The Motley Monk
Once again, there’s a media frenzy. This time it’s been generated by Pope Francis who allegedly has spoken of the existence of a “gay lobby” in the Curia. Rumors had been circulating and, it was alledged, confirmed in a “secret” report Pope Benedict XVI prepared for his successor prior to the conclave. Some in the media also believed the “Gang of Eight” cardinals selected by Pope Francis would address the issue.
The details of what Pope Francis said “off the cuff” to the Conference of Latin American Religious (CLAR) on June 6 are well documented elsewhere, the most oft-cited being “In the Curia…there are holy people….[but also] a current of corruption.” According to notes taken at the meeting and released by some who were present concerning the secret report, the Pope said: “The ‘gay lobby’ is mentioned, and it is true, it is there….We need to see what we can do….”
All of this has become even more complicated with the Catholic News Agency (CNS) reporting today that CLAR officially states that the Pope’s assertion “cannot be attributed with certainty to the Holy Father” (italics added).
As important as those statements rightly or wrongly attributed to Pope Francis and disclosed to the media may be, other statements—some of potentially greater significance—have not been as widely reported.
For example, La Stampa states that Pope Francis also told CLAR’s leaders to “keep moving forward” and not be “afraid to take risks by approaching the poor and new emerging figures across the continent.” That sounds fine. But, place that statement in its larger context:
Perhaps even a letter of the Congregation for the Doctrine (of the Faith) [CDF] will arrive for you, telling you that you said such or such thing….But do not worry. Explain whatever you have to explain, but move forward….Open the doors, do something there where life calls for it. I would rather have a Church that makes mistakes for doing something than one that gets sick for being closed up….
It takes time for the contours of a papacy to take shape. Early into this papacy, much has been made about the Pope’s first appearance at St. Peter’s Basilica and his humility. This “pastoral” Pope has washed feet, kissed babies, visited parishes, and heard confessions. This “Pope of the People” has eschewed living in the Apostolic Palace and is now chauffeured not in a Mercedes Benz but a Volkswagen.
The media loves all of this…and hopes for more, interpreting this Pope’s actions as symbolic of what many in the media long for: A Roman Catholic Church that is more open to and accepting of the forces of what some in the media define as “progress.”
In an attempt to understand more clearly the overall direction the Holy Father intends to steer the ship of the Church in today’s murky waters, The Motley Monk reads the daily homilies Pope Francis has been delivering at St. Marta’s as these are reported by ZENIT.
Overall, the Pope preaches in a style reminiscent of the early Church Fathers, dotting his homilies with folksy applications of scripture to this generation’s moral challenges. He invokes little, if any, “hierarchical” language. Instead, it’s much more “lateral.” There’s no insensitive reiteration of Church teaching “from on high,” but a sensitive response on the part of a pastor who knows his people—having heard their confessions—and speaking candidly about what is afflicting them and keeping them from the Kingdom of God.
In sum: Anecdotes that make the daily Scriptures strike home.
The problem: Others can apply those anecdotes in ways the Holy Father may not have intended.
For example, take the Pope’s statement “do something where life calls for it.” This statement has the potential to open the door to a host of unintended interpretations, especially when what has preceded it is “Explain [to CDF] whatever you have to explain, but move forward….”
Don’t overlook this particular statement because, The Motley Monk is sure, Pope Francis means it.
The question is: What precisely does the Pope mean?
In a homily to his congregation, a pastor can say “I would rather have a Church that makes mistakes for doing something than one that gets sick for being closed up….” The members of the congregation would understand exactly what is meant. Plus, that seems to be sound pastoral teaching.
But, the papacy differs from the local pastorate.
Yes, the pope is the Universal Pastor. Yet, he is also the “Rock,” charged personally by Christ with safeguarding Church teaching. It’s one thing for a local pastor to translate the Beatitudes into acts of compassion for those who live on the margins and to challenge the members of one’s congregation to err in favor of compassion rather than to dictate moral positions. It is an entirely different matter if a pope were to intimate—even in private—that bishops should err on the side of heresy and “Explain whatever you have to explain [to CDF], but move forward… (wink).”
Pope Francis certainly does not mean that.
But, some in the media would have him mean that, and are calling upon the Pope clarify precisely what he means. It’s a “lose-lose” proposition, one that will center upon the legitimacy of and the Pope’s stance vis-a-vis Church teaching.
During the 20th century and early into the 21st, the Holy Spirit has blessed the Church with extraordinarily good, if not saintly popes. The contours of this papacy have yet to be clearly defined. As Pope Francis learns to navigate the Church to confront directly this generation’s moral evils which the media may tout as “progress,” Catholics should pray that the Pope teach as Jesus did, “with authority” that stuns those today in his hearing who “are sick for being closed up” in their secular ideologies and unwilling to listen to the Truth, as the Church teaches it.
To read the article in LaStampa, click on the following link:
To read the CNA account, click on the following link:
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:
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.”
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.”
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?
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).
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.
“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:
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.
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:
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”?
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:
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:
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.
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.”
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
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.
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:
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.
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 Approach, 5th 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:
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.
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:
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.
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.”
Will these facts matter to the American catholic left?
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.
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:
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:
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:
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…
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.
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: