU’s Office of Vice Provost for Diversity and Inclusion in the “early stages of a review,” Vice Provost Harris Reed said, “…it is premature to speak about the possibility or feasibility of any changes.”

Will the “tolerant” be “intolerant” of Church teaching in a diverse and inclusive community that “supports free speech and takes seriously the role a university should play in encouraging expression of many points of view, even those we dislike or disagree with”?

Time will tell just how tolerant, diverse, and inclusive the GWU community really is.




To read the article in The Hatchet, click on the following link:

To read Fr. Shaffer’s post in the GW Catholic Forum, click on the following link: http://gwcatholicforum.blogspot.com/2012/05/no-human-being-can-redefine-marriage.html




Eschewing liturgical protocol can cause some real world problems…


There are some on the Catholic left who are chortling in response to the “Good News” that Pope Francis washed the feet of 12 prisoners, aged 14-21—and two them, female prisoners—on Holy Thursday. The question they are in a frenzy about concerns how best to interpret this liturgical statement.  After all, the ritual calls for “viri” (i.e., “men” as in males). They are wondering: Is Pope Francis signaling something positive, namely, greater “inclusion” and “diversity” in the liturgy than has been customary during the past two pontificates?

According to The Telegraph, Pope Francis told his first general audience this past Wednesday:

Holy Week challenges us to step outside ourselves so as to attend to the needs of others: those who long for a sympathetic ear, those in need of comfort or help.


Eschewing protocol—stepping outside of ourselves and our comfort zones—is something Pope Francis apparently intends to do.  But, did the Pope step “outside of” or “beyond” liturgical protocol at the Holy Thursday liturgy? After all, one the two women whose feet he washed, one was a Serbian Muslim.



Some  on the Catholic right have been guarded in their evaluation of this Pope’s early ministry.  More traditional, liturgically conservative Catholics  have expressed concern about the new Pope’s approach to the liturgy, in particular.  The footwashing of the Serbian Muslim woman will heighten their level of discomfort.

More important than the liturgical statement Pope Francis may have intended to telegraph is that, in doing so, he may have overlooked, neglected, or disregarded, if not violated Muslim law.

According to the Code of Ethics for Muslim Men and Women—Rules Related to Socializing:

The Rules of Touching

193 – Rule: Body contact is not allowed with one who it is not allowed to look at, and every kind of touching of the body to any part of the other one’s body is haram and one must refrain from this; unless it from on top of the clothing and it is without the intention of lust. ABGKLMS


While the Pope may have intended this particular footwashing to be “a positive sign” in the life of the Serbian Muslim inmate whose foot he washed, strict Muslims may take offense.

Like Pope Benedict XVI, it may not be long before Pope Francis finds himself being challenged by an Imam who issues a fatwa.  In October 2006, Pakistan’s Jamaat-ud-Dawa has issued a fatwa asking the Muslim community to kill Pope Benedict for his “blasphemous” statement about Prophet Mohammad:

The Jamaat-ud-Dawa has declared death to Pope Benedict and said that in today’s world blasphemy of the Holy Koran and the Prophet has become a fashion….Prominent Jamaat leader Hafiz Saifullah Khalid said that in the present circumstances, jihad has become obligatory for each Muslim. Muslims are being declared terrorists and our battle for survival has already started. The Muslim world has rejected the Pope’s apology and decided to continue protests and demonstrations in big cities.


Eschewing protocol can be refreshing and prove reinvigorating.  It can be a sign of love and respect, fulfilling the spirit of the law” rather than living according to the “letter of the law.”

In retrospect, it can also cause unintended problems.



To read the article in The Telegraph, click on the following link:

To read the Muslim Code of Ethics rules of touching, click on the following link:

To read the about the fatwa issued against Pope Benedict XVI, click on the following link:


Who really deserves to be stomped on?

Across the state from Florida Gulf Coast University—so far, this year’s “March Madness” Cinderella team—a student at Florida Atlantic University (FAU), Ryan Rotella, claims to have been suspended from his Intercultural Communications class.

The problem?

According to CBS12 News, Rotella is a member of the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints.  His professor, Dr. Deandre Poole, asked students to write the word “Jesus” on a piece of paper and step on it.  Rotella refused, saying the act was insulting to his faith.

Surely, if Dr. Poole had students write “liberal activists,” “gays,” illegal immigrants,” “maggot-infested dopers,” “Obama,” or any other number of names or phrases on a piece of paper and step on it, and the students refused, they would be commended and Dr. Poole would be put on notice, no?

Rotella should be commended and the professor “put on notice,” no?

Let’s not forget, however, this is contemporary American higher education and not just as it being enacted in classrooms in the sunny State of Florida.

Conservative news outlets and websites jumped on the story, festooning their headlines with eye-catching statements including “Professor Makes Students ‘Stomp on Jesus.'”

To protect the institution’s “brand” from these right-wing media assaults, FAU’s administration issued the following statement:

A recent classroom exercise in an Intercultural Communication course at Florida Atlantic University has attracted public attention and has aroused concern on the part of some individuals and groups. The exercise was based on an example presented in a study guide to the textbook Intercultural Communication: A Contextual Approach5th Edition, written by a college professor who is unaffiliated with FAU. The course is taught by a non-tenured instructor on an annual appointment.

Contrary to some media reports, no students were forced to take part in the exercise; the instructor told all of the students in the class that they could choose whether or not to participate.

While we do not comment on personnel matters, and while student privacy laws prevent us from commenting on any specific student at the University, we can confirm that no student has been expelled, suspended or disciplined by the University as a result of any activity that took place during this class.

What is intriguing about this story is not that  FAU’s statement doesn’t contest the fact that Dr. Poole did invite the class to participate in this activity.  Nor is it intriguing that FAU’s statement contradicts Rotella’s, in that “no student has been…suspended.”  No, that’s all a sideshow, as those two items deflect from what really is interesting, namely, what must be going on in the minds of professors, like Dr. Poole, who believe they must introduce an activity like stomping on the name of Jesus into their classrooms.

Yes, they surely will argue, academic freedom guarantees their right to “push the boundaries” to get students “to think for themselves.”  In light of this lofty ideal, who should give one hoot about offending Christians?

Yet, this is to overlook what is intriguing about this story: The fact that professors don’t need to engage students’ feet in the activity of stomping on pieces of paper containing the name “Jesus” to learn to think for themselves.  After all, isn’t that  organ located at the opposite end of the human anatomy?

Then, too, there’s the administration’s “apology.”  FAU’s administration wrote:

This exercise will not be used again. The University holds dear its core values. We sincerely apologize for any offense this caused. Florida Atlantic University respects all religions and welcomes people of all faiths, backgrounds and beliefs.

Now, this  apology is very interesting.  Note how, as with so many so-called “apologies” today, the activity that’s being apologized for is “any offense this caused.”  The act itself—stomping on the name of Jesus in an FAU  classroom—doesn’t merit an apology.  No, what requires an apology is that some close-minded or perhaps even bigoted party or parties, like Ryan Rotella, took offense.  Apparently, Dr. Poole and others like Dr. Poole never “intend” to cause offense by introducing two-footed activities into their classrooms to get their students to think for themselves.

Perhaps students like Ryan Rotella should stomp on Dr. Poole and FAU administration as well.



To read the CBS12 article, click on the following link:

To read the FoxNews Radio story, click on the following link:

To read the FAU administration’s statement, click on the following link:

To access The Motley Monk’s webpage, click on the following link:


Thank goodness this logic wouldn’t prevail at the upcoming conclave…

The Orlando Sentinel is reporting that the InterVarsity Christian Fellowship (IVCF) at Rollins College in Winter Park, FL—which has been an officially recognized student group at the College since 1990—has been “de-recognized,” meaning that IVCF no longer receives funding from the College and is no longer allowed to recruit on campus, reserve meeting space, or claim any affiliation with the institution.

IVCF’s mortal sin?

IVCF had argued that religious groups on campus should be able to use religious criteria to choose their officers because they are considered “spiritual leaders.”  But, the Rollins College Board of Trustees has concluded this position violates the institution’s anti-discrimination policy by requiring IVCF leaders at Rollins to affirm their Christian faith and promote evangelical Christian beliefs concerning human sexuality.



What’s important about this story is not simply the fact that Rollins IVCF has been stripped of its “official recognition” as a student group and is itself being discriminated against.  No, what’s very important is the logic the Trustees used in making the decision as well as two examples College administrators provided to support the decision.

The logic:

In support of the goal of promoting a climate of open, free inquiry, Rollins College President Lewis Duncan explained:

The message [the Board’s decision] should send is that students of all faith traditions who are interested in open, free inquiry would find this a very welcoming place and that no one is excluded under that shared, open inquiry on the basis of their race, ethnicity, religion or orientation.

The two examples:

The operative word in the Trustees’ decision is “excluded” which here  means “from leadership positions.”  Last year, for example, the President of Rollins’ Latin American Student Association was an Asian-American student and the President of the Muslim Student Association was not Muslim.

“Support of the group’s essential mission be damned,” the Board’s decision implies, “anyone who wants to be a student leader in any organization should be able to serve in that role.”

Instead of arguing against the illogical decision, conservative, heterosexual, White males ought to take heart!  In effect, the “glass ceiling” has been shattered and the climate of “inclusivity” at Rollins now allows them to serve as President of the following officially-recognized student organizations:

  • The 85 Broads Rollins (85 Broads): an international women’s professional networking organization with chapters all over the world.
  • The Birds and the Bees: aims to educate members of the community and provide safe opportunities and environments to promote sexuality as a healthy, normal aspect of life. We also promote healthy body image, relationships and safe sex.
  • The Black Student Union: dedicated to learning about black and African-American culture and history and having a good time. Everyone is welcome.
  • The Caribbean Student Association: embraces all Caribbean cultures and nationalities through educating and communicating with the Rollins community in order to promote acceptance and understanding.
  • Chi Omega: the largest women’s fraternity in the world – Upsilon Beta has been established at Rollins since 1931, making it one of the oldest sororities on campus.
  • Latin American Student Association: a cultural organization that seeks to celebrate Latin culture from all over the world! You don’t have to be Latin to join!
  • Non Compis Mentis: a cohesive sisterhood that actively improves the Rollins Community through involvement and leadership in other organizations. We also aspire to provide a safe and healthy learning environment that fosters the growth and development….
  • Rollins Chinese Student Organization: promotes the Chinese culture on campus through events that showcase various aspects of the Chinese culture. The organization is open to all students interested in Chinese culture.
  • Sigma Alpha Iota Music Fraternity for Women: an International Music Fraternity for Women founded in 1903. The Lambda Iota chapter was created at Rollins in 2006. Members of SAI are proud of their strong heritage, supporting the art of music.
  • Sigma Gamma Rho: organized on November 12, 1922 at Butler University in Indianapolis, Indiana, by seven school teachers, SGRho continues to be steadfastly committed to the tenets of excellence in Scholarship, Sisterhood, and Service.
  • Social Justice League:  values members, promotes an educational environment for positive change and activism, fosters a safe and welcoming community, and is a social organization that provides support for those interested in nonviolent activism.
  • Spectrum: the Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual, Transgender/Sexual, Queer, Questioning, Intersex, Pansexual, Asexual, & Ally Alliance and Rollins College. Spectrum is a safe haven for all LGBTQQIPAA students to socialize, get support, and have fun!
  • Voices for Women: to empower women by educating members of the community and providing safe opportunities and environments for the promotion of feminism and gender equality.

And, if that’s not enough, how about: A self-professed, neo-Nazi as President of Rollins Hillel? A committed Christian evangelical as President of the Newman Club? An atheist as President of the Campus Crusade for Christ (Fiat Lux)? A Shi’ite or Sunni Muslim as President of the Jewish Student Union? An orthodox Jew as President of the Muslim Student Association?

This is what passes for “wisdom” in higher education today?

Meanwhile, across the pond, this logic suggests the upcoming conclave in Rome will smack of discrimination.  After all, the College of Cardinals has excluded from all sorts of human beings as papabile—each of whom has been created in God’s image and likeness—based solely on the basis of gender and religion.

And, there are many who will argue a biblical basis for calling this narrowing of the roster of papabile discriminatory.  Didn’t St. Paul write “There is neither Jew nor Greek, slave nor free, male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus” (Galatians 3:28)?

If the cardinals are going to be a truly inclusive group, perhaps they should invite the Rollins’ College Board of Trustees to their consultations before moving forward in electing the next Pope.



To read the Orlando Sentinel article, click on the following link:

To access The Motley Monk’s webpage, click on the following link:


What to pray for on the 2013 World Day of Prayer for Peace: Some facts and some perspective…


With the “World Day of Prayer for Peace” just around the corner, what should people be praying for?  Perhaps a few facts along with a bit of perspective will provide a better focus for answering that question.

First: some facts.

Since its inception, the State of Israel has been a social democracy and, for decades, the American Jewish community has supported both the Jewish state as well as the Democrat Party.  Noteworthy is the fact that 78% of American Jews voted for Barack Obama in 2008 and, as reported by JTA, 69-70% did the same in 2012.

Yes, that’s down approximately 10%.  But, still, a pretty substantial majority.

Why do so many American Jews support President Obama whose support for the State of Israel during his first term was tepid, at best?  Perhaps the majority of the American Jewish community is prepared to support Israel as long as none of them has to pay the ultimate price.

"Now you listen here, Bibi."

“Now you listen to me, Bibi.”

Then, too, many in the U.S. Catholic community have for decades supported the Jewish state as well as the Democrat Party.  Like the American Jewish community, 51% of Catholics favored the President in 2012 while 54% favored then-candidate Obama in 2008.  Not as substantial a majority, but substantial enough.

Yet, among those on the American catholic left, support for the Jewish state has been declining during the past two decades, shifting to the Palestinians.  Citing so-called “human rights abuses” by successive Israeli governments, many on the American catholic left have been promoting Yasser Arafat as the poster boy for freedom fighters across the globe.

Interestingly, this pro-Palestinian bent in the American catholic left increased during the closing decades of the Cold War when the United States supported Israel and the then-Soviet Union supported the anti-Israel, Arabic world.  It culminated in  the “Arab Spring,” as many of the American catholic left supported this so-called “pro-democracy movement.”  In Egypt, Hosni Mubarak was driven from office and made the poster boy of all brutal dictators.  Many on the American catholic left rejoiced in his departure from the scene.

Second: some perspective.

With a democratically elected, constitutional, radical Muslim regime soon to be ruling Egypt, those on the American catholic left who supported the Arab Spring and the overthrow of Hosni Mubarak will find themselves stuck between a rock and a hard place.  This new regime is likely to end up being even more unjust and violent than Mubarak’s.

How so?  Just check out what’s been transpiring in places where radical Muslims are in control and backed by Sharia law, places like Iran and Nigeria.  Pope Benedict XVI cited the latter in his 2012 “Urbi et Orbi,” calling for “concord in Nigeria” where “savage acts of terrorism [by the militant Muslim Jihadist group Boko Haram] continue to reap victims, particularly among Christians.”

A Catholic Church destroyed by the militant Muslim Jihadist group Boko Haram

A Catholic Church that was bombed by the radical Muslim group Boko Haram

Will these facts matter to the American catholic left?

Probably not.

After all, the American catholic left was pretty much silent when it came to President Obama’s nifty little war (aka, “Overseas Contingency Operation”) in Libya.  Then, too, they have been pretty much silent about the injustices being perpetrated by radical Muslims in Africa.

Third: prayer.

Sadly for those who have been suffering these horrific injustices for the better part of the past decade, what the American catholic left prioritized during those year are the U.N.’s Millennium Development Goals, for which an American catholic left social justice group—the Center of Concern—published a special prayer:

Prayer for the Millennium Goals:

In a world where so many go hungry,
Let us make the fruits of Creation
available for all.
In a world where one billion of our brothers and sisters
do not have safe drinking water,
Let us help the waters run clear.
In a world where so many children
die so young,
And so many mothers die in childbirth,
And so many families
are ravaged by disease,
Let us bring health and healing.
In a world where women carry
such heavy burdens,
Let us recognize and restore
the rights of all.  (by Jane Deren)

Noble humanistic concerns, but far short of the mark during a period when Catholics  are being brutally terrorized and murdered by radical Muslims under the disguise of democratic reforms.

In seeking to right the injustices caused by man’s inhumanity against man, what Catholics and all people of good will should be concerned with is true and abiding peace which is pure grace, God’s gift to mankind.  This grace should be the focus of prayer this 2013 World Day of Prayer for Peace.



To access the American Jewish community’s voting record, click on the following link:

To access the Catholic vote in 2012 and 2008, click on the following links:

To read the text of Pope Benedict’s “Urbi et Orbi,” click on the following link:

To learn more about the Center of Concern, click on the following link:

To learn more about Catholic social justice, check out “Education for Justice” at the Center of  Concern:




And the winner is…


In most matters “of this world,” it’s all about “winners and losers.”  “Winners” are lauded and celebrated.  At best, “losers” are lamented and, at worst, forgotten.

Consider the state of religion in the United Kingdom.

When it comes to the battle of faith in the British Isles, the Anglican Communion is surely a big-time loser.

But, if the Anglican Communion is losing, who’s winning?

Yes, indeed, it’s the Jedi Knights!

The Jedi’s “Star Wars Credo” is on the rise…making it the seventh most popular religion on the British Isles.

According to an article in The Telegraph, the 2011 census indicates that 176, 632 citizens of England and Wales self-identified as Jedi Knights.  The Jedi now constitute 0.31% of all people’s stated religious affiliation in England and Wales.  Excluding non-religious people and those who did not answer, only Christianity (in aggregate), Islam, Hinduism, Sikhism, Judaism, and Buddhism rank higher.

However, it looks like even the Jedi’s are losers, too.  In the 2001 census, 390,127 people self-identified as followers of the fiction.  That’s a 54% decline in only one decade.

One potential future winner may be the religion of Heavy Metal.  The 2011 census indicates that 6,242 people on the British Isles subscribe to its credo, roughly 21% of the total number of people self-identifying as Atheists.  Then, too, it may be those who checked the “No Religion” box will end up being the really big winners in the future.  13.8 million citizens of the British Isles professed no credo in 2011.

Jedi’s.  Heavy Metal.  Atheists.  Agnostics.  “Religions” of this world.

Jesus said: “Heaven and earth shall pass away: but my words shall not pass away” (Mark 13:31).

Now, there’s the all-time winner because his words are not of this world.



To read the article in The Telegraph, click on the following link:


The drama of the sexennials at St. Louis University continues…


For the past several months, the embers of an ugly confrontation involving the faculty, administration, and Board of Trustees have been smoldering at St. Louis University (SLU).

The first act in this drama unfolded when an administrator proposed that all tenured professors would undergo a sexennial review.  For the administrator, the proposal’s merit was that tenured professors would continue demonstrating satisfactory achievement in the conduct of their teaching, research, and service responsibilities.  (Read: “Tenured professors can be dismissed for unsatisfactory work.”)  For SLU’s tenured faculty, the proposal’s drawback was its administrative merit.  (Read: “Short of misconduct, there’s no way in Hell the administration will dismiss tenured faculty.”)

The first act in the drama came to a close in October when members of SLU’s Faculty Council of the College of Arts and Sciences cast a 35-2 vote of no confidence against SLU’s President, the Reverend  Lawrence Biondi, SJ, for not firing the administrator who floated the proposal.  The vote upped the ante, getting the SLU Board of Trustees involved.

The second act has been unfolding behind the scenes since October, with the SLU Board of Trustees’ President, Thomas H. Brouster, attempting to tamp down the embers.  According to the St. Louis Post Dispatch, a truce between the administration and faculty was imminent.

But, a letter Brouster wrote was leaked to the press:


Who disseminated the letter has not been disclosed, but it was posted to a Facebook page entitled “SLU Students for No Confidence.”  The post represents a third call for Fr. Biondi’s removal, lending support to two “no confidence” votes earlier this fall by the Arts and Sciences Faculty Senate and the Student Government Association.

Since St. Louis University is a Catholic university sponsored by the Society of Jesus, a couple of items that merit consideration:

  • The notion of tenure at a Catholic university.  Tenure was invented to protect professorial academic freedom, that is, “the ability to pursue the truth wherever the facts may lead.”  However, the term now connotes “a guaranteed job for life, short of professional misconduct.”  The former protects professors from interference in the conduct of their profession by outsiders.  The latter immunizes professors from interference by outsiders no matter what professors may do, short of professional misconduct.  The SLU administrator understands this “difference with a distinction,” as does the SLU faculty, and ostensibly wants to do something to redress the balance so that tenured professors who fail to fulfill their professional obligations can be liable for dismissal.
  • The laicization of Boards at the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges.  Since the 1960s, Boards have been dominated by the laity.  In many cases, these women and men have proven themselves to be successful professionals and as Board members, have fulfilled their primary responsibilities (what’s called the “3 G’s,” namely, “to give, to get, or to get off”).  At the same time, the worldview of many of these Board members has been shaped by their professional experience and they tend to evaluate and resolve problems by imposing what they’ve learned from that experience upon the institution.

At SLU, these two items coalesced as the Trustees’ President hunkered down by hiring a St. Louis-based public relations firm, Fleishman-Hillard , to direct a Board Task Force in “crisis management.”

All of this raises three questions:

  • Are differences between factions within these institutions—where the unfettered search for truth is supposed to be paramount—best resolved by “calling for the head” of an administrator who proposes a perfectly reasonable policy as well as the head of that administrator’s boss?  Some much for unfettered discourse!  “Give us Barabbas,” the frenzied crowd shrieked.
  • Should the award of tenure immunize professors from interference by outsiders—in this case, administrators—no matter what professors may do, short of professional misconduct?   In the professional world, “a fair day’s pay” is earned by “a fair day’s work.”  Continuing to pay underperforming, substandard employees is no way to “run a business.”  For a professional academic to deny this fact is conduct unbecoming a professional academic.  Worse yet is the professional academic who aids, abets, and protects colleagues who, in their classrooms, state as fact what are personal opinions and tolerate no discussion concerning the merits of contrary opinions.
  • While hiring p.r. experts to manage crises represents “best practice” in the corporate and political world, should it be normative when differences between various entities—like Boards, administrators, faculty, and students—arise at the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges?  Hiring expensive experts in public relations to deal with fissures within a collegiate community isn’t so much about educating its members as it is of “tamping down and putting out fires.”  Perhaps that’s appropriate for private sector “management vs. labor” negotiations, but for a Catholic institution of higher education?

Perhaps what’s unfolding at SLU is part of a larger narrative in U.S. Catholic higher education: Its professionalization and secularization where the values of this world increasingly inform and shape institutional decision making, policies, and procedures.

So much for Ex corde ecclesiae.



To read The Motley Monk’s original post about this drama, click on the following link:

To access the Board of Trustees’ President’s letter online, click on the following link:

To read the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, click on the following link…


Catholic hospitals (and politicians?) being put “on notice”…


With the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) having been called to task by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF), it may not be long before organizations sponsoring the nation’s Catholic hospitals will be called to task by the Pontifical Council for Health Care (PCHC).


According to one member of the PCHC, Jose Maria Simon Castellvi, it’s to preserve the identity of Catholic hospitals.  In many nations across the globe, this identity is being threatened as decisions at the local level are being made—using the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity—that undermine Church teaching.

St. Joseph’s Hospital
operating in the Diocese of Phoenix, Arizona


The first step will be taken when PCHC releases its updated Charter for Health Care Workers on June 16, 2013, the “Dignity of Life Day” during the Year of Faith, following CDF review and approval.  It’s that review and approval that should be neither overlooked nor underestimated.

The current Charter’s directives are divided into three categories: procreation, life, and death.  The revised Charter is said to discuss Church teaching as it concerns bioethics, healthcare coverage, and “orphan drugs” (providing affordable pharmaceutical treatments even though the market for the drugs is too small to make research, production, and distribution economically viable or profitable).

More importantly, the updated Charter will include a fourth section, “the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity.”

It’s this fourth category—the second step—that organizations sponsoring the nation’s Catholic hospitals and some professionals working in them will find challenging.  While the principles of solidarity and subsidiarity advocate that decisions be made and action taken at the lowest possible level, a Catholic News Agency article is reporting that some employees at Catholic hospitals have taken that definition to mean that providing abortafacients, sterilizations, and abortions is permissible as is genetic experimentation and embryo selection for eugenics.

But, don’t miss what’s also in the document by focusing solely upon how some employees of Catholic hospitals across the globe are undermining their institution’s identity.


The updated Charter is said also to include CDF notes and instructions regarding the participation of Catholics in political life, published in 2003.  This document states that while Catholics are free to choose among political parties and strategies for promoting the common good, they cannot claim that freedom allows them to support abortion, euthanasia, or other attacks on human life.

Could it possibly be that CDF is going to use PCHC to fire a first salvo at  certain Catholic politicians?

If so, the inclusion of those  CDF notes and instructions is putting those Catholic politicians on notice that they no longer will be able to promote their support of  anti-life policies by claiming that the Church’s principles of solidarity and subsidiarity support their policy positions.




To read the articles, click on the following links:




Whatever became of “communio”?


Communio” (def.) the organic life of the Church where the diversity of gifts—like the various parts of the body—work together in complementary ways to usher in God’s reign.

St. Paul described communio using these words:

As a body is one though it has many parts, and all the parts of the body, though many, are one body, so also Christ. (1 Corinthians 12:12)

Was this idyllic image not one of the primary images used by Second Vatican Council  to describe the Church and its organic life?


  • Neither “liberals” nor “conservatives.”
  • Neither “ultra-liberals” nor “ultra-conservatives.”
  • Neither “Tridentine” nor “post-Vatican II.”

Only the one People of God consisting of the Body of Christ and their gifts—diverse as they are—alive and at work with one another “transforming all things in Christ Jesus.”

After five decades, however, it appears that communio is out and hunkering down is in, at least according to the Reverend Richard McBrien who holds the Crowley-O’Brien Professor of Theology Chair and is now hunkering down at the University of Notre Dame.  The  nation’s Catholic universities and colleges, Fr. McBrien observes,  are places “where the long arms of a bishop cannot reach.”

Not all bishops, mind you.  Just those “ultra-conservatives”—the Blessed John Paul II and Benedict XVI appointees in the United States.

Unfortunately, it’s some ideological progressives who have made communio impossible. Following Vatican II, these progressives didn’t want, nor do they want, nor they never will want any conservative (forget the ultra-conservatives) intruding into their safe zone.

What these ideological progressives have always feared  most is any conservative bishop—not just an ultra-conservative—having the audacity to challenge the their magisterium on what they have made their home turf.

That said, Fr. McBrien’s article in the National Catholic Reporter may provide an indication of a far more profound change: The pendulum is changing directions, potentially threatening the protections afforded Fr. McBrien and those ideological progressives for nearly five decades.

Yes, those new conservative prelates are emphasizing fidelity to Church teaching.  That alone seems to be scaring the bejeezus out of Fr. McBrien and ideological progressives.

A formerly compliant national hierarchy—whose members generally allowed those progressives free reign to redefine Church teaching in their image and likeness—is becoming increasingly less compliant.  Its members may even possess sufficient backbone at some point in the near future to extend their long arm into those institutions and hold the ideological progressives—like Fr. McBrien—accountable for their doctrinal errors…in exactly the same way the nuns are now being held accountable for their doctrinal errors.

Of course, Fr. McBrien’s hope is that Benedict XVI’s successor will adopt McBrien’s progressive vision for the Church and will undo the “terrible backlash” visited on the U.S. Church by those ultra-conservative appointees who “overemphasize the abortion issue” over “social justice.”

Short of that, what’s next?  “Ideologically progressive professors at Catholic universities and colleges on the bus?”

The “signs of the times” indicate that something more may be transpiring than just the pendulum shifting direction: Communio with the Bishop of Rome is in.

The week after the NCR published Fr. McBrien’s article, the Apostolic Nuncio to the United States, Carlo Maria Viganò, extended his long arm into the matter.

According to the Catholic News Agency, Archbishop Viganò told an audience at the University of Notre Dame that it is a “grave and major problem” when self-professed Catholic faculty at Catholic institutions are the sources of teachings that conflict with Church teaching on important policy issues rather than defend it.  Professors at these institutions who do so, the Archbishop noted, are “allying with those forces that are pitted against the Church.  These institutions hold themselves out to be “Catholic.”  But, he observed:

This, my brothers and sisters, is a grave and major problem that challenges the first freedom of religious liberty and the higher purpose of the human person.

Maybe the signs of the times are signaling that time is running out for the ideological progressives and their project to deconstruct Catholic higher education.  And Fr. McBrien is worried about it.



To read the NCR article, click on the following link:

To read the CNA article, click on the following link:


When a Letter of Congratulations Contains a Warning. . .

The Metropolitan of Volokolamsk, Chairman of the Department of External Church Relations for the Russian Orthodox Church, and a permanent member of the Holy Synod of the Patriarchate of Moscow, Bishop Hilarion of Volokolamsk, has written a letter of congratulations to Right Reverend Justin Welby, Bishop of Durham and nominee as Archbishop of Canterbury.

Metropolitan of Volokolamsk

Consider its contents:

Dear Brother and Lord Bishop,


I would like to extend to you wholehearted congratulations on your election as Head of one of the oldest episcopal chairs founded by St. Augustine of Canterbury in the 7th century.


You have been entrusted with the spiritual guidance of the entire Anglican Communion, a unique union of like-minded people, which, however diverse the forms of its existence in the world may be, needs one ‘steward of God’ (Tit. 1:7) the guardian of the faith and witness to the Truth (cf. Jn. 18:37).


The Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion are bonded by age-old friendly relations initiated in the 15th century. For centuries, our Churches would preserve good and truly brotherly relations encouraged both by frequent mutual visits and established theological dialogue and certainly by a spirit of respect and love which used to accompany the meetings of our hierarchs, clergy and ordinary believers.


Regrettably, the late 20th century and the beginning of the third millennium have brought tangible difficulties in relations between the Russian Orthodox Church and the Churches of the Anglican Communion. The introduction female priesthood and now episcopate, the blessing of same-sex ‘unions’ and ‘marriages’, the ordination of homosexuals as pastors and bishops – all these innovations are seen by the Orthodox as deviations from the tradition of the Early Church, which increasingly estrange Anglicanism from the Orthodox Church and contribute to a further division of Christendom as a whole.


We hope that the voice of the Orthodox Church will be heard by the Church of England and Churches of the Anglican Communion, and good fraternal relationships between us will revive.


I wish you God’s help in your important work.


“May the God of love and peace be with you” (2 Cor. 13:11).


+Metropolitan Hilarion of Volokolamsk

“Congratulations” might not be the best word to describe the entire contents of Bishop Hilarion’s letter.

“Innovations,” “deviations,” “increasingly estrange,” “further contribute to a further division of Christendom,” and “good fraternal relationships between us will revive” sound more like a “warning” to the new Archbishop of Canterbury: His denomination is falling off a moral cliff.

Bishop Hilarion doesn’t mince his words when it comes to the orthodox Christian faith, does he?

Imagine what the National Catholic Reporter would have to say if the USCCB or a U.S. metropolitan archbishop sent  the new Archbishop of Canterbury a similar letter of congratulations!


“Colluding in the Sovietization of Catholic intellectual life”?

The narrative isn’t anything new.

A Catholic university or college invites a “leading Catholic theologian” to give a talk or to function as a visiting professor.  Individuals and groups from outside the institution perform a background check, uncovering facts about this theologian’s public opinions that dissent from Church teaching.  Those outsiders publicize the invitation and facts, asking “Why is this Catholic university or college inviting this person?”  Unable to defend the invitation in the face of the controversy stirred up by those outsiders, the institution’s president “disinvites” the theologian.

In response, the theologian runs to the left-of-center Catholic press.  Berating the institution for capitulating to that tiny minority who seek to silence “free discussion” about Church teaching, the theologian asserts that even worse yet is how this bullying represents a mortal threat to academic freedom in Catholic higher education.  Then, too, there’s the omnipresent Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).  How long before it steps in to quash discussion by labeling the Church’s “thinkers” as “heretics”?

Continue Reading


Xavier University’s “moderate” approach to healthcare coverage: A breach in the firewall?


In this election cycle, much has been made about the importance of establishing a “firewall” in certain states so that a candidate’s electoral college numbers don’t collapse.

When it comes to defending the faith against insurgents, one might hope the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges would provide the Church a “firewall of firewalls.”  After all, haven’t they proclaimed themselves to be the places “where the Church does its thinking”?  Where better to turn for a reasoned defense of the Church and its teaching than through its institutions of higher education?

Of course, as the pundits have been opining, it takes only one breach of the firewall to accelerate the process of potentially losing that firewall and, hence, increasing the probability of losing the election…or, in this instance, weakening one institution’s Catholic identity and providing “cover” for others to do the same.

Has that firewall wall been breached?

According to Inside Higher Education, the President of Xavier University in Cincinnati, the Reverend Michael J. Graham, SJ, has reversed himself.  This “Catholic university in the Jesuit tradition” will now continue to provide employees artificial contraception coverage as part of the institution’s healthcare coverage.


The Reverend Michael J. Graham, SJ
President, Xavier University (Cincinnati, OH)


Last April, Fr. Graham announced that Xavier had been covering contraception but no longer would, effective July 1, 2012.  In a letter to employees, Graham wrote that offering such coverage was “inconsistent” for a Roman Catholic institution.

Correct!  That’s defending the firewall.

However, that was then and this is now.

Between then and now, Fr. Graham’s decision and letter provoked an outcry.  A number of Xavier University faculty and staff wanted to know who Fr. Graham or the institution were to dictate so-called “healthcare options” to married couples, to non-Catholics, and to those who don’t agree with Church teaching concerning artificial means of birth control.  After all, that’s not being inclusive, is it?  Then, too, they wanted Fr. Graham to explain why he made the decision and issued his letter without consulting Xavier employees first.  That’s not very collegial, is it?

In the face of this tide of opposition, Fr. Graham agreed to postpone implementing the change until December.  Perhaps Fr. Graham was biding his time while waiting for the U.S. Supreme Court to rule.

But, once again, that was then and this is now.

Between then and now, the Supreme Court ruled in June, upholding Obamacare.  The opinion was written by the Chief Justice, himself a Catholic.  Talk about being provided intellectual and legal cover to allow the firewall to be breached!

Fr. Graham subsequently decided that since Xavier University would be required to provide contraceptive coverage as part of the institution’s healthcare coverage beginning August 1, 2013 anyway, the University would continue providing it to employees.

No doubt about it.  The firewall has been breached!

In an interview with the Cincinnati Enquirer, Fr. Graham blamed himself for how he handled this issue. But, he went even further.  While strongly disagreeing with the Obamacare mandate, Fr. Graham said he “believes universities should set a moderate example for the nation.”

The president of one of those institutions where the Church is supposed to do her thinking has decided his institution should “set a moderate example for the nation”?

Why so?

Could the rationale be that Church teaching tramples upon the religious freedom of those who freely choose to work at Catholic institutions, like Xavier University, yet don’t believe what those institutions represent?  Then, too, borrowing from the example of St. Isaac Jogues, SJ, and his companions, why alienate all of those people when, simply by leaving the door open to them, they can be evangelized?  And what will it matter anyway?  After all, providing artificial means of contraception as part of nationalized healthcare coverage is going to be required of those institutions come August 1, 2013.

The rationale is problematic and the firewall has been breached.  How long will it be before presidents of the other U.S. Catholic universities and colleges seize upon Fr. Graham’s reasoning and follow Xavier University’s lead?

This battle is not about “healthcare options.”  It’s all about the much larger war to delegitimize Church teaching.

Where’s the reasoned defense to come from, now that this firewall has been breached?



To read the Inside Higher Education article, click on the following link: http://www.insidehighered.com/news/2012/10/29/catholic-college-reverses-course-covering-contraception#ixzz2AhJ4Ca00


Intolerant tolerance…


While on this side of the pond the nation’s bishops are waging battle against the government’s incursions upon religious freedom, an interesting battle is unfolding on the other side of the pond in Great Britain.

It seems that Susanne and Mike Wilkinson who own Uf Dorf Wilkinson—a Swiss country B&B located in Cookham, Berkshire, which also serves as the couple’s home—believe the precepts of their Christian faith trump the law of the land.  In this instance, that precept concerns the sanctity of marriage and the law is the Britain’s Equality Act Regulations of 2007, which outlaw discrimination on the grounds of sexual orientation when providing goods, facilities, services, education, and other public functions.

The Swiss Bed & Breakfast property in Cookham, owned by Mr & Mrs Wilkinson, caught up in the discrimination row


According to the UK Daily Mail, Mrs. Wilkinson told Michael Black and his partner John Morgan in March 2010 that they couldn’t sleep in a double bed at Uf Dorf.  That allegedly “discriminatory” judgment led to a lawsuit that Black and Morgan have won, with the judge requiring Mrs. Wilkinson to pay Black and Morgan £3,600 in compensatory damages on the grounds of “hurt feelings.”

Responding to the judgment, Mrs. Wilkinson to the Daily Mail:

Naturally, my husband and I are disappointed to have lost the case and to have been ordered to pay £3,600 in damages for injury to feelings. We have the option to appeal, and we will give that serious consideration.

We believe a person should be free to act upon their sincere beliefs about marriage under their own roof without living in fear of the law. Equality laws have gone too far when they start to intrude into a family home.

People’s beliefs about marriage are coming under increasing attack, and I am concerned about people’s freedom to speak and act upon these beliefs. I am a Christian, not just on a Sunday in church, but in every area of my life – as Jesus expects from his followers.

That’s all I was trying to do and I think it’s quite wrong to punish me for that, especially after enduring over two years of vile abuse and threats.


In court, Mrs. Wilkinson explained to the judge that she was serious about her Christian beliefs regarding the sanctity of marriage and wasn’t discriminating because Black and Morgan are homosexual.  Mrs. Wilkinson explained that she also doesn’t allow unmarried heterosexual couples to share a double bed at Uf Dorf.

That would make Mrs. Wilkinson consistent in her intolerance or, put in another way, consistent in bringing her faith into her workplace.

Mrs. Wilkinson put her finger squarely on the truth when she observed: “We find this a strange justice in a society that aspires to be increasingly tolerant.”

In the UK, it may very well be the case that the principle of “tolerance” doesn’t extent to being tolerant of traditional Christian teaching about the sanctity of marriage.

Is this a “coming attraction” of what’s soon to transpire in the United States?




To read the UK Daily Mail article, click on the following link:



Former Catholic Priests Come Out for “Homosexual Marriage”

With a Public Religion Research Institute poll indicating that 59% of Catholics nationwide support so-called “homosexual marriage” (52% of the general public supports the

notion), it shouldn’t prove surprising that the State of Washington’s Democrat-controlled legislature voted to legalize homosexual marriage earlier this year and the state’s Democrat-Catholic Governor, Christine Gregoire, quickly signed the measure into law.

Politically, it’s a “no brainer”!  After all, even the majority of Catholics apparently support the notion.

However, opponents organized to submit a petition to bring the law to voters in November, thus blocking the law’s implementation until after the referendum takes place.

According to the Associated Press, a group of 63 former Catholic priests whose members back homosexual marriage in the State of Washington responded with a political jujutzu.  The group challenged the state’s Catholic bishops who had lobbied against the law’s implementation, contending  that the bishops’ efforts to defeat the law represented a threat to religious liberty.  The former Catholic priests wrote in a statement:

We feel the bishops are abusing their power in attempting to direct Catholics on how to vote on this civil matter and impose their position on all citizens, Catholic and non-Catholic. (italics added)

The petition’s organization, Patrick Callahan, who was a Catholic priest for 15 years and  continues to attend Catholic church, told Reuters:

Progressive-thinking Catholics need the reassurance that there is more than one authentic Catholic position. (italics added)

“Need the reassurance” that there’s more than one authentic Catholic position?

Did anyone teach these ex-priests logic when they were seminarians?

How can there be more than one authentic Catholic position?

Of course it’s not possible.

This isn’t about reassurance.  It’s not about being logical.  And it’s really not about Church teaching.

It’s all about how those 63 former Catholic priests “feel.”  And that’s what they believe  the foundation of Catholic teaching should rest upon.

Feeling not the Rock. 


To read the Associated Press report:


Sexennials at St. Louis University…


Formerly when a professor was granted tenure, it meant that this individual enjoyed “a lifetime, permanent appointment to conduct research, teach, and provide service.”  Tenure was intended to protect academic freedom, so that faculty could pursue the truth with impunity, wherever the facts led.  Tenure did so by making it extremely difficult for administrators to remove a professor, short of personal and/or professional misconduct.


However, if the Vice President for Academic Affairs (VPAA) at St. Louis University (SLU), Manoj Patankar, has his way, every tenured professor will undergo a sexennial review.  In essence, this will require SLU’s tenured professors to demonstrate anew what they had demonstrated prior to being granted tenure.

When Patankar floated the policy proposal this past summer, the critics responded immediately.  According to the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the critics maintained  the policy “would harm the university’s ability to hire and retain quality faculty.”

The critics’ response was to be expected and there’s some merit to it.

Why would a professor ever come to SLU to earn tenure and then have to undergo post-tenure reviews—and the potential for non-renewal—if her work doesn’t “measure up” to some future standard of judgment?  That professor could select another university, earn tenure, and once it’s earned, that’s it.  Finito.  No more reviews.

Based on this criterion alone, the “best and brightest” likely wouldn’t choose SLU.

The critics eventually prevailed.  VPAA Patankar withdrew his proposal in September.

That wasn’t enough for the critics, however.

The Faculty Council of the College of Arts and Sciences and SLU’s Faculty Senate proceeded to pass  two overwhelming no confidence votes, in effect demanding that SLU’s President, the Reverend Lawrence Biondi, SJ, fire Patankar.

Yet, despite those votes, Biondi backed his VPAA.

That was also completely unacceptable to members of SLU’s Faculty Council of the College of Arts and Sciences.  Last Thursday they cast a 35-2 vote of no confidence against President Biondi.  This was the first no confidence vote ever passed against SLU’s President.
A  faculty leader of this no-confidence effort, professor of political science, Timothy Lomperis, said:
[SLU] has now become a place of tyranny.  If we don’t take a vote today, this will be interpreted by the administration as a defeat and the momentum will be lost.


That sentiment smacks of radicalism, pitting the faculty against the administration rather than engaging  in authentic dialogue that’s aimed at resolving differences.

There’s a more sober assessment of Patankar’s policy proposal.

Without doubt, tenure can lull a professor into lethargy.  Once granted, the motive to perform at a high level would have to be intrinsic not extrinsic and, it may very well be that the overall quality of work declines after tenure.  Perhaps not immediately, but over the years and decades, and inevitably for many professors.

The downside of tenure, then, is that some (and perhaps many) tenured professors will sit back, relax, enjoy life, and collect a good salary and benefits as well.  Where that’s the case, students don’t receive the education they deserve and the overall quality of the faculty declines.

It could be argued that Patankar was seeking to hold tenured professors more accountable.  His policy would provide a bit of extrinsic motivation for tenured faculty who aren’t intrinsically motivated to demonstrate ongoing achievement every six years.

Patankar’s proposal raised a legitimate policy point that SLU administrators and faculty should debate and resolve.  However, the rhetoric of professors like Timothy Lomperis indicates that what they really desire is confrontation.  They want  to force administrators to knuckle under to their demands, not to engage in a robust and public debate where the merits of counter arguments are carefully weighed, assessed, and a decision is made.

If it ends up that SLU administrators backtrack and don’t engage faculty leaders in debating the issue, it is likely that the number of battles over tenure at the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges—pitting faculty against administration—will increase in a short time.

But not about the issue Patankar is attempting to resolve.

No, these battles won’t be over sexennial post-tenure evaluations to rid the faculty of non-performers.  That will be the  “presenting issue.”  Belying the rhetoric are professors who desperately want tenure to continue insulating them from any possible intrusions on their freedom to express political, social, and moral views without rebuttal and, in particular, views at variance with Catholic teaching.

It may well be the case that these “tenured radicals” don’t want administrators implementing any policy that might silence their voices inside U.S. Catholic higher education.



To read the St. Louis Post-Dispatch article, click on the following link…


Coming soon to the USA…the latest in ecclesiastical raiment…


The Telegraph is reporting a thoroughly modernizing event nicknamed “The Ideal Church Show.”  It’s part of a  two-day confab, the Christian Resources Exhibition, an annual church suppliers convention.

More important than the  church lighting displays, the  parish computer systems, and coffins is the “Righteous Runway”.  It features models (seven of whom are ministers)—called “Clergy on the Catwalk—revealing the latest in haute couture for ministers designed by Juliet Hemingray, Hayes and Finch, Cross Designs and J&M Sewing.

Anticipating the event, the  Bishop of Middleton, the Right Reverend  Mark Davies, said:

It will be interesting to see the variety of clergy robes produced by contemporary designers.

The church has modernised so much in the past 20 years and what clergy wear reflects that change.

Gone are the 50 shades of grey and in has come a spectrum of colour and design which can be seen in everything from a Church of England royal wedding to the humblest Christening in one of our smaller churches.

To wit:

More teal vicar? Colourful clergy show off new robes on catwalk


One of the ministers participating in the event, Taffy Davies of Macclesfield, said:

I have always longed to be a model cleric but I guess I’ll just have to settle for being a clerical model.


According to the Telegraph, it’s expected that the new ecclesiastical raiment will communicate that the traditional, stodgy Anglican church is modernizing and will be effective in attracting “younger audiences.”



Dropping all insurance coverage appears to be the most morally sound approach…


Founded in 1972, the National Catholic Bioethics Center  (NCBC) “pledges its fidelity to the magisterial teaching of the Church and to the bishops who provide leadership and pastoral guidance to clergy and laity on complex bioethical issues.”

NCBC recently has published a detailed analysis which concludes that it would be immoral for a Catholic who owns a private business to purchase health insurance for his or her workers under Obamacare.   The conclusion is terse: “Dropping all coverage appears to be the most morally sound approach.”

Assessing all of the options available, the NCBC also calls for action, including suing the Obama administration: “We support and encourage the many lawsuits challenging this injustice and expect them to be successful before the Supreme Court.”

The NCBC’s excellent analysis raises some politically difficult choices for faithful Catholic business owners. If they choose to drop insurance coverage, it is likely their employees will be forced by circumstances—fully intended by those who crafted Obamacare—into healthcare plans offering medical services that are contrary to Church teaching.  While those employees would not be forced to avail themselves of those morally objectionable services, the simple fact remains that those services would be funded by taxpayer money, meaning in this instance the taxes paid by those businesses owned and operated by faithful Catholics.

Is this not an infringement on religious liberty?


To read the NCBC analysis, click on the following link:


A preview of what’s to come in U.S. jurisprudence?


It isn’t often that The Motley Monk finds himself agreen with an Archbishop of Canterbury.  But, in this instance, the former and 103rd Archbishop of Canterbury, George Carey, hit the nail on the head when he challenged the “reigning orthodoxy of diversity and equality.”


This orthodoxy allows for neither diversity nor equality.

According to the BBC News, four British Christians were discriminated against in the workplace because of their Christian values.

The cases aren’t new, going back seven years:

  • Two lost their jobs because they believe that homosexual relationships are contrary to God’s law.  In addition, they believe that homosexual relationships are incompatible with their religion and it’s immoral to do anything that condones homosexuality.  One, a registrar, objected to officiating at civil partnership ceremonies between homosexuals.  The other, a therapist, did not wish to provide counselling to homosexual couples.
  • The other two, one worked for British Airways and the other was a nurse, wore necklaces with crosses at work.  Both lost their jobs, they believe, because of wearing those necklaces.

In what is nothing other than hypocritical reasoning, British employment tribunals and the British Supreme Court ruled against the four.

Why hypocritical?

In Britain—where there is an “Equality Law”—no workplace restrictions are placed upon other religious symbols, including the Sikh turban or the Muslim hijab.

According to AFP, Carey thought the four should “have earned widespread respect” for their witness.  Now, their cases have prompted him to “question whether…faith is a bar to public service.”  He added:

In the past, there was space for negotiation between individuals and their employers, but the burden of ever-increasing regulation has meant that questions of conscience and freedom are neglected in favour of conformity.

The lawyer representing the UK government, James Eadie, argued that expressions of belief “were not absolute rights, or rights without limits.”  He added:

Employers cannot be forced to accommodate (the) religious beliefs of employees who do not wish to provide services to the public or a section of a public.

Carey called the four the “new heretics,” adding:

Indeed, it seems the secular equivalent of the Inquisition will brook no dissent from the reigning orthodoxy of diversity and equality.

The Motley Monk is wondering if this is a preview of what’s soon to come in U.S. jurisprudence?



To read the BBC News article, click on the following link:

To read the AFP article, click on the following link:


Collegians unite: Occupy Chick-fil-A…


As The Motley Monk predicted back in February, it wouldn’t be all that long before the anti-Chick-fil-A forces (aka, “Occupy Chick-fil-A”) would amass on the nation’s college campuses and throw tantrums.  Their goal would be to force weak-willed administrators to cower to Occupy Chick-fil-A and its members’ demands that they remove the fast food chain from their campuses because of the company’s bigoted, non-inclusive, and anti-homosexual policies.

It doesn’t matter whether the allegations are true or not.  What does matter for Occupy Chick-fil-A members is that they feel the company is all of those things…and more.

It was at Northeastern University where Occupy Chick-fil-A leader bleated in delight:

I’m very excited and really, really surprised this is the decision [the NU’s  administration] came to. We didn’t expect them to cut the contract with  Chick-fil-A.

As the new academic year is set to unfold, Occupy Chick-fil-A forces are amassing at the University of Maryland, agitating for the institution to close its owner-operated store.  According to the the Baltimore Sun, Occupy Chick-fil-A forces have posted an online petition demanding that the University shut down its store in the Stamp Student Union Building.


Dan Cathy
Chick-fil-A President


When asked in an interview with the Baptist Press about reports that the Chick-fil-A corporation is opposed to homosexual marriage, the President of Chick-fil-A, Dan Cathy, responded, “Well, guilty as charged.”  He added:

We are very much supportive of the family—the biblical definition of the family unit…We intend to stay the course. We know that it might not be popular with everyone, but thank the Lord, we live in a country where we can share our values and operate on biblical principles.


Feeling outrage upon hearing of Cathy’s remarks, Occupy Chick-fil-A forces at the University of Maryland are demanding a “more accepting” option, the Baltimore Sun article states.

As one who enjoys Chick-fil-A’s products and tried to participate in Chick-fil-A Appreciation Day but couldn’t get near the local owner-operated store, The Motley Monk would have thought Occupy Chick-fil-A forces would be more upset that the fast food chain’s on-campus stores are closed on the Sabbath.


What Sabbath?



To read about Northeastern University’s decision to drop Chick-fil-A:

To read the Baltimore Sun article, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


Stripping Catholic universities and colleges of their “Catholic” identity: Is it “forfeiting a valuable resource”?


When the Vatican recently informed officials of the Pontifical Catholic University of Peru (PCUP) that the institution could no longer be called either “Pontifical” or “Catholic,” many wondered whether this action was a “signal” intended to get other Catholic universities and colleges in line soon or face similar consequences.

For those who would hope that the edict is a signal, the Vatican didn’t issue the edict precipitously.  Decades of listening and discussing the issues proved fruitless.  In the end, the Vatican acted decisively, leaving the door open to reconciliation on the Vatican’s terms.



In the weeks following the announcement, many observers of U.S. Catholic higher education who would hope that the edict is a signal have mused about whether and what it would take for the Vatican to strip an institution’s status as a Catholic university or college.

What interests The Motley Monk isn’t all of that speculation, but the fear expressed by some of those observers about the consequences—the fall out—of the Vatican decision to strip one institution of its status as Pontifical and Catholic.

For example, of those U.S. Catholic universities and colleges that appear to be “Catholic in Name Only,” the editor of Catholic World News, Phil Lawler, recently wrote:

We could easily supply a long list of colleges and universities that should no longer be allowed to parade as “Catholic” institutions—if only for the sake of truth in advertising.  But before indulging that daydream too long, stop and consider the possible consequences.  If a bishop were to take the bold step of declaring that, say, Georgetown (or Boston College or Fordham or Loyola—take your pick) is no longer a Catholic institution, would the Church be forfeiting a valuable resource?

At one time all these universities were genuinely Catholic. Built up by the contributions of loyal Catholics, they nourished generations of students in the faith before something went terribly wrong. These schools exist because faithful Catholics wanted a solid Catholic education for young people. The campus, the buildings, the proud traditions: these are all part of a patrimony, handed down by our forefathers in the faith. Are we willing to give them all away now?

Yes, I know; these institutions already largely controlled by professors and administrators who are at best indifferent to the Catholic faith, and at worst hostile. But that could change. Just as the culture of dissent took over the schools in the late 20th century, a resurgence of orthodoxy could recapture them in the 21st. If the schools were officially stamped as non-Catholic, it would be much more difficult to reclaim them.


Lawler raises issues that many have been discussing for a very, very long time.

But, The Motley Monk asks:

  • If a Catholic institution isn’t providing students a distinctively Catholic educational experience as the Church defines that, what “valuable” resource would the Church be losing?
  • If that institution’s campus, building, and proud traditions—the “patrimony”—are nothing but mausoleums testifying to a dead past and which the majority of its administrators and faculty wish would disappear into the dustbin of history, what “valuable” resource would the Church be losing?
  • And what evidence is there that those who control most of these institutions today have in place succession plans to ensure they will be replaced by authentically Catholic academics—that so-called “resurgence of orthodoxy”?


Speculating about the answers to these questions isn’t necessary.  After all, the answers are already in.

Consider George M. Marsden’s “The Soul of the American University: From Protestant Establishment to Established Nonbelief.”

  • All of those once eminent Protestant universities and colleges in the United States he studied are now abundantly-endowed, nonsectarian, and secular institutions.
  • The patrimony has been eviscerated from their institutional cultures.
  • Any hoped-for resurgence of orthodoxy hasn’t happened for 100+ years and, quite likely, won’t happen any time soon, given the state of U.S. Protestantism.


The Motley Monk is wondering whether the fear of losing a “valuable” resource is a chimera, one engendering cowardice in those who bear a moral responsibility for U.S. Catholic higher education.

What’s at stake?

The soul of U.S. Catholic higher education, what may have once been a valuable resource.



To read Phil Lawler’s article, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


LCWR: No “dialogue” about discussion about sexual abuse by nuns…


The day after The Motley Monk posted “Cracking Down on the LCWR: Is Orthodoxy the Only Problem?” at The American Catholic, the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests, (SNAP) staged a protest outside of the meeting of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) in St. Louis.




According to Steve Theisen of Iowa SNAP who was sexually victimized by a nun as a child:

The scandal of child molesting nuns takes a backseat to abuse by priests, remaining dangerously in the shadows.  More and more, we’re hearing from men and women who were molested, as young kids and vulnerable adults, by nuns across the country. Yet nun officials have done little to determine just how widespread such crimes and cover ups are or take effective steps to stop them in the future.


Isn’t that exactly what the leaders of the LCWR have been saying about the bishops?

According to SNAP’s Director, David Clohessy, LCWR has not responded to SNAP’s repeated prodding to let childhood sexual victims speak at the nun’s conference,  to actively reach out to victims of nun abuse, and to post the names, photos and whereabouts of proven, admitted, and credibly accused child molesting nuns on church websites.  Clohessy writes:

It’s ironic that the LCWR makes the same excuses for inaction now what bishops used 20 years ago.  They make essentially bureaucratic claims like “our structure doesn’t permit us to do more” and their meetings are not “the best venue” to address these issues. It’s very disheartening.


As The Motley Monk also noted, there’s also not much the main stream media is reporting about the issue of clergy sex crimes and cover ups by nuns.  According to SNAP’s Outreach Director, Barbara Dorris:

It’s stunning, really, to see nuns moving more timidly and slowly on child sex crimes and cover ups than bishops.   Abuse by nuns is certainly more common than anyone suspects, and inaction by nuns’ groups contributes to this secrecy.



To read The Motley Monk’s post “Cracking Down on the LCWR: Is Orthodoxy the Only Problem?,” click on the following link:

To read David Clohessy’s post, click on the following link:


Cracking down on the LCWR : Is orthodoxy the only problem?


The Vatican’s so-called “crackdown” on the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) for doctrinal heterodoxy generated a bit of press on the part of the American Catholic left.

If leftist media reports are to be believed, LCRW leaders were “stunned” and their ire has been raised by the crackdown.  Rome is “bullying” those selfless, consecrated women whose lives of humble charity in imitation of Jesus endeared  them to many Catholics and non-Catholics alike.  After all, LCRW leaders only seek “honest, respectful dialogue towards peacemaking and reconciliation.”


Now that the initial fallout has settled a bit, The Motley Monk detects what may be a new twist surfacing in the narrative.  This slightly revised version raises the specter that conservative  American cardinals living in Rome were pivotal in what The Motley Monk previously called a “hostile takeover” of the LCWR.

That “conservative” American cardinals engineered this shocking maneuver, according to the American Catholic left, is bad enough.

But, compounding evil upon evil—yes, in the eyes of many on the American Catholic left, conservative Catholicism is an intrinsic evil that’s intent upon destroying the authentic reform of the Church envisaged at Vatican II—the Catholic left’s media has reported that one of the key players in the LCWR’s hostile takeover was none other than Cardinal Bernard Law.  He’s the former Archbishop of Boston.

If previous media reports are to be believed, Law’s cover up of priestly pedophilia and ephebophilia in Boston required the Vatican to usher him out of the United States and ensconce him safely in the Vatican.  Doing so under the Vatican’s protective cover of “diplomatic immunity” would ensure that a Cardinal of the Roman Catholic Church wouldn’t be indicted on U.S. soil.


Cardinal Bernard Law kisses the papal ring
on Wednesday June 7, 2006


According to Robert Mickens in The Tablet, Cardinal Law was “the person in Rome most forcefully supporting” the LCWR investigation that began in 2009 and ended in 2011, with the hostile takeover being announced in April 2012.   Minkens reports one American cleric calling Cardinal Law the “prime instigator” of the investigation.

It has been alleged that Law’s cohort included the former Archbishop of St. Louis, Cardinal  Raymond Burke, as well as Cardinal James Stafford, the former Archbishop of Denver who worked in the  Roman Curia since 1996.  Then, too, another American, the former Archbishop of San Francisco, Cardinal William Levada, conducted the actual investigation.

Is the “crackdown,” as it’s being suggested, “pay back” for the grief the LCWR has caused the American hierarchy for the past several decades?

The Motley Monk thinks maybe not.

With the leftist media linking the hostile takeover of the LCWR to the pedophilia and ephebophophilia scandal, The Motley Monk wonders whether operatives of the American Catholic left and their media outlets are attempting to distract attention away from what’s a very important question that’s not being asked, at least in public: What was the LCWR’s role, if any, in a glossing over—if not a coverup—of pedophilia and ephebophilia on the part of Catholic women religious?

Check out how Sr. Joan D. Chittister, OSB, the 1976 LCWR President,  avoids the question (begin at 9:05)



Promoting the narrative that the women religious were 100% “pure as the driven snow” as they set about effecting greater “peace with justice” in the post-Vatican II era, the media’s sole focus became the alleged machinations of evil clergymen who engaged in an unconscionable covering up of the pedophilia and ephebophilia scandals.  There’d be little reason to suspect that women religious—and especially the LCWR—would ever engage in similar heinous behavior.

Perhaps CNN’s Christiane Amanpour didn’t do her homework.

Doctrinal heterodoxy may not be all that’s problematic with the LCWR.  It may very well be that the “Nuns [are] on the Run from the Truth,” as Frances Kissling observed three years ago and as a Daily Kos article has detailed.  There’s also a long list of allegations posted at BishopAccountability.org.

Just ask the folks at the Survivors Network of those Abused by Priests (SNAP) about how the LCWR treated them when they started asking questions.



To read The Motley Monk’s post at The American Catholic, click on the following link:

To read about Robert Micken’s report, click on the following link:

To read Frances Kissling’s article in Salon.com, click on the following link:

To read the Daily Kos article, click on the following link:

To read the National Catholic Reporter article about SNAP’s experience with the LCWR, click on the following link:


A seamless garment: The Vatican, the LCWR, and U.S. Catholic higher education…


In a speech delivered in June 2012 to the Catholic bishops of the United States gathered in Atlanta, the Papal Nuncio to the United States, Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò, called this a “difficult time.”  He then said:

The Church must speak with one voice.  We all know that the fundamental tactic of the enemy is to show a church divided.

This can be viewed, he said, “providentially, as an invitation to the entire Church in the United States, especially among her consecrated religious and in her educational institutions, to take on an attitude of deep communion with the local bishop.”


Archbishop Carlo Maria Viganò
Papal Nuncio to the United States


In that one very diplomatically worded statement, Archbishop Viganò put his finger directly on the raw nerve The Motley Monk believes has been stretched, if not perforated and maybe even torn—a schism in the U.S. Catholic Church—since the close of the Second Vatican Council.

What’s that nerve?

It’s the stretching of the meaning of the term “Catholic“—as in “Roman Catholic“—through the incessant questioning of its doctrinal and moral teaching that has as its primary objective to berate fundamental tenets of the Christian faith.  That questioning has gone to the point that many religious women and men as well as many Catholic institutions of higher education no longer uphold Church teaching—are not united with the bishops—but instead thrive on “questioning” both Church teaching and its pastors—all under the disguise of “teaching Theology” (without a mandatum, of course).

Most recently, this nerve has been tested yet once again by the instruction issued by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith regarding the Leadership Conference of Religious Women (LCWR).

Discussing the instruction, the LCWR’s President, Sister Pat Farrell, told a New York Times reporter that the Vatican seems to regard “questioning” as “defiance,” while the sisters see it as a form of “faithfulness.”  Sr. Farrell said:

We have a differing perspective on obedience.  Our understanding is that we need to continue to respond to the signs of the times, and the new questions and issues that arise in the complexities of modern life are not something we see as a threat.

Let’s be honest: That’s code language for the Marxian materialist dialectic—identify the thesis, promote the antithesis, and develop a “consensus” in the form of a new synthesis that gradually “transforms” the “old” into the “new.”


The Marxian materialistic dialectic


To wit: “defiance vs. faithfulness,” emerging in a new “consensus” of openness to the modern world as taught by Vatican II.  Such “questioning,” it is asserted, should present absolutely no threat, except to those old and tired Vatican ideologues who are grasping onto their failed ideological thesis that the modern world resoundingly rejects.

Get with the program!

That’s why Sr. Farrell equates the LCWR’s “questioning“—which, by the way, The Motley Monk happens to believe is a very good thing when it’s actually questioning not filibustering or badgering—with the need to use materialist ideologies (the antithesis) to judge the validity of Church teaching (the thesis) for the modern world.

Is this a Faustian pact?

The Motley Monk would note, there’s a vast gulf demarcating “belief seeking understanding” (“I believe in the virgin birth and am questioning what I believe in order to understand better what it really means in the modern world”) from “understanding seeking belief” (“I question the virgin birth and will not believe in it until I have sufficient proof using my standard for determining the truth of the matter”).  The former reveals a sincere questioner—a person of faith—while the latter reveals a petulant ideologue—a closed-minded bigot.

Or, more pointedly, about the issues of concern to the LCWR:

  • “I believe that God has ordained complementary roles for women and men, with the priesthood reserved to men and I am questioning that tenet in order to understand better what that means in the modern world” vs. “I question the Church teaching about an all-male priesthood and will not change my mind until I judge that teaching’s validity using my standard of judgment.”
  • “I believe that God has endowed nature with a law that governs all of nature and violating that law is immoral and I am questioning that tenet in order to understand better what that means about the use of artificial forms of birth control in the modern world” vs. “I question the Church’s teaching about the use of artificial forms of birth control and will not change my mind until I judge that teaching’s validity using my standard of judgment.”
  • “I believe that God has ordained marriage to be a sacred union between one male and one female for the purpose of begetting families and I am questioning that tenet in order to understand better what that means about homosexuals who want to attempt marriage in the modern world” vs. “I question the Church teaching about marriage, am open to homosexual marriage, and will not change my mind until I judge that teaching’s validity using my standard of judgment.”



What’s the likelihood of “metanoia” (a change of “mind”), that is, giving up the Marxist materialist ideology?

Pretty slim.

That’s the nerve Archbishop Viganò put his finger on when he addressed the nation’s bishops.  It’s the materialist, Marxist ideology that’s shaped how many of the nation’s religious women and men think.  It’s also shaped the culture of many of the nation’s institutions of Catholic higher education because it’s how many of those who administer and teach in those institutions think.

That in his role as Papal Nuncio, The Motley Monk understands why Archbishop Viganò delivered that address to the bishops.  Viganò was relating to the bishops—the pastors—what’s on the Pope’s mind

The problem is that the Archbishop’s message needs to be delivered directly to the pastors’ choirmasters and mistresses.

It would be quite interesting if Archbishop Viganò was to deliver the very same address to the heads of the Leadership Conference of Religious Women, the Conference of Major Superiors of Men, and the presidents of the nation’s institutions of Catholic higher education.

His reference to “an attitude of deep communion with the local bishop” recalls The Motley Monk’s reading of the 1978 joint-directive from the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for Religious “Directive for mutual relations between bishops and religious in the Church.”  Chapters 2 and 3 offer a rich theological reflection upon the concept of ecclesial communion which differentiates the Roman Catholic Church from other churches and denominations, and in particular, Protestantism and Anglicanism.

Challenging the women and men religious as well as the presidents of the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges to read and reflect upon this model may inform them that they are not thinking with the Church.




To read the article in the New York Times, click on the following link:

To read the 1978 joint-directive from the Vatican’s Congregation for Bishops and the Congregation for Religious “Directive for mutual relations between bishops and religious in the Church,” click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


Catholic capitalists opposing Obamacare: A “leaven at work in the world”…


Thank goodness the federal government has made it possible for all of those capitalists entrepreneurs to succeed.

For example, consider William E. Newland who founded Hercules Industries (HI) in 1962 as a family owned and operated heating, ventilating, and air-conditioning business in Colorado.



Five decades later, William, Paul, and James Newland, along with their sister, Christine Ketterhagen, own HI which boasts 265 employees.

More important than all of that success—that’s due, as President Obama reecently reminded the nation, to the federal government’s largess—CNSNews.com reports that the Newlands are Roman Catholic.  Better yet, HI offers its employees a self-insurance plan, providing generous healthcare coverage that’s consistent with Church moral teaching.  That is, the plan doesn’t cover sterilizations, artificial contraceptives, or abortifacients.

And, because of that, HI now finds itself in the crosshairs of legal jeopardy…all due to the federal government.

HI must comply by August 1, 2012, with the mandate issued by Health and Human Services (HHS) Secretary Kathleen Sebelius in February 2012 which requires businesses having more than 50 employees to provide health insurance to their employees—including free sterilizations, artificial contraceptives, and abortafacients—or pay a penalty.

With 265 employees, HI will have to pay the federal government $26.5k/day if HI doesn’t comply with the Sebelius mandate and provided insurance to its employees anyway.  The annual cost to HI will be ~$9.7M.

Much to their credit, the Newlands aren’t taking this matter sitting down and have decided not to comply.  Instead, they’ve filed a lawsuit, Newlands v. Sebelius et al., alleging that they can’t comply with the mandate without violating their religious faith.  The lawsuit states:

The Newlands sincerely believe that the Catholic faith does not allow them to violate Catholic religious and moral teachings in their decisions operating Hercules Industries.

The Newlands believe that according to the Catholic faith, their operation of Hercules Industries must be guided by ethical social principles and Catholic religious and moral teachings, that the adherence of their business practice according to such Catholic ethics and religious and moral teachings is a genuine calling from God, that their Catholic faith prohibits them to sever their religious beliefs from their daily business practice, and that their Catholic faith requires them to integrate the gifts of the spiritual life, the virtues, morals, and ethical social principles of Catholic teaching into their life and work.

The Catholic Church teaches that abortafacient drugs, contraception and sterilization are intrinsic evils.  As a matter of religious faith the Newlands believe that those Catholic teachings are among the religious ethical teachings they must follow throughout their lives including in their business practice.


Don’t think for one moment that the Obama administration is going to have any of that!

The Justice Department responded by making a formal filing in the U.S. District Court for the District of Colorado.  The filing states:

Here, plaintiffs have not sufficiently alleged that the preventive services coverage regulations substantially burden their religious exercise.  Hercules Industries, Inc., is not a religious employer; it is “an HVAC manufacturer.”

The First Amendment Complaint does not allege that the company is affiliated with a formally religious entity such as a church.  Nor does it allege that the company employs persons of a particular faith. In short, Hercules Industries is plainly a for-profit, secular employer.

By definition, a secular employer does not engage in any “exercise of religion.”

Hercules Industries has “made no showing of a religious belief which requires that [it] engage in the [HVAC] business.”  Any burden is therefore caused by the company’s choice to enter into a commercial activity.


Of course, skeptics and cynics will see in the Newlands’ fidelity to Church teaching a bunch of greedy capitalists responding to a profit motive.  The Newlands’ simply want to keep their healthcare expenses down in order to increase HI’s profit.

Others are defending the Newlands and HI on the grounds of freedom of religious expression and speech, arguing that the Obama administration is forcing the Newlands to chose between exercising freedom of religion and speech or shuttering HI.

For example, the Alliance Defending Freedom, which is representing the Newlands, responded to the Justice Department’s brief:

[T]o the extent the government is arguing that its mandate does not really burden the Newlands because they are free to abandon their jobs, their livelihoods, and their property so that others can take over Hercules and comply, this expulsion from business would be an extreme form of government burden.


The Motley Monk wants to point instead to the Newlands’ fidelity to Church teaching.  These are the Catholics who take seriously the challenge that the Second Vatican Council issued to the laity.  They are to be a “leaven at work in the world.”


Today, the forces of this world—embodied in the Sebelieus mandate (the demonic irony being that Ms. Sebelius is Catholic)—are presenting the Newlands a “choice” that’s actually “no choice” at all:

  • They can shut down HI and add 265 new individuals to the unemployment lines.
  • They can sell HI and let the buyers do what they want.
  • They can stop providing health insurance through HI, but HI employees will only be able to purchase healthcare insurance that covers artificial contraception, sterilizations, and abortafacients. (The premiums then help pay for those “services” and HI would be required to pay a penalty to the government of ~$2k/year/employee that HI did not insure.)
  • They can ignore the Sebelius mandate and continue to provide HI employees healthcare insurance that doesn’t provide “free” coverage for artificial birth control, sterilizations, and abortafacients.  (That’s when the federal government will use those 50k new IRS agents to come in and require HI to pay those confiscatory penalties.)


“Witness”—being a leaven at work in the world or, in a previous era, “martyrdom”—never presents a good option.

In this era, it requires Catholics—following the lead of the Newlands as they operate HI—to stand up for the moral teachings of their faith.  In this way, they demonstrate their love of God and neighbor as a leaven at work in the world.



To read the CNSNews story, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


Cardinal Burke: How to stop mandatum abuse…


The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) has released a new report, “A Mandate for Fidelity,” concerning the mandatum (a bishop’s mandate) that’s required to teach theology in a Catholic institution of higher education.



The mandatum was specified by the 1990 Apostolic Constitution on Catholic Universities, Ex corde Ecclesiae, and as implemented in the United States, requires a theology professor to request mandatum from the local bishop where the theologian teaches.  The professor commits, in writing, “to teach authentic Catholic doctrine and to refrain from putting forth as Catholic teaching anything contrary to the Church’s Magisterium.”


Canon 812 of the Catholic Church’s Code of Canon Law also requires theologians to possess a mandatum:

Those who teach theological disciplines in any institutes of higher studies whatsoever must have a mandate from the competent ecclesiastical authority.


In addition, Canon 810 describes the responsibility of academic administrators at Catholic institutions of higher education in this regard:

It is the responsibility of the authority who is competent in accord with the statutes to provide for the appointment of teachers to Catholic universities who, besides their scientific and pedagogical suitability, are also outstanding in their integrity of doctrine and probity of life; when those requisite qualities are lacking they are to be removed from their positions in accord with the procedure set forth in the statutes.


The Motley Monk thinks the CNS report is especially worth reading for two reasons.


The first reason concerns the number of administrators and professors in the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges who have not taken the mandatum seriously.


The CNS report draws attention to a 2011 survey of U.S. Catholic university and college academic administrators indicating that:

  • 42% of respondents said their institutions have neither a department nor a chair of Catholic theology as required by Ex corde Ecclesiae
  •   7%+ responded that Catholic theology isn’t taught in their institutions.


Of the remaining 51% of respondents who said their institutions have a department or chair of Catholic theology:

  • 36% said they didn’t know whether their Theology professors have received the mandatum;
  • 10% reported some but not all of their theologians have received the mandatum; and,
  •   6% said no professors have received a mandatum.


The “dirty little secret” is that more than two decades after the publication of Ex corde Ecclesiae, nearly 50% of the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges don’t have a department or chair of Catholic theology.


The second reason for reading the CNS report concerns how, during those 2+ decades, many administrators and professors have “privatized” the mandatum, making it a private matter between the bishop and theologian.  And, apparently, bishops in whose dioceses Catholic universities and colleges are located aren’t very much interested in pushing the issue.


This conduct has evidently been brought to and caught the attention of Pope Benedict XVI, who in a May 5, 2012 ad limina address to a group of American bishops, expressed his concern that “much remains to be done” toward the renewal of Catholic identity in U.S. Catholic colleges and universities.  The Pope highlighted, in particular, “such areas as compliance with the mandate laid down in Canon 812 for those who teach theological disciplines.” He then cited “the confusion created by instances of apparent dissidence between some representatives of Catholic institutions and the Church’s pastoral leadership.”


So, then, what does Canon 812 require?


Responding to a CNS inquiry, the Prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura (the Vatican’s Supreme Court), Cardinal Raymond Burke, pointed to Pope Benedict XVI’s description of the mandatum as “a tangible expression of ecclesial communion and solidarity.” Asserting that the mandatum is a public not private matter, Cardinal Burke said:

It’s tangible in the sense that it’s a public declaration, in writing, on the part of the ecclesiastical authority that a theologian is teaching in communion with the Church, and people have a right to know that so that if you, for instance, are at a Catholic university or parents are sending their children to the Catholic university, they know that the professors who are teaching theological disciplines at the university are teaching in communion with the Church.  They are assured in that by the public declaration of the diocesan bishop.


Cardinal Burke added: “The fact that I teach in accord with the Magisterium is a public factor.  That’s not some private, secret thing between myself and the Lord” (italics added).


Should only theology professors with the mandatum be employed at a Catholic university or college?


Cardinal Burke responded “Yes,” adding:

…[T]he Catholic university will want that all its teachers of theology or the theological disciplines have a mandate and will not, of course, retain the professor in teaching Catholic theology or the theological disciplines who does not have a mandate, because to do so would be to call into question the whole raison d’etre of the university.  If a Catholic university doesn’t distinguish itself for its care, that those who are teaching theology and the other theological disciplines are doing so in communion with the Magisterium, what reason does it have to exist?




The Motley Monk concurs with Cardinal Burke’s assessment.


Academic administrators at the nation’s Catholic universities and colleges should take the mandatum seriously, if only because it provides a tangible—public—recognition of an institution’s fidelity to the Church and its teaching, which constitutes the essential identity of Catholic higher education.


If those academic administrators are not willing to require a mandatum as a condition for employment as well as tenure and promotion in rank for those who teach theology and theological disciplines, they should—at a minimum—make public to students and their parents those professors who teach theology or theological disciplines and are in communion with the Church.


Unfortunately, Cardinal Burke has no ordinary jurisdiction in the matter as he is not the Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education.  However, his opinion as the Church’s highest ranking juridical official after the Pope does carry great moral weight and should influence the thinking of the diocesan bishops in whose territory Catholic universities and colleges are located.  They can and should require those who teach theology or theological disciplines to possess a mandatum.



To read the CNS report, click on the following link:

To read Ex corde Ecclesiae, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


The mainstream media and the Leadership Conference of Religious Women: “Fair and balanced” reportage?


The so-called “mainstream” media had a feeding frenzy immediately after the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) announced its doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR).

If one was to believe the reports, an institution led by patriarchal, misogynists who don’t “get it” are now attempting to strike back by discrediting “the good sisters.”

Bishop Leonard Blair
Diocese of Toledo (OH)

There’s another side to the story not being reported by the main stream media.  It’s provided by Bishop Leonard Blair, who led the initial inquiry into the LCWR.  In an article entitled, “Reality Check: The LCWR, CDF, and the Doctrinal Assessment,” Bishop Blair explores what he calls “the distortions and misrepresentation of the facts being asserted by the mainstream media.

These include:

  • The claim that CDF has no direct authority over the LCWR.  In fact, the LCWR’s function, responsibilities, and statutes have been approved by the Holy See and to which the LCWR remains accountable.
  • The claim that the CDF and the bishops are attacking or criticizing the life, work, and members of women’s Catholic religious congregations in the United States.  In fact, the CDF’s concerns are doctrinal.
  • The claim that the “investigation” is directed at women’s religious congregations and their members.  In fact, the word “investigation” mischaracterizes the doctrinal “assessment” ordered by the CDF.  The assessment was aimed at the LCWR’s operations, including its programs and publications.
  • The claim that the assessment was covert, blindsiding the LCWR and its members.  In fact, the assessment was carried out in dialogue with the LCWR leadership, both in writing and face-to-face, over several months.

For Bishop Blair, the fundamental question was simply this: “What are the Church’s pastors to make of the fact that the LCWR constantly provides a one-sided platform—without challenge or any opposing view—to speakers who take a negative and critical position vis-a-vis Church doctrine and discipline and the Church’s teaching office?”

Suffice it to say, the Church’s pastors had every reason to be concerned about the LCWR’s doctrinal positions.  After listing some causes for concern, Bishop Blair then asks:

[Is] it the role of a pontifically recognized leadership group to criticize and undermine faith in church teaching by what is said and unsaid, or rather to work to create greater understanding and acceptance of what the Church believes and teaches?

Note too, Bishop Blair asserts, that those who are criticizing the CDF and the bishops for assessing the LCWR don’t hold the teachings of the Catholic Church or are Catholics who dissent from those teachings.

A good observation.  Why should those who dissent from Church teaching—Catholic or not—determine for the Church what constitutes a “legitimate cause for doctrinal concern” about the activities a pontifically-approved organization?

More interesting is Bishop Blair’s prognosis about what the future portends.  He writes:

The response thus far is exemplified by the LCWR leadership’s choice of a New Age Futurist to address its 2012 assembly, and their decision to give an award this year to Sister Sandra Schneiders, who has expressed the view that the hierarchical structure of the church represents an institutionalized form of patriarchal domination that cannot be reconciled with the Gospel.

So much for the much-touted, post-Vatican II spirit of “communio.

To The Motley Monk, it’s sounding more and more like heresy and schism.

Call it what it is and be done with it as nature follows its inevitable trajectory.



To read Bishop Blair’s article, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


Catholic educators and their problems with making a “profession of faith”…

So…if a CCD teacher believes that the all-male priesthood is wrongheaded Church policy and that the ban of the use of artificial birth control is equally wrongheaded, should that individual be allowed to teach CCD?

If that person happens to want to do so in the Diocese of Arlington, VA, the answer is “No.”


The Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde
Bishop of Arlington (VA)


According to the Washington Post, the Bishop of the Diocese of Arlington, the Most Reverend Paul S. Loverde, is requiring his 5k teachers in Catholic schools and CCD teachers as well—to “submit of will and intellect” to teachings the Church characterizes as divinely revealed.  The diocese includes nearly 500k Catholics across northern and eastern Virginia.

The diocese sent a letter to the teachers in early June and requires that they profess an oath of fidelity before a priest.

The diocese’s Director of Education and Liturgy, the Reverend Paul deLadurantaye, said:

The Church is foremost a communion, not a building.  And the church’s teaching is meant to be a service, not to coerce or oppress….This is just to say the Church is a reliable guide, more reliable in these matters than what I read elsewhere. There’s something more transcendent than just my own judgment.

The diocesan spokesman, Michael Donohue, said Bishop Loverde sent the letter in response to Pope Benedict XVI’s direction Catholics celebrate this year’s 50th anniversary of the start of Vatican II in various ways, including those that “profess our faith in the risen Lord.”  Donohue called the oath “uncontroversial,” saying it is meant to be a positive sign to parents:

I can’t imagine there are many [teachers] who have issues with the church’s teachings on faith and morals.

Donohue also said he “found it hard to believe” that anyone who had concluded that a Church teaching was wrong would want to teach it.

Apparently Bishop Loverde, Fr. deLadurantaye, and Mr. Donohue didn’t consult with Kathleen Riley and Rosemarie Zagarri or at least three other CCD teachers at St. Ann’s Parish who have resigned rather than make the profession of faith.

Riley said:

I’m just shocked, I can’t believe they’re asking me to sign this.  The bishops are human, and sometimes their judgment is not God’s judgment.  We always have to be vigilant about that. The Holy Spirit gives us the responsibility to look into our own consciences.

Zagarri—a professor of history at George Mason University—called the profession of faith a “slap in the face” to Catholics who have remained active and close their differences with Church teaching.  Zagarri wrote Bishop Loverde:

Although I fully understand the authoritative role of the Catholic hierarchy in defining the teachings of the faith, in my view only a person who is willing to abandon her own reason and judgment, or who is willing to go against the dictates of her own conscience, can agree to sign such a document.

In an interview with the Washington Post, Zagarri added:

This is not in the spirit of what people go to a Catholic church for, which is community and a loving, welcoming environment. It’s exclusionary, a suppression of dissent, let’s all line up and be the army of God.

The Director of the University of Notre Dame’s Mary Ann Remick Leadership Program, Reverend Ronald Zuzzi, sympathizes with the bishops…to a degree.

Nuzzi told the Washington Post that he believes many bishops “are in a pickle” because they want Catholic institutions to be staffed by people who not only teach what the Church teaches but whose “whole life will bear witness.”

However, Nuzzi also keeps a 1940s photo on his desk showing the German bishops giving the Nazi salute.  He said:

I keep it there to remind people who say to do everything the Church says, that their wisdom has limitations, too.

A “profession of faith” is synonymous with a Nazi salute?

When bishops make political decisions—no matter what their political views may be—they’re not teaching faith and morals. The profession of faith concerns only those defined Church teachings which are applicable for all times.



To read the Washington Post article, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


It’s raining on the pro-homosexual “marriage” parade…

It’s a tough slog to read Mark Regnerus’ study “How different are the adult children of parents who have same-sex relationships? Findings from the New Family Structures Study.” But, it’s required if one is to properly evaluate whether the findings are the result of “good” social science methods or “junk” social science methods.

The Motley Monk evaluates the study as “good social science,” the findings of which are going to fuel a lot of acrimony on the part of those advocating so-called “homosexual marriage.”

The key finding?

According to Regnerus:

While it is certainly accurate to affirm that sexual orientation or parental sexual behavior need have nothing to do with the ability to be a good, effective parent, the data evaluated herein using population-based estimates drawn from a large, nationally-representative sample of young Americans suggest that it may affect the reality of family experiences among a significant number.

It appears anecdotally that children don’t need a married mother and father to turn out well as adults.  Furthermore, the data gathered in the New Family Structures Study (NFSS) indicates there are many children who “have proven resilient and prevailed as adults in spite of numerous transitions, be they death, divorce, additional or diverse romantic partners, or remarriage.”  That said:

[The] NFSS also clearly reveals that children appear most apt to succeed well as adults—on multiple counts and across a variety of domains—when they spend their entire childhood with their married mother and father, and especially when the parents remain married to the present day. Insofar as the share of intact, biological mother/father families continues to shrink in the United States, as it has, this portends growing challenges within families, but also heightened dependence on public health organizations, federal and state public assistance, psychotherapeutic resources, substance use programs, and the criminal justice system.

Whoa!  The best home environment in which to raise children is one with a married mother and father who remain married?

There’s more:

  • There are “statistically significant” differences in 25 of 40 outcomes between adult children who grew up with married, heterosexual parents and those who grew up with a mother who had a homosexual relationship.
  • Households led by parents of either sex who are engaged in homosexual relationships demonstrate greater household instability.
  • Children from lesbian households demonstrate more physical and mental health problems, more instability in romantic relationships, and lower average income as adults. In addition, children from these households also demonstrate higher levels of unemployment, smoking, need for public assistance, and involvement in crime.

The critics haven’t allowed these findings to go unchallenged…so much so that a group of 18 eminent social scientists have criticized the “sustained and sensational criticism” voiced by the mainstream media concerning the study’s findings.  Asserting that the study is “not without limitations,” the scholars claim that much of the criticism is “unwarranted.”

According to Catholic News Service, the study’s findings are consistent with other studies of homosexual couples in countries like the Netherlands and Sweden and are “parallel” to those of the American Institutes for Research sociologist Daniel Potter.  Potter studied homosexual parenting and children’s academic achievement, finding that children in homosexual parent families scored lower than their peers in married households with both biological parents.

Interestingly, much of the criticism has nothing to do with the study’s methodology but with the how study is being used to promote an anti-homosexual “marriage” agenda.



To read the study, click on the following link:

To read the Catholic News Service article, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


Has the Austrian hierarchy “had it”?

Although the undercurrents have been there for decades and similar ideas and conduct transpires beneath the radar, dissident U.S. Catholic priests had better observe what’s happening in Austria—where 10% of the clergy have formed a dissident group named “Call to Disobedience”—before signing documents espousing their heterodox ideas and conduct.

What does the Austrian group propose?

Similar to American dissident priests, Austrian dissident priests have for decades formed groups that publicly have advocated “reforms,” including the ordination of women and abolishing clerical celibacy.  More recently, they have publicly pledged to break Church rules by giving Holy Communion to Protestants and divorced Catholics who remarry.


The dissident priests’ policies are popular in Austria, with public opinion polls demonstrating broad support for them.

But, “the times…they are a’ changing.”

In May, the Archbishop of Vienna , Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn, priests in May that dissidents would not be appointed to the post of dean and those who would be coming up for renewal would have to choose between Church teaching or their group’s “reform” campaign.

Clarifying matters, an archdiocesan spokesman Nikolaus Haselsteiner said:

You can easily remain a member of the Priests’ Initiative. You must only distance yourself from the “Call to Disobedience” in an appropriate way.

In an average company, a department head can’t say he doesn’t care what the CEO says.

According to a Reuters report, one priest has withdrawn his support for the reform campaign and kept his job.  Two or three more have yet to decide whether to withdraw their support from the manifesto.  But, the Reverend Peter Meidinger—a founding member of the group issuing the Manifesto—has stepped down from the post of dean rather than renounce the “Call to Disobedience” manifesto.  Meidinger said:

I spoke to the archbishop and perhaps you cannot say I had to choose, but I had the impression that there was no way out for me so I am stepping down and freeing up the spot.

For me what is important is the Priests’ Initiative and not the term “disobedience.”  The term civil disobedience is used when the leaders are simply not prepared to listen to people.

Yes, that’s what the problem has been: The hierarchy is “not prepared” to listen to the people.


The Motley Monk is wondering if the opposite is more likely the case.  Namely, might it be that the hierarchy has listened long and patiently and finally has decided “enough is enough”?

Cardinal Christoph Schoenborn

Will Cardinal Schoenborn’s more confrontational approach to dealing with dissident priests be exported to the United States?

Time will tell.


 To read the Reuters report, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


The “Fortnight for Freedom” and established religion…

With the Catholic Church in the United States deep into its “Fortnight for Freedom,” The Motley Monk thinks it useful to contemplate the blessing of religious liberty called the “Establishment Clause” and the “Free Exercise Clause.”  That is, Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion or prohibiting the free exercise thereof.

Other nations aren’t so richly blessed.

Grundtvig’s Church, Denmark

Take Denmark, for example, where the Vatican Insider reports that Parliament recently voted 85 to 24 to compel churches in the established Evangelical Lutheran Church to perform homosexual “marriage” ceremonies—identical to those performed for heterosexual couples—inside their sanctuaries.  The new law took effect on June 15th.

One third of the denomination’s ministers say they will not participate in these rituals and may use the law’s “opt out for theological reasons” clause to do so.  However, a bishop must arrange for a replacement.

Okay, The Motley Monk “gets it.”  The Evangelical Lutheran Church of Denmark is an established church and, in fact, has been Denmark’s established church since 1849.  As such, Denmark’s House of Parliament is free to exert its will upon the church as it pleases.  If a minister won’t do what Parliament demands, Parliament has every right to tell the bishop to do what Parliament demands.

Thank God that’s not how it works in the United States.

But, this particular establishment story doesn’t end there.

Better yet is the genesis of the legislation establishing homosexual “marriages” in Denmark’s established church.

The bill’s primary sponsor was Denmark’s Minister of Equality and Church and Nordic Cooperation, Manu Sareen. 

Manu Sareen

Mr. Sareen is an agnostic.

The Motley Monk is down on his knees thanking God for the blessing of religious liberty. 


To read the Vatican Insider article, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:



Are vouchers for Catholic schools the answer?

Consider the following statistics:

  • Catholic elementary schools in the Archdiocese of Chicago saw enrollment increase 3% in 2012 and 1% in 2011—the first two-year period of growth since 1965.  Archdiocese of Boston elementary schools had a 2% bump—the first in two decades.  The Archdioceses of Los Angeles and Indianapolis and the Diocese of Bridgeport (CN) also increased in student population for the first time in a very long time.
  • Since 2000, U.S. Catholic school enrollment has plummeted by 23% and 1.9k schools have closed.  However, the rate of decline in the number of Catholic schools has slowed.  In 2012, 2M students attended Catholic schools, down 1.7% from 2011, but less than the average yearly decline of 2.5% since 2000.

The Wall Street Journal suggests that much of this growth is due to the increasing availability of vouchers, which ease the financial burden on parents of sending their kids to non-public schools. 

For example:

  • Vouchers are currently available in 10 states and the District of Columbia.
  • Virginia, Florida, and Louisiana each created or expanded voucher or tax credit programs in the last 18 months.
  • Indiana boasts the largest voucher system in the nation.  More than 2.4k students have transferred from public schools to private Catholic schools since the program began last year.

Perhaps this “success” is for entirely the wrong reason.

While voucher programs may have “breathed new life” into Catholic schools while simultaneously offering students the opportunity to receive a superior education, are those schools decidedly Catholic?  And if it is claimed they are, how so?

Let’s try a couple of “not’s”:

  • A good private school that calls itself Catholic isn’t a Catholic school.
  • A good private school that offers a generic or optional Christian religion curriculum isn’t a Catholic school.
  • A good private school that doesn’t immerse students in the faith and its practice isn’t a Catholic school.
  • A good private school whose faculty, administration, and staff don’t believe what the Church teaches isn’t a Catholic school. 

Then, let’s try a couple “what’s”:

  • A Catholic school is one whose faculty, administration, and staff view their work as a vocation and collaborate together in the ministry of providing young people an integral education—mind and soul—as that is informed by Church teaching.
  • A Catholic school is one whose students grow in love of God and neighbor through the practice of the Sacraments and communal prayer.
  • A Catholic school is one where students learn about the Catholic religion and appreciate its role in salvation history.

The Motley Monk would rather there be no “quasi” Catholic schools than an increase in good private schools that masquerade as Catholic, take government money, and in the process, erode the important and distinctive mission of Catholic education.



To read the Wall Street Journal article, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


Ideology trumps reporting…

In a National Review Online article, Ann Carey summarizes the mainstream media’s reaction to and fallout from the doctrinal assessment of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) by the Vatican’s Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF).

In short, the reporting reveals “ignorance/laziness/bias.”

No surprise there, because this lack of reporting of the facts furthers the mainstream media’s ongoing “David versus Goliath” narrative.  Except, of course in this version, it’s “All of those poor, disrespected, and enslaved Sisters versus THE male Vatican apparatchiks.”

One difficulty with this narrative, at least as it’s being reported by the mainstream media, is that most of those Sisters don’t belong to LCWR.  According to Carey:

The grassroots sisters in religious orders do not belong to LCWR, and have neither voice nor vote in the organization. Many of these sisters have told me they resent the LCWR claiming it represents them.

Then, too, Carey points out that most of the mainstream media has ignored the serious doctrinal problems identified by the CDF, indicating a “rejection of faith.”  These include: undermining the doctrines of the Holy Trinity, the divinity of Christ, and the inspiration of Sacred Scripture as well as embracing radical feminism.  As Carey notes:

These are all major doctrines of the Catholic Church, not just “basic, nonheretical questions about gender equality in the church,” as the Times editorial claims.

The Motley Monk notes that in this narrative—pitting the Church’s mission against a secularist agenda—the mainstream media doesn’t seem to be much interested in reporting the facts.  After all, the ideological target is the Church, which may explain why those facts aren’t being reported.


Worse yet, Carey thinks, the truth may be that those who are reporting the story may not have even read the CDF’s documentation.


To read Ann Carey’s article, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


Something “new” for Catholic high schools in Cleveland: A radical, revamped Catholic religion curriculum…


The Cleveland Plain Dealer reports that the Diocese of Cleveland has “revamped” its high school religion curriculum which will be implemented when school reopens this fall.

Perhaps the biggest surprise for those who grew up in the pre-Vatican II era is that the term “revamped” today means “redoux.”  Gone is the post-Vatican II “God loves you, so feel good doing it” religious education curriculum which stressed the many and varied pathways to salvation.  The revamped curriculum will feature a traditional Catholic religion curriculum that stresses orthodoxy and moral clarity.


The Superintendent of Schools for the Diocese of Cleveland, Margaret Lyons, says the revamped program will be “Gospel-centered” and “very orthodox.”  In addition, the revamped teaching materials have expunged any “shyness about talking about moral issues” and will convey concepts “known to previous generations of Catholics but absent from more recent instruction.”  The Motley Monk would note that means many of the catechetical “noun-ing’s” representative of that era—“faithing,” “theologizing,” and “deconstructing”—are “out.” 

Moral clarityVery orthodox?  No shyness?

Omigosh!  This is radical!

While the revamped curriculum “underscores Jesus Christ and the Paschal Mystery” as the source of salvation, students will “read and [will be] guided through Church documents” and if it’s to be believed…

They [will be] taught the role and importance of the Magisterium in guarding and passing on the faith, as well as being a sure guide to positive thinking and behavior.

Additionally, students [will be] instructed in ancient prayer practices used throughout the Church’s two thousand years of history, including the Rosary, Lectio Divina, meditation, the Liturgy of the Hours, the Psalms, litanies and readings in Sacred Scripture.

Omigosh, again!  Magisterium? A sure guide?

What happened to magisterium of the vox populi Dei?

Superintendent Lyons also says the purpose of the revamped curriculum is to cultivate an enduring and lifelong faith, one that’s capable of standing up to cultural secularism and moral relativism.

Wasn’t that called forming “the Church militant” in a previous era?


Most Reverend Richard G. Lennon
Bishop of the Diocese of Cleveland (OH)


According to the Cleveland Plain Dealer, the revamped religion curriculum comes in response to concerns raised by teachers and clergy about the quality of religious instruction in local Catholic schools.  After being appointed Bishop of Cleveland in 2006, Most Reverend Richard G. Lennon listened and assessed the situation, a process that resulted in the 2012 revamped religion curriculum based upon the Catechism of the Catholic Church and guidelines from the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops.

The Motley Monk will be watching closely to see if Cleveland’s revamped Catholic religion curriculum will demonstrate significantly better learning outcomes than the post-Vatican II religious education curriculum did.  Since the 1970s, the National Catholic Educational Association’s Assessment of Catechesis and Religious Education has demonstrated very little difference in outcomes between students attending Catholic schools and those attending CCD programs.  All along, the dirty little secret everyone knew—including the nation’s Catholic hierarchy—was that few young Catholics learned anything demonstrably Catholic during those decades.

At a minimum, future graduates from Cleveland’s Catholic high schools will hopefully know something about the Catholic faith and its practice.  That certainly would represent one important step in the right direction.

After all, knowing little-to-nothing about the Catholic faith and its practice, whatever became of the vast majority of those graduates of Catholic high schools students who were taught the post-Vatican II religious education curriculum?

One thing is certain: They surely aren’t attending Sunday Mass but want those big, expensive church weddings…what has been called “an important catechetical moment.”



To read the Cleveland Plain Dealer article, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


More on the “instruction”: Sr. Margaret Farley, RSM fires back…

It didn’t take long for the New York Times to report a statement issued by Sister Margaret Farley, RSM, whose 2006 book concerning sexual ethics was deemed unfit for Catholic consumption.

In her statement, Sr. Farley wrote:

I can only clarify that the book was not intended to be an expression of current official Catholic teaching, nor was it aimed specifically against this teaching. It is of a different genre altogether.

Sr. Farley is a crafty thinker.  Note her use of the phrase “official Catholic teaching.”

Invoking that phrase, Sr. Farley communicates something subtle: She was not intending to write a book that would reflect what the Vatican teaches.

Crafty indeed!

What Sr. Farley is distinguishing between is what the Vatican teaches about sexual ethics and what she believes is an authentically Catholic sexual ethics.

At the same time, however, those who serve on Congregation of the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) also happen to be clever.  Its members possess decades of experience in spotting such crafty linguistic games.

The Motley Monk thinks this distinction earned Sr. Farley a slap on the wrist.  After all, the CDF’s instruction makes clear there is no authentic Catholic teaching that is not official Catholic teaching.

In contrast, Sr. Farley would like others to believe that her book is eminently suitable for Catholics, even though it does not present official Church teachings. That’s unacceptable to the CDF.

Consequently, if Sr. Farley wants to write ecumenical theology, she remains free to do so.  But if her theology does not square with the teaching of the Magisterium, then Sr. Farley should expect that the CDF will not allow Sr. Farley—or any Catholic theologian who plays the same crafty linguistic game—to pass her speculations off as suitable for Catholics.

In short, “Just Love” is not suitable for Catholics to use to form their consciences.



To read the New York Times article, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


The Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith slaps Sr. Margaret A. Farley, RSM, on the hand…

In a notification dated March 30, 2012, the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith (CDF) stated that the book, “Just Love: A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics” written by Sister Margaret A. Farley, RSM, contains “erroneous propositions, the dissemination of which risks grave harm to the faithful.”

In her 2006 book, the CDF states that Sr. Farley—now retired from the faculty at Yale Divinity School—“does not present a correct understanding of the role of the Church’s Magisterium as the teaching authority of the Bishops united with the Successor of Peter, which guides the Church’s ever deeper understanding of the Word of God as found in Holy Scripture and handed on faithfully in the Church’s living tradition.” 

In addition, Sr. Farley’s treatment of specific moral issues—including masturbation, homosexual acts, homosexual unions, the indissolubility of marriage, and the problem of divorce and remarriage—are erroneous and ambiguous.  The CDF notes:

…either ignores the constant teaching of the Magisterium or, where it is occasionally mentioned, treats it as one opinion among others. Such an attitude is in no way justified, even within the ecumenical perspective that she wishes to promote. Sr. Farley also manifests a defective understanding of the objective nature of the natural moral law, choosing instead to argue on the basis of conclusions selected from certain philosophical currents or from her own understanding of “contemporary experience”. This approach is not consistent with authentic Catholic theology.

Because Sr. Farley’s affirms positions that are in direct contradiction with Catholic teaching in the field of sexual morality, the notification states:

The Congregation warns the faithful that her book Just Love. A Framework for Christian Sexual Ethics is not in conformity with the teaching of the Church. Consequently it cannot be used as a valid expression of Catholic teaching, either in counseling and formation, or in ecumenical and interreligious dialogue. Furthermore the Congregation wishes to encourage theologians to pursue the task of studying and teaching moral theology in full concord with the principles of Catholic doctrine.

While the focus of the notification is the content of Sr. Farley’s book, The Motley Monk notes that Pope Benedict XVI approved it and ordered its publication.

Might this notification, approved and ordered before what The Motley Monk called the “hostile takeover” of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious, provide another signal that the Vatican is going to take a more activist stance in “truth in labeling”?

The warning is gentle, but it’s there.

The CDF wants to “encourage theologians to pursue the task of studying and teaching moral theology in full concord with the principles of Catholic doctrine.”


To read the CDF’s notification, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s post on the hostile takeover of the LCWR, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


Attempting to advance the ball, the President of the University of Notre Dame drops it…

Let me say very clearly what this lawsuit is not about:  it is not about preventing women from having access to contraception, nor even about preventing the Government from providing such services.  Many of our faculty, staff and students—both Catholic and non-Catholic—have made conscientious decisions to use contraceptives.  As we assert the right to follow our conscience, we respect their right to follow theirs.

This is part of what the President of the University of Notre Dame (UND), the Reverend John Jenkins, CSC, had to say in a statement explaining his decision that UND would file a lawsuit in U.S. District Court for the Northern District of Indiana.  The lawsuit concerns the so-called “Obamacare mandate” promulgated by the Secretary of the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius, who just happens to be a UND honorary degree recipient.

The explanation, posted to Fr. Jenkins’ page on the official UND website, articulates a position that many Catholics are familiar with and take for granted.  That is, as long as in their consciences Catholics believe that conduct contrary to Church moral teaching is moral, they are free to engage in that immoral conduct because they believe it is moral.


The Motley Monk is no moral theologian or canon lawyer, but he is able to read and is saddened in reading Fr. Jenkins’ comments.


Fr. Jenkins contradicts long-standing, Magisterially defined Catholic moral teaching concerning artificial contraception (cf. 1989 Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, “The moral norm of ‘Humanae Vitae’ and pastoral duty“).  In sum, Catholics do not possess a “right” to conscientiously dissent from defined Catholic moral teaching concerning the use of artificial  contraception.  After all, in the Catholic view, “rights” devolve not from man—bolstered by science, theology, and the social sciences or public opinion—but from God.

For a President of a Catholic university or college—especially one who is an ordained priest—to state otherwise promotes a false impression, ultimately creating or furthering serious confusion and ambiguity among the Catholic faithful, in particular. Rather than upholding the Church’s credibility in teaching matters concerning faith and morals, statements like that of Fr. Jenkins only provide ammunition to those who are opposed to the Church’s teaching.

It would have helped Fr. Jenkins had he grasped, in particular, the meaning of the CDF document’s reiteration of Pope Paul VI’s words to priests:

Worth recalling here are the words which Paul VI addressed to priests: “It is  your principal duty—We are speaking especially to you who teach moral theology—to expound the Church’s teaching with regard to marriage in its entirety and with complete frankness. In the performance of your ministry you must be the first to give an example of that sincere obedience, inward as well as outward, which is due to the Magisterium of the Church, For, as you know, the Pastors of the Church enjoy a special light of the Holy Spirit in teaching the  truth (cf. Lumen Gentium, n. 25)” (Humanae Vitae, n. 26).

Priests are called to lead by defending the Church and its moral teaching, calling the faithful to greater fidelity to the truth as defined by the Magisterium.  This is especially true of priests who are appointed to lead Catholic universities and colleges.

While The Motley Monk applauds Fr. Jenkins in his attempt to advance the ball upfield in the U.S. Catholic Church’s current battle with the Obama administration concerning religious liberty, The Motley Monk thinks Fr. Jenkins dropped the ball when it came to his statement explaining his rationale.


And people wonder why the critics contend that U.S. Catholic higher education is “Catholic in Name Only”?



To read Fr. Jenkins’ statement, click on the following link:

To read the CDF document, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


The Obama administration’s attack on religious freedom: The Second Vatican Council’s “spirit of ecumenism” at work…


When he was a seventh grader, The Motley Monk recalls his homeroom teacher, Sr. Gerald Francis, OP, making a matter-of-fact statement that caught The Motley Monk’s attention.

“God will not be mocked,” Sr. Gerald Francis said.

That may very well be what’s playing out in an ironic way in the United States today.


It seems to The Motley Monk that President Obama and HHS Secretary Kathleen Sebelius have done more than many on the Catholic left be might be capable of imagining: They’re fostering the Second Vatican Council’s much-touted “spirit of ecumenism”—and, in particular, a spirit of moral outrage—to refocus the nation upon traditional Christian moral values.

Advancing the Second Vatican Council’s
“spirit of ecumenism”?


Imagine the nation’s Catholic, Baptist, Orthodox Jew, Orthodox Christian, Mormon and other religious leaders gathering in the early 20th century to discuss the state of religious freedom in the United States and to develop a plan to confront this moral malignancy.  They wouldn’t gather to pray!

Yet, according to an article in the Church Report, that’s exactly what happened at the Ethics and Public Policy Center’s American Religious Freedom Program which sponsored a daylong summit on Thursday, May 24th.

The Chairman of the Southern Baptist Convention’s Ethics and Religious Liberty Commission, Richard Land, perhaps expressed best the participants’ sentiments when he said:

We must all be willing to stand up and tell the government “No.”  Secularists don’t like people of faith because the ultimate authority for us is not the state.  The ultimate authority is God.

Of course, detractors will continue to portray the nation’s Catholic bishops as being controlled by a “minority” of conservatives whose primary backers are Curia officials in Rome and whose less-than-thinly-veiled intention is to compel women to submit to Rome’s moral dictates.  Thank you, for more of the “same old, same old” insightful analysis, Mo’.

But, The Motley Monk would note, that’s evidence of a very different agenda—whose specific action items include agitating for abortion, artificial contraception, and women’s ordination—rather than the specific agenda the nation’s Catholic bishops have focused upon: the Obama administration’s unprecedented attack on religious freedom.

Archbishops Lori and Dolan


This broader issue is tangential to that other agenda with its action items.  The focus is the attack upon the freedom of religious groups to hire employees of their choice as well as the rights of orthodox believers to abstain from activities forbidden by their religious beliefs.

The threat is real.  Not just for Catholics but also for those who believe in and uphold traditional Judaeo-Christian morality.

“God won’t be mocked.”

That President Obama and his Catholic HHS Secretary have pushed an anti-traditional Judaeo-Christian moral agenda that advances the Church’s ecumenical agenda would be a “delicious” irony.



To read the article in the Church Report, click on the following link: http://www.thechurchreport.com/index.cfm?fuseaction=siteContent.default&objectID=155162

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


Is the American press anti-Catholic?

While it’s easy to paint any institution—like the press—with the broad brush strokes and to pretend the portrait accurately depicts the entire institution, The Motley Monk thinks it pretty safe to say the general impression of the U.S. public is that the national press is basically liberal in terms of its members’ political leanings and is also generally not balanced when it comes to reporting issues concerning Roman Catholic teaching.

This lack of balance is something liberals and conservatives might actually agree upon.  Liberals because they enjoy having the press report their point of view.  And conservatives because they are angry because they feel cheated because their point of view isn’t being reported.

In light of this broad brush portrait and observation, The Motley Monk was pleasantly surprised to read the ombudsman for the Washington Post, Patrick B. Pexton, taking time in an op-ed to respond directly to the question: “What would lead so many Washington Post readers during the past six months to conclude that the newspaper is anti-Catholic?”

That’s a great question, no?

Pexton’s conclusion—following a bit of the expected institutional self-defense—revealed more than bit of refreshing candor, in The Motley Monk’s opinion.

Concerning the critics’ charge that the Washington Post is anti-Catholic, Pexton wrote:

They have a point. There are deep divisions within the church that Post  reporting should accurately reflect. But sometimes The Post’s reporting and even  editorials fall short in conveying the passion with which many Catholics hold  their views, whether they be against the contraception mandate, gay marriage,  abortion or in favor of aid to the poor. It doesn’t mean that Post reporters or  editorialists have to embrace those views, but they should accurately explain  them in a ways all readers can understand. That, after all, is also part of  getting at the truth.

The Motley Monk thinks Mr. Pexton is absolutely correct.

To be a “free press,” its members will always hold personal opinions—both pro and con—about the various matters they report.  But, if the press is to remain “free” and exercise its “watchdog” function, its members must not be beholden to any particular interest or ideology that would cause any of them to distort the facts they are reporting.

A free press reports the whole and entire truth as it’s currently understood, supporting reportage with all of the relevant facts.

As an institution, perhaps the Washington Post isn’t anti-Catholic.  However, The Motley Monk wasn’t persuaded by Paxton’s institutional self-defense which included the number of Catholics and members of the Catholic hierarchy whose op-ed columns are published in the Washington Post. The number of Catholics who contribute to a newspaper, whether they are liberal or conservative, doesn’t guarantee a newspaper is “getting at the truth.”

Likewise, what guarantees that the Washington Post is “getting at the truth” isn’t that its reporters “get Catholics,” as conservative Catholics as well as the members of the hierarchy at the Archdiocese of Washington and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops opined to Mr. Pexton as he was cobbling together his op-ed.

Getting at the truth requires that every Washington Post reporter—not its op-ed contributors—report the facts.  They mustn’t allow any particular bias to interfere with reporting those facts as objectively as is possible…as is expected of any press that would dare to call itself “free.”



To read Patrick Pexton’s op-ed in the Washington Post, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


So it’s wink and nod…and provide them cover….


In an extraordinarily interesting post at CatholicCulture.org, Phil Lawler raises the question “Is the New York Times protecting dissident priests?”

Lawler’s post is written in response to a New York Times article concerning religious attitudes toward so-called “homosexual marriage”in which the author, Terry Mattingly, noted:

The Roman Catholic Church teaches that homosexual behavior is a sin, but there are Catholic priests who secretly bless gay unions.

That dependent clause contain a bombshell—which Lawler describes as being treated almost as an “afterthought”—and raises a very important issue.  Mattingly observes:

If, in fact, the Times has factual material about Catholic priests blessing same-sex relationships and unions then this is clearly the most important news angle in this piece. This is a major news story, buried deep in a related news report.

However, note that this claim (which I do not doubt, by the way) appears with absolutely no context, no attribution, no clue as to the source of this information. The Times does not even claim to be printing this information based on anonymous sources who requested protection from the Vatican. This is most strange.

Assuming that Mattingly’s article is accurate, Catholic priests are blessing so-called “homosexual marriages.”

That wouldn’t surprise The Motley Monk.  But, if that is the case, Lawler notes:

…these priests are clearly acting in defiance of the Church: the institution they claim to serve. That defiance would constitute a major news story, not merely an observation to be made in passing.

Lawler asks: Why doesn’t the New York Times provide the evidence? After all, that would be news, no?  He adds:

Any Times reporter who actually witnessed a Catholic priest blessing a homosexual union, or heard a credible first-hand report of such an event, should have written a news story about it, and that story should have appeared on the front page. That didn’t happen.

Why not?

Lawler observes that the New York Times may be protecting dissenting priests from ecclesiastical discipline for three possible reasons:

  1. The New York Times reported something as fact when it had no solid evidence. (The Motley Monk thinks “Unlikely.”)
  2. The New York Times had solid evidence, but withheld it because the priests demanded anonymity. (The Motley Monk thinks “Likely.”)
  3. The New York Times knows of priests who have blessed homosexual unions, and those priests did not request.  But, the New York Times decided not to identify them anyway. (The Motley Monk thinks “Perhaps.”)

While Lawler believes the third reason provides the most likely explanation, The Motley Monk doesn’t.  The Motley Monk thinks it more likely that those priests who celebrate so-called “homosexual marriages” requested anonymity.

After all, there are many priests who dissent from a variety of Church teachings.  Think of those who “bless” the marriages divorced persons whose previous marriages haven’t been annulled.  There also are those priests who advise their parishioners that using artificial birth control is “completely moral.”  Then, too, there are those priests who participate at faux Masses celebrated by so-called “women priests.”  Why should it be any different for those priests who believe that so-called “homosexual marriage” should be a sacrament?

What many of these priests who dissent from these Church teachings absolutely don’t want is that their dissent be made public by the New York Times or any other news organization.


It would endanger their status as public ministers of the Roman Catholic Church.

So, it’s wink and nod…and provide dissenting priests cover.

And The Motley Monk wouldn’t be surprised if many of their bishops happen to know it.



To read Phil Lawler’s post at CatholicCulture.org, click on the following link:

To read Terry Mattingly’s article in the New York Times, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


Meet one of the Church militant’s young members…

Watching those “20-something” Occupy Wall Streeters opine time and again on cable television about all that’s wrong with the United States—the fellow Sean Hannity interviewed on his show was particularly disturbing—it’s pretty easy to succumb to the temptation to believe that “every thing’s going to Hell in a hand basket” and the current crop of young adults won’t amount to very much.  In short, the nation’s future is bleak.

But, The Motley Monk thinks, the picture that’s being portrayed by cable television is, at a minimum, a distortion.

For example, consider Miss Delaware 2011, Maria Cahill.  Maria grew up in an Irish Catholic family in Newark, DE, the second oldest of seven children.

As Miss Rehoboth Beach, Maria spoke about her genesis as a pro-life Catholic.



Given her public stature, statements like these have transformed Cahill into a lightning rod for the pro-choice lobby.

According to an interview in Townhall Magazine, she’s accused of being “conservative,” “close-minded,” and “brainwashed” due to her Catholic upbringing.  (The Motley Monk can only recall the statement “Sticks and stones may break my bones, but names will never hurt me.”)  Yet, Cahill maintains that’s completely the opposite of who she is:

That’s the most hurtful thing people could say—like I’m not my own person!  It’s the farthest thing from the truth.

Insofar as The Motley Monk is concerned, Cahill not only “gets it.”  But’s she’s also witnessing to the real war on women that’s being promulgated by the pro-choice lobby.  For Cahill, the root of the problem is that people aren’t focused upon the fact that it’s another life that’s at stake.  She said:

No one likes to think of themselves as selfish.  But whenever those terms get thrown around like “My body, my choice,”  you’re just bringing it all back onto yourself, and, to me, that’s selfish, whether people want to believe it or not.

Worse yet, Cahill believes that selfishness is causing the current assault upon the nation’s unborn:

This topic of abortion and birth control and all these things are so taboo now. And why is that? These young people in high school, its something that we don’t talk about anymore…and I think the reason for this is…is because this is murder we are talking about. You know, people don’t use that word anymore…that’s a bold word…but that’s what it is. It’s murder.”

And it’s bold of Cahill to use the “M” word for what so many others characterize as a “choice” and a “right.”

Maria Cahill
Pro-Life Catholic and
Miss Delaware 2011


As in most things concerning “cable television,” it’s the case that it’s not who’s being interviewed but who’s not being interviewed that’s important.

And, in this regard, The Motley Monk thinks there’s very good reason to be full of hope.  God renews each generation through the Church militant and there are many fine young Catholic adults who belong to it.



To read about Maria Cahill in Townhall Magazine, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


Episcopal Activism: Girls Scouts of the United States

As the Girl Scouts of the United States (GS-USA) celebrates its 100th anniversary, it struck The Motley Monk as somewhat odd to read in the Washington Post that the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) would be launching an official inquiry into the organization.

“Surely something’s awry here,” The Motley Monk thought as he read the headline in the Washington Post.  “They’ve certainly got bigger fish to fry than this.”


Well, it appears, this official inquiry is extremely important.

So, what’s the big problem?

The inquiry is to be conducted by the USCCB’s Committee on Laity, Marriage, Family Life and Youth.  In a March 28, 2012 letter sent to his fellow bishops by the Committee’s Chairman, Bishop Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne, IN, the Committee will be examining the  Girl Scouts’ “possible problematic relationships with other organizations” and  various “problematic” program materials that conflict with Church teaching.

According to a Visiting Fellow in Catholic studies at the Ethics and Public Policy Center, Mary  Rice Hasson, GS-USA has not been responsive to its critics and has been “whitewashing” programs and policies that contradict church teaching.  Hasson said:

They just repeated the Girl Scouts’  denials.  Families’ concerns were minimized or  ignored.

A collision  course is probably a good description of where things are headed.  The leadership of the Girl Scouts is reflexively liberal.  Their board is  dominated by people whose views are antithetical to the teachings of the  Catholic Church.

GS-USA argues that the concerns raised by Catholic critics are recycled complaints that GS-USA has denied repeatedly and categorically.  GS-USA spokeswoman, Michelle  Tompkins, said:

I know we’re  a big part of the culture wars.  People use our good name to advance their own agenda.

For  us, there’s an overarching sadness to it.  We’re just trying to  further girls’ leadership.”

GS-USA maintains that it has no partnership with Planned Parenthood, and doesn’t take positions regarding sexuality, birth control, or abortion.  However, GS-USA is a member of the 145-nation World Association of Girl Guides and Girl  Scouts (WAGGGS) which does maintain that girls  and young women “need an environment where they can freely and openly discuss issues of sex and sexuality.”  WAGGGS also has called for increased access to condoms to protect against sexually transmitted diseases.

Critics allege that GS-USA materials contain links to groups such as Doctors without Borders, the Sierra Club and  Oxfam which support family planning or emergency  contraception.  In addition, EWTN has alleged that an International Planned Parenthood  brochure was made available to girls attending a Girl Scout workshop at a 2010 United Nations event.  The brochure—“Healthy, Happy and Hot”—advised young  people with HIV about how to engage in so-called “safe sex” and to lead sexually active lives.  Lastly, GS-USA offers a patch honoring the Hispanic labor organizer Dolores Huerta, who received an award in 2007 from Planned Parenthood.

The Girl Scouts’ Delores Huerta Patch


It’s estimated that 25% of the 2.3M GS-USA members are Catholic.  If the complaints being lodged against the organization are accurate, the USCCB should be concerned that these materials may be making their way into parish-based Girl Scout troops and investigate whether that’s happening.

It may not be all about selling cookies.

The Motley Monk asks: Why should the bishops not be inquiring into GS-USA?



To read the Washington Post article, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


Forget “Occupy Wall Street”: It’s now “Occupy Anna Maria College”…

Those who follow The Motley Monk might recall an April post in The American Catholic—“What’s A Bishop To Do?

In that post, The Motley Monk discussed how academic administrators at Anna Maria College (AMC)—a small Catholic college located in the Diocese of Worcester (MA) and having close ties to the Diocese—had withdrawn their invitation to the widow of Senator Ted Kennedy, Victoria, to  deliver the institution’s 2012 commencement speech.  The invitation was withdrawn due to the opposition of Bishop Robert J. McManus, who cited Kennedy’s moral views that conflict with Roman Catholic teaching.



For those who thought the story would end there, they thought wrong.

Ensuing controversy over the withdrawal of the invitation to Kennedy is now threatening to mar the event.  Rumors persist that protesters might demonstrate.

Think of the threat as “Occupy Anna Maria.”

Apparently, the threat has AMC’s President, Jack Calareso, and the Chairwoman of the AMC’s Board of Trustees, Sister Yvette Bellerose, so concerned that, according to The  Boston Globe, they recently met at the diocesan offices and politely disinvited Bishop McManus, claiming “the bishop would be a distraction to the event.”

A spokesman for Bishop McManus said: “He was going to  attend, but that’s not going to happen now.”

AMC’s academic administrators subsequently issued a statement indicating that the relationship between AMC and the Diocese of Worcester “remains strong.” In addition, they promise “the two organizations will continue to work together with respect and collegiality to advance the goals and values of quality Catholic education.”


In the world of the politics of Catholic higher education, The Motley Monk would observe, those words are the refrain for the hit tune “Tit for Tat.”



To read The Motley Monk’s post in The American Catholic, click on the following link:

To read the Boston Globe article, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:


The Vatican vs. the “Good Sisters”?

Much of the so-called “analysis” of the Vatican’s hostile takeover of the Leadership Conference of Women Religious (LCWR) focuses upon how “evil bureaucrats” in the Vatican have unilaterally imposed their will upon all of the “good sisters” whose selfless acts of charity personalize the Church in a way that those evil bureaucrats could never personalize it.

"The Pope as a Rotweiller": The consummate Vaticanista

Using what The Motley Monk calls the Vatican’s “hostile takeover” of the LCWR as a case in point, the National Catholic Reporter’s John Allen has written a good article taking to task the first assumption calling it a “classic case in point”:

Insiders have long realized there’s no such animal as “the Vatican” in the sense of an organism that thinks only one thought at a time. The Vatican is instead a complex bureaucracy encompassing a variety of outlooks and instincts, which means it rarely speaks with just one voice on anything.

If Allen’s assessment is correct—and The Motley Monk thinks in this instance that he’s spot on—most people opining about the hostile takeover don’t know what they’re talking about.  Instead, they’re making a political point by constructing a pinata caricaturing what doesn’t exist in reality.  In ethics, this is called the “agentic shift” which seeks to locate responsibility in an organization rather than in the persons making a decision.

Allen is correct in this regard.   “The Vatican” does nothing.  People working for the Vatican do things.  He concludes:

Framing this issue as “the Vatican vs. the nuns,” therefore, is sexy but ultimately misleading.  As always, the question is which Vatican officials, not to mention which nuns, we’re talking about.

Many of those who understand the point Allen is making have reported the long history that has led certain individuals in the Vatican to make a decision to intervene directly in the LCWR.  Allen’s article provides a good summary as does Sandro Magister in his Vatican Diary.  In sum, Allen writes:

The doctrinal assessment of the LCWR and its demands for reforms in LCWR’s statutes, plans, and programs was issued April 18 by the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, led by American Cardinal William Levada.  The other Vatican department that’s part of the picture is the Congregation for Institutes of Consecrated Life and Societies of Apostolic Life, popularly known as the “Congregation for Religious.”  Under church law, primary responsibility for overseeing religious life, including organizations such as LCWR, belongs to the Congregation for Religious [under the aegis of Brazilian Cardinal João Bráz de Aviz and American Archbishop Joseph Tobin].

What interests The Motley Monk about all of this are the charges that led those responsible agents to engage in the business equivalent of a hostile takeover of the LCWR.
As Sandro Magister reports:

Among the accusations that the Holy See makes against the conference of American women religious superiors is the de facto approval of the tendency to go “beyond the Church” and even “beyond Christ,” as theorized in a 2007 talk by Dominican sister Laurie Brink.

Another accusation concerns the resistance of some groups of sisters against accepting the Mass, celebrated by a male priest, as the center of their communal life.

Yet another recalls the opposition of the LCWR, in 1977, to the declaration “Inter Insigniores” approved the previous year by Paul VI, which reiterated the reservation of priestly ordination to men.  A “public refusal”—remarks the document from the congregation for the doctrine of the faith—that subsequently “has never been corrected.”

Assuming the veracity of the charges—and The Motley Monk has no reason to believe they are inaccurate—this is not the stuff of “good sisters” performing important charitable works on behalf of the Church but of a group of like-minded, vowed religious women actively working to remake the Church in their collective image.

There is some talk that the hostile takeover of the LCWR initiated by Pope Benedict XVI will cause its leadership and their sympathetic followers to form a new organization that has no canonical status, thus leaving LCWR—or its successor organization—behind to be run by “the Vatican” and its sycophants.

Since their agenda is basically political in nature to achieve theological objectives, The Motley Monk thinks forming a new organization independent of the Church would be the equivalent of committing “political suicide.”


Withdrawing from the LCWR as the official U.S. representative organization for women religious and forming a distinct, non-canonical organization free of Vatican control would represent a self-inflicted death sentence.  Looking at the ages of these women, the new group will not survive very long and “the Vatican” will prevail.  All the dissenters will have accomplished is to “get up and die.”



To read John Allen’s article in the National Catholic Reporter, click on the following link:

To read Sandro Magister’s article in his “Vatican Diary,” click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link: