Oath of Fidelity

A New Year’s Resolution for Catholic Colleges

As the new academic year begins for students around the country, a video on Twitter caught my eye: tutors at the new East Coast campus of Thomas Aquinas College recited the Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity at Convocation in front of the College’s students.

“In fulfilling the charge entrusted to me in the name of the Church, I shall hold fast to the deposit of the faith in its entirety,” the tutors proclaimed before Bishop Mitchell Rozanski of the Diocese of Springfield on Aug. 24. “I shall faithfully hand it on and explain it, and I shall avoid any teachings contrary to it.”

What a hopeful and profound way to begin the year!

Thomas Aquinas College, known for its academic rigor and orthodox Catholicism, is now educating students in Northfield, Massachusetts, as well as Santa Paula, California. It joins other faithful New England colleges, including Holy Apostles in Cromwell, Connecticut, Magdalen College of the Liberal Arts in Warner, New Hampshire, and the Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in Merrimack, New Hampshire, in bringing a renewal of Catholic faith and culture to an area of the country that is sorely in need of it.

At Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyoming, on Aug. 25, professors also made their annual Profession of Faith, and new professors made the Oath of Fidelity. The College has told The Cardinal Newman Society: “While we know that this is not strictly required, we wish to go beyond the minimum and demonstrate that all our Catholic faculty are committed to teaching all disciplines ad mentem ecclesiae.”

The profession and oath were made at a Mass celebrated by Bishop Steven Biegler of the Diocese of Cheyenne. He told faculty and students, “The formation of the whole person that Catholic education seeks—body and mind, heart and soul, faith and reason, seeks to form disciples who think and speak and act like Christ.”

Later that afternoon, freshman students also signaled their commitment to faithful Catholic education by signing their names in the official Student Register. “In signing this book,” Acting Dean Kyle Washut told the students, “you are making a public act of trust. You are announcing your intention to trust the Wyoming Catholic College community with your formation over the next four years. We are aware of the solemn duty imposed on us when you give us that trust, and we will honor it.”

The same day, the entire faculty of Christendom College in Front Royal, Virginia, made the Profession of Faith and Oath of Fidelity at a Mass of the Holy Spirit celebrated by Bishop Michael Burbidge of the Diocese of Arlington.

“I want to begin by thanking you and your gifted and talented administration and faculty for providing our students with such a sacred place to continue their education, to deepen their relationship with the Lord, and to grow in Truth and be prepared to articulate that Truth wherever the Lord sends them,” Bishop Burbidge said.

Catholic college presidents, too, are expected to recite the Oath of Fidelity according to canon law. Dr. Timothy Collins, the new president of Walsh University in North Canton, Ohio, recited the oath during the University’s Mass of the Holy Spirit on Aug. 28. Impressively, he was surrounded by members of Walsh’s founding order, the Brothers of Christian Instruction, and University Chaplain Father Thomas Cebula.

“When you think about the Oath of Fidelity, we think about it in terms of a covenant,” said Monsignor John Zuraw, the Mass celebrant and chancellor of the Diocese of Youngstown. “God has established a covenant with each and every one of us. And with any covenant, there are responsibilities. There are values that we hold deep within our very being.”

“As President Collins takes this Oath of Fidelity,” Msgr. Zuraw continued, “he takes it first and foremost to be faithful to God and all that he does and all that he will be. But this Oath of Fidelity also implies a relationship with each and every one of you… that he will do his best to lead this University with values and principles based on the Gospel.”

A public profession of our Catholic faith is an important witness to students and a comforting assurance about the type of education students will be receiving. While the Church does not require it of every professor at a Catholic college, canon law does require that every Catholic theology professor receive the mandatum from the local bishop, by which theologians promise that they will teach in accord with the Church. Often this is accomplished by a Profession of Faith or other similar measure.

Among the faithful colleges recommended in The Newman Guide, all theology professors have the required mandatum, and most take the Oath of Fidelity. Sadly we don’t see this everywhere, but there is an exciting renewal today at a growing number of Catholic colleges. Families seeking assurance of a faithful education have many good options.

Starting out this new academic year on the right foot is a very hopeful sign. Please keep Catholic educators in your prayers, that they will faithfully teach and witness to our students, preparing them to walk with Christ throughout their adult lives.

This article first appeared at The National Catholic Register.

Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul

Yet Another Lawsuit Against the Church

The Archdiocese of Indianapolis is the target of yet another lawsuit — this one from a guidance counselor whose contract to help form students at Roncalli High School was not renewed for the coming school year, because she entered into a same-sex marriage.

With this and other similar disputes in Catholic schools, Archbishop Charles Thompson is clearly under assault. And the same fight is coming to every bishop and every Catholic school and college that courageously upholds the mission of Catholic education — as well as those schools and colleges that carelessly go forward without clear and consistent Catholic policies, thereby opening the doors wide to ideological activists and legal trouble.

Just last month, the Indianapolis archdiocese settled a lawsuit by a teacher who was dismissed from Cathedral High School for his same-sex marriage.

That teacher is legally married to a man who still teaches at Brebeuf Jesuit College Preparatory School, where leaders refuse to comply with archdiocesan policy requiring Catholic school teachers to avoid scandal. Now the school’s leaders have filed a canon law suit with the Vatican, challenging Archbishop Thompson’s episcopal right and duty to determine whether the school may be called Catholic.

In the latest lawsuit filed in federal court last week, plaintiff Lynn Starkey accuses Roncalli High School of discriminating against her because of same-sex attraction. But Starkey was employed at Roncalli for 39 years, and even after she violated her contract by entering into a scandalous, permanent, same-sex commitment, Roncalli did not fire her. Instead, it chose not to renew her contract.

Another counselor at Roncalli, Shelli Fitzgerald, is expected to sue in the next month or two. Fitzgerald was placed on administrative leave last fall, following (you guessed it) her same-sex marriage.

These suits join a growing number of attacks against Catholic schools and colleges across the country, because the Church prescribes morality standards in Catholic education. Why are so many Catholic school and college employees eager to challenge such standards? It may be that the standards are not stated clearly enough, or that they are not consistently applied, so that employees are genuinely surprised to lose their jobs. Surely there is also the hope that courts today are willing to support discrimination claims instead of upholding religious freedom. In Starkey’s case, it is especially astounding that a guidance counselor at a Catholic school could fail to appreciate that teaching and witnessing to Catholic moral principles are essential to her job.

Catholics should not be naïve in thinking that there is anything substantially unique about Indianapolis. Catholic education nationwide faces serious threats from within and without, and too many schools and colleges are insufficiently prepared for the legal battles.

The best thing that school and college leaders can do — immediately, without hesitation — is to ensure that every internal policy and practice is consistent with the formation of students in complete fidelity to Catholic teaching, and that employees embrace this mission without compromise. That makes lawsuits unlikely, resists the corruption of Catholic identity, and allows for a vigorous defense of religious freedom in court.

In the weeks and months ahead, there will be more lawsuits. We must pray for our bishops and school leaders to have the fortitude to make a strong stand for faithful Catholic education. Only if Catholic educators get back to their roots and defend their foundations, will they preserve their most important mission of forming students in the faith.

This article first appeared at The National Catholic Register.

Who Will Defend Catholic Education?

Recent lawsuits by teachers fired from Catholic schools are part of a growing threat to Catholic education. Our schools and colleges increasingly face harmful lawsuits, legislation, the loss of accreditation, and social rejection if they do not fall in line with ideologies that deny the nature of marriage, sexuality, even human life itself.

Catholic education is the Church’s most important means of evangelization. Is every Catholic educator and bishop prepared to defend it?

America once had arguably the world’s strongest network of Catholic education, but enrollment and Catholic identity suffered greatly in recent decades. Many Catholic schools today are easy prey for those who would hollow out Catholic education altogether. In many cases, the danger comes from within the Church.

It was four years ago, when a firestorm erupted in San Francisco, California, as Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone insisted that Catholic school teachers in the Archdiocese publicly uphold the faith, inside and outside of the classroom. He updated teacher contracts and faculty handbooks and created a new Office of Catholic Identity Assessment. Morality language in teacher contracts came as a shock and disappointment to some teachers, but it was applauded by Catholics who value the unique mission of Catholic education.

Now more dioceses are coming under fire from their own school leaders and teachers. A teacher fired from Bishop England High School in Charleston, South Carolina, for publicly defending abortion is suing the school, which is recognized by The Cardinal Newman Society for faithful Catholic education. The leaders of Brebeuf Jesuit College Preparatory School have filed a canon law complaint against Indianapolis Archbishop Charles Thompson, appealing his declaration that the school cannot call itself Catholic. Brebeuf refused to dismiss a teacher in a same-sex marriage; but nearby Cathedral High School, which properly removed a teacher for the same scandal, is now being sued by the teacher.

The Lyceum, a faithful Catholic school also recognized by the Newman Society, successfully fought back a local government threat that could have severely compromised its Catholic identity, based on false claims that Catholic teaching discriminates against people who claim same-sex attraction.

Even the federal Education Department and accrediting agencies pose dangers to Catholic colleges — especially those that are committed to orthodoxy — because of poorly devised diversity and nondiscrimination requirements.

In faithful Catholic education, there can be no compromise on the role of Catholic teachers as witnesses to the faith and the key elements that are expected in Catholic schools. Catholic schools are about the integral formation of students, and teachers play a key role in witnessing and providing a faithful example. Catholic teachers are called to prepare students for sainthood.

According to the bishops’ National Directory for Catechesis (pp. 231, 233), Catholic schools are required to “recruit teachers who are practicing Catholics, who can understand and accept the teachings of the Catholic Church and the moral demands of the gospel, and who can contribute to the achievement of the school’s Catholic identity and apostolic goals.”

If the role of the Catholic teacher is so essential, then it must be protected — not only by fighting lawsuits and legislation, but by doing everything possible internally to ensure that a school or college always acts consistent with Catholic values, which is essential to asserting protection for religious freedom under the First Amendment and various federal and state laws.

A good starting place is for Catholic school leaders to review model language for “morality clauses” in teacher contracts. The Newman Society compiled examples after reviewing the policies of more than 125 dioceses.

Much can be done by lay Catholics also, to help defend and renew faithful Catholic education. When Archbishop Cordileone made strong efforts to change the direction of the schools in his diocese, he faced significant backlash but also had strong and valuable support. When a secular San Francisco newspaper put up an online poll asking if Archbishop Cordileone should be removed from his position — no doubt expecting the majority of respondents to display outrage toward the Archbishop — Catholics turned the poll overwhelmingly in favor of his efforts.

The road ahead for Catholic educators will not be easy, but Catholics everywhere should rally behind and pray for these faithful school leaders. Pray that our bishops and Catholic educators will have the fortitude to insist upon faithful Catholic education, which, when done well, is a great blessing for young people and for our Church.

This article first appeared at The National Catholic Register.

Educators Need More than ‘Male and Female He Created Them’

The Vatican has reasserted one of the most basic facts of Christian anthropology: “Male and Female He created them,” which is good as far as it goes. The question for Catholic educators is, ”Now what?” They are being challenged by the relentless march of “gender theory” or “gender ideology”—a deception that claims that sexual orientation and gender are fluid and self-determined—and they desperately need a path forward.

Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, has described Male and Female He Created Them as a “practical” document, in contrast to the deeper theological reflection expected soon from the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith. But the education document does not give practical guidance to educators on the thorny particulars of admissions, personnel and student policies.

And educators urgently need such guidance, because every week brings another activist, lawmaker or attorney accusing Catholic educators of discrimination for refusing to comply with the dictates of the new gender ideology and a parade of related causes that are wholly contrary to the traditional Catholic understanding of human nature. This is a grave threat to faithful Catholic education.

Consider cases similar to the one in Kansas City, where the Archdiocese turned away a kindergarten student because of same-sex parents. What are the principles that guide Catholic school and college admissions policies? Can Catholic educators and administrators articulate them? Is a student always admitted out of concern for the child, regardless of the parents’ actions and ideology, or should educators consider the influence that adults can have on other children and protect against scandal? Does a school or college accept a child struggling with gender confusion? If so, what message does this send to other students and what pronouns are used, and when? Answer these questions the wrong way, and a school could compromise its Catholic mission or be the target of a lawsuit.

With regard to personnel policies, how does a Catholic school or college respond when a teacher or professor announces a same-sex marriage, declares a new gender identity, or simply insists on embracing aspects of gender ideology? At the Cardinal Newman Society, we have heard from well-intentioned academic leaders who refuse to spell out their policies, instead leaving each situation to their own discretion. That is a recipe for disaster.

In all of these examples, clear standards consistent with traditional Catholic moral and theological norms are key and will help ensure fidelity, compassion and justice.

But there’s another sense in which the truths taught in Male and Female He Made Them need to be developed further to address the practical needs of educators. As noted above, the document’s teaching addresses one of the most basic aspects of human anthropology, the fact that we are created male and female.

Following from that truth and over the centuries, Catholics had developed tried-and-true lessons and habits that helped young people preserve chastity, respect marriage and celebrate children. But in many ways, our culture has forced us to start again from scratch, re-learning simple habits and patterns of male-female relationships.

That means that Catholic educators need to recover and teach to young people these habits and patterns.

For example, not a single faithful Catholic from any generation prior to the 1960s would have doubted that coed dormitories and closed-door visits by the opposite sex in student bedrooms would result in premarital sex, mortal sin, STDs and even sexual assault. Yet most Catholic colleges, with notable exceptions at a few Newman Guide colleges, allow a student to have their boyfriend or girlfriend in their bedroom with the door closed, often after engaging in binge drinking that lowers inhibitions. How many souls have been damaged by these visitation policies that clearly invite near occasions of sin?

Yet when I and my Newman Society colleagues raise the concern of Catholic college dorm policies and near occasions of sin, we are looked upon as relics of a bygone age. I am entirely certain that near occasions of sin are still quite real. What has been lost is our sensitivity to man’s fallen nature and the grave importance of preserving chastity for the good of families and for the good of our souls.

Yes, God created us male and female. It is very good that the Vatican has reasserted this basic truth.

But like mathematicians reasserting fundamental arithmetic, we ought to also understand much more about the natural and moral implications of our sexuality and human nature—and Catholic educators especially need to teach these to the young.

Our problem, of course, is that we Catholics got comfortable compromising on little things when the culture was still reliably Christian. In today’s militantly secular culture, we had better get serious about consistently teaching the truth and remembering fundamentals like 2+2=4, that God created us male and female, and that concupiscence is real. And we had better be able to articulate the principles behind the policies we develop, to uphold Catholic identity before it is too late.

This article was first published at The National Catholic Register.

Lockers in hallway

Fake News About Brebeuf Jesuit School

According to secular news reports about Brebeuf Jesuit High School in Indianapolis, which Archbishop Charles Thompson declared to be no longer Catholic, you’d think the decision was all about the Church’s eagerness to fire a “gay” teacher.

Likewise, articles about Cathedral High School in northeast Indianapolis, which upheld its Catholic identity by dismissing one of its teachers, also emphasize the teacher’s sexuality.

Such is “fake news”—it’s rooted in some fact, but not in truth. In fact, the Indianapolis situation is primarily about a Catholic school’s obligations to teach the faith clearly and without contradiction.

The Indianapolis Star proclaimed, “Indianapolis Archdiocese Cuts Ties with Jesuit School Over Refusal to Fire Gay Teacher.” FOX News claimed Brebeuf was “Stripped of ‘Catholic’ Label Over Gay Teacher.” Newsweek announced that Cathedral “Fires Gay Teacher,” and the USA Today headline likewise reported that Cathedral “Is Firing a Gay Teacher.”

And now, a New York Times contributor has lectured the bishops on the need to defend our “L.G.B.T.Q. brothers and sisters.” The article is titled, “How to Defy the Catholic Church.”

To be sure, at both Brebeuf and Cathedral the teachers under scrutiny are identified as “gay”—but what caused the controversy is not that directly, but instead their public actions contradicting what they are supposed to be teaching in a Catholic school. Both entered into civilly approved same-sex marriages. Such public scandal makes someone ineligible to teach in a genuinely Catholic school, and this would be true of scandal leading children into any type of grave sin, whether homosexual or otherwise.

Indeed, both teachers had been employed despite apparent awareness of their sexuality, so the claim of discrimination is ludicrous. Public identification as “gay” can be scandalous, if sexuality is touted in such a way as to lead young people into sin. But this is not why the Archdiocese of Indianapolis raised concerns about the teachers at Brebeuf and Cathedral, and apparently no employee’s job was at risk because of private struggles with sexuality.

Still, the secular media and activists like Jesuit Fr. James Martin have deliberately characterized the Archdiocese as targeting people for their “sexual identity.” This falsehood stirs up the crowd to persecute the Body of Christ, with claims of discrimination and attempts to erode religious freedom.

Witnesses to the Faith

Such discrimination claims are wrong. Central to Brebeuf’s tragic loss of Catholic identity are the school’s failure to insist that teachers publicly witness to the Catholic faith, its betrayal of families who rely on Catholic education to uphold Catholic teachings, and the school’s refusal to abide by the rightful authority of Archbishop Thompson to establish expectations for Catholic schools in his diocese.

A Catholic school exists for the purpose of forming young people for the fullness of humanity, all that God intends for them. This includes formation in the Catholic faith, indeed in all truth about God, man and reality.

It is essential, then, that teachers in Catholic schools present the truth clearly in both word and deed. Their witness can powerfully reinforce Christian formation—or it can be dangerously destructive by misleading a child into falsehood.

This can be a real challenge for Catholic schools in a highly secularized and sexualized society, in which even well-intentioned Catholic teachers are confused about moral truth and may be poorly catechized.

“In today’s pluralistic world, the Catholic educator must consciously inspire his or her activity with the Christian concept of the person, in communion with the Magisterium of the Church” (Lay Catholics in Schools: Witnesses to Faith, 1982, 18). An authentic Christian anthropology, of course, recognizes only two sexes and understands sexuality in the context of chastity and matrimony between a man and woman.

While a Catholic school is a Christian community full of mercy and compassion for its members who may struggle to live good and holy lives, it is essential to the work of the school that teachers not publicly challenge or contradict the Catholic faith in which students are being formed.

Canon law is clear: “The instruction and education in a Catholic school must be grounded in the principles of Catholic doctrine; teachers are to be outstanding in correct doctrine and integrity of life” (Canon 803 §2). It is essential that Catholic schools explain to employees precisely what that means, by including “morality clauses” in teacher contracts. The Cardinal Newman Society compiled model language here that can be adopted by individual schools and dioceses.

A lesson for teachers

In his announcement that Brebeuf is no longer Catholic, Archbishop Thompson has reaffirmed what the Church has always expected from Catholic schools. And Brebeuf’s consequence was not caused by the bishop: it was the school leaders’ decision not to comply with the Archbishop’s requirements for all Catholic schools, and they chose to stand with the teacher in public contradiction to the Catholic faith. Cooperating with such public contradiction implies dissent, whether or not the school’s leaders actually agree or disagree with Church teaching.

In the past, Catholic schools were largely staffed by clergy and religious. Although there remain some priests, brothers and sisters — notably the Dominican Sisters of Mary, Mother of the Eucharist and the Nashville Dominicans who set such a wonderful example — they make up less than 3 percent of America’s Catholic school teachers.

Therefore, in the last several decades it’s been up to the laity to take up evangelization by Catholic education, serving as ministers of the faith in word and deed. Archbishop Thompson recognizes the influential role that teachers play in the formation of students.

No teacher in a Catholic schools is sinless. But teachers should do everything possible to grow in virtue and avoid scandal, with special attention to persistent, public scandals that are most damaging to students. Catholic schools should ensure that they have qualified teachers who are able to fulfill the job of aiding parents in the formation of young people in the Catholic faith.

Archbishop Thompson provides a good reminder for Catholic school teachers everywhere about the importance of their vocation. Teachers have a crucial role to play in imitating Jesus Christ, the true Teacher, to communicate Truth and sanctify the world.

This article was first published at The National Catholic Register.

Fr Theodore Hesburgh

Pride on Full Display in ‘Hesburgh’ Documentary

The mere fact that the laudatory, even triumphal, documentary Hesburgh will enjoy a limited release in theaters beginning today would no doubt have been deeply satisfying to the late Holy Cross Father Theodore Hesburgh, who led the University of Notre Dame (1952-1987) to enormous growth and prestige.

From beginning to end, the film makes the obvious point that Father Hesburgh was important and accomplished much on a human scale. Notre Dame’s enrollment, public reputation, academic standing, physical campus and donor support all improved considerably under his leadership.

He was also an influential leader on some of the most important issues of his time, especially civil rights for African Americans. The film’s images include a myriad of leaders — popes, U.S. presidents, celebrities and others — with whom Father Hesburgh associated, collaborated and sometimes clashed.

But the documentary largely glosses over important questions about Father Hesburgh’s thinking and impact and his conflicts with Church leaders, doctrine and the mission of Catholic education. It simply reports — without any real analysis and in a decidedly favorable way — his leadership in crafting the Land O’ Lakes Statement that declared the independence of Catholic colleges from the bishops and magisterium of the Church, his legal separation of the university from the Holy Cross order (thus increasing his own independence from religious superiors), his embrace of a radicalized “academic freedom” in the manner of modern research universities, and his delight in Notre Dame’s 2009 commencement honors for pro-abortion President Barack Obama.

Even while the film champions Father Hesburgh’s determination to engage with all viewpoints, the filmmakers shy away from any serious examination of charges that he had in some ways betrayed the Church and the mission of Catholic education. It’s not even acknowledged that 83 Catholic bishops publicly opposed the Obama honors.

The film also fails to address the morally serious concern that Father Hesburgh, through his work with the Rockefeller Foundation, and together with his Notre Dame colleagues, quietly advanced a population control and family planning agenda. Or that he relied on Father Richard McBrien to reform the Notre Dame theology department as a center of liberal theology. Or that, when Cardinal John O’Connor of New York publicly scolded New York politicians, Gov. Mario Cuomo and congresswoman Geraldine Ferraro, both Catholics, for their public advocacy of abortion rights, Father Hesburgh welcomed the New York governor to Notre Dame for a landmark speech that claimed a “latitude in judgment” within Catholic teaching that permits a Catholic to privately hold that abortion is unjust killing while publicly championing laws that keep it legal, out of respect for others who disagree with our beliefs. These facts, highly relevant to Father Hesburgh’s pursuit of a “great Catholic university,” are simply ignored in more than two hours of film.

Rather, the documentary features multiple tributes from mostly “progressive Catholics” who include former students and colleagues at Notre Dame, writers from the National Catholic Reporter, and even House Speaker Nancy Pelosi. It all has the feel and the gloss of an episode of Lifestyles of the Rich and Famous. Viewers are invited to indulge in awe and envy.

‘A Great Catholic University’

A deeper and more honest assessment would have acknowledged that Father Hesburgh’s legacy is complicated and has in fact done significant damage to the university that he strove to build and to the Church in the United States to which he gave his life in service.

Father Hesburgh was driven to transform Notre Dame into a “great Catholic university” built on human “excellence,” as the film mentions briefly. But how that pursuit evolved over his 35 years at the helm of Notre Dame — and influenced subsequent University leaders — is far better explained in the new biography, American Priest: The Ambitious Life and Conflicted Legacy of Notre Dame’s Father Ted Hesburgh (Image, 2019) by Holy Cross Father Wilson Miscamble. Father Miscamble has taught at Notre Dame for more than 30 years and is a vocal advocate for restoring what he and many perceive as Notre Dame’s lost Catholic identity, and so he searches for clues to why that identity slipped under Father Hesburgh’s leadership. But as a serious historian, he also is careful to report facts objectively and thoroughly.

For instance, Father Miscamble provides the surprising revelation that during Father Hesburgh’s first term in the 1950s, he publicly embraced a vision of Catholic higher education that resembled Blessed John Henry Newman’s Idea of a University. Nevertheless, Father Hesburgh’s actual emphasis in building up Notre Dame was on raising funds, building Notre Dame’s reputation through association with prominent academic and public figures, and transforming the university in the image of the secular research institution.

According to Father Miscamble, Father Hesburgh gave very little attention to ensuring an integrated Catholic curriculum and a faithfully Catholic faculty — resulting in a dramatic slide toward secular education that continues today.

Father Miscamble’s biography portrays a priest who had incredible natural leadership abilities but failed to rely on God’s grace and the Church’s timeless wisdom. It would have been a truly remarkable witness for Father Hesburgh to have brought Notre Dame to greater acclaim while also amplifying the university’s Catholic identity. After all, if the Catholic faith really is transcendental — true, beautiful and good — then doesn’t it have the power to attract?

Instead, Father Hesburgh’s career as president appears to have been an exercise of misplaced pride in human achievement, especially his own capabilities, and greater faith in state and secular institutions than the goodness of the Church.

Father Hesburgh was a prayerful priest who celebrated Mass daily and had a devotion to Mary, yet in his presidency he had this air of “going it alone” and failing to appreciate Catholic education as fundamentally an encounter with Christ.

In Hesburgh, he states plainly, “There had to be a way to balance faith and academics” — as if the two are in conflict. Again, he asks: “Was it possible to be both a great university and Catholic? I believed it was as long as there was balance.”

Because of his failure to acknowledge the Catholic faith as truth that is fundamental, not opposed, to the academic enterprise, Father Hesburgh’s impressive human achievements have today resulted in the sort of unintended confusion and lack of structural integrity that befell the builders at Babel.

Perhaps without intending to, director Patrick Creadon highlights Father Hesburgh’s unsettling certainty of the wisdom of his actions and opinions — even those in opposition to the Church — by including a voice-over by actor Maurice LaMarche, who pretends to be Father Hesburgh recounting his own tale using actual quotes from Hesburgh’s writings and recordings. The device is awkward for a film that is something of a congratulatory eulogy for the priest, who died in 2015. Right or wrong, LaMarche’s tone makes Father Hesburgh seem rather smug.

I am rather sure the makers of Hesburgh would not agree with Father Miscamble’s assessment of Father Hesburgh’s legacy, but at least an assessment is made in American Priest. In the documentary, there is no movement beyond the Hesburgh “hagiography” (a term suggested by Father Miscamble) that seems to prevail within the Notre Dame community.

Clearly Father Theodore Hesburgh had enormous influence across the Church and U.S. society. His choices had real consequences for Notre Dame and Catholic education nationwide.

While Hesburgh presents an intriguing look at the many important activities of an important man, his legacy is left to more serious biographers like Father Miscamble to straighten out.

This article was first published at The National Catholic Register.

Catholics Should Be Wary of ‘Elite’ Colleges

Lately we’ve been hearing about a college admissions scandal and FBI raids of parents’ homes. But Catholic families may be being cheated by an even bigger fraud.

The news is abuzz about indicted celebrities who abused the power of their wealth to get children into prestigious colleges, ahead of deserving students. It’s a classic American scandal, pitting the wealthy against the little guy.

But there’s more to it than that. “If education is what the beast says it is, a mere means to the end of greater wealth and prestige, then what these parents did makes perfect sense,” writes scholar Benjamin Myers at First Things. “…Many of those outraged by the behavior of these celebrity parents share the foundational assumptions that make sense of such actions—that the point of education is not to ‘get wisdom,’ in the words of Proverbs, but to gain prestige. The parents who bribed their kids’ way into college were just feeding the beast, the same as everybody else.”

In other words, Catholic families who aspire for their children to attend college to obtain a ticket to success instead of forming their minds, hearts and spirits are missing the point of college—at least what the Church deems worthy of young Catholic students.

More than the bribery scandal, the greater fraud in American academia is the pretense that “elite” colleges still have the value they had just a lifetime ago, let alone the value that the great universities had centuries ago. For many big-name universities today, their reputations were built in another time and on another sort of education.

Modern secular education

To be sure, elite universities offer many advantages to their students. They are able to hire brilliant professors, sometimes including prominent Catholics like Robert George at Princeton and Mary Ann Glendon at Harvard. They often have vast resources for research, facilities, libraries, etc. And a diploma from an elite institution can be a ticket to wealth, success and distinction.

These are valuable in their own right, and there are many factors in choosing a college that may lead a student to attend a secular institution—or worse, a corrupted and highly secularized Catholic institution. But Catholics need to be aware and highly cautious about the rest of the baggage that comes with most of modern higher education—especially our “prestigious” universities.

Today many are dominated by identity politics and political correctness, instead of rational dialogue and reasoned argument. Studies tend to be either career-centered, with an emphasis on practical training, or narrow and biased distortions of the liberal arts. The campus life is morally toxic and frequently corrupts the souls of students.

Most important, they lack Christianity. In our secular age, it’s understandable that most students don’t value the insights of Christianity on science, history, the arts and humanity. But Catholic families should value them above all.

Newman’s vision

Blessed John Henry Newman, the 19th-century theologian and educator who will be canonized later this year, argued rightly that the only complete college is a faithfully Catholic one. That’s because higher education should be open to all truth and committed to integrating all truth—thus the word “university.”

At a faithfully Catholic college, the knowledge that is revealed to us by Christ and His Church rightly informs every other branch of study, makes it richer, and opens our eyes to greater understanding. A college that rejects and excludes Christian truth is a lesser college.

Higher education should not be focused primarily on accumulating facts and skills, although that’s the emphasis of most college learning today. Newman said he didn’t care much what subjects a student studied, as long as he learned to reason well, organized and prioritized knowledge, solved problems, and acquired wisdom.

And a higher education is not just about academics—it’s about forming young people to fulfill everything that God desires for them, to become more fully human. A faithful Catholic college like those recommended in The Newman Guide teach not only wisdom but also virtue, and they form students in the Faith and the Sacraments. They attend to campus life outside the classroom and lead students on the path to holiness. This is not contrary to learning, but central to it.

Sadly, many of the elite Catholic colleges like those involved in the admissions scandals—Georgetown University and the University of San Diego—have moved away from this sort of valuable education, even while resting their reputations on the excellent education that they once provided.

Even the Ivy League institutions once understood the value of a faithful, integrated education. Did you know that most Ivy League universities began as Christian institutions? For decades now, they have compromised their original mission, yet they retain their prestige in the eyes of the world.

A faithful Catholic college… now that’s an education worth reaching for! But don’t try bribing admissions officials to get in.

This article was originally published at the National Catholic Register.

Georgetown University

‘Christian’ Abortionist Lectures at Georgetown

Last Wednesday—as pro-lifers from around the country began pouring into Washington, D.C., for the annual March for Life, including thousands of Catholic high school students and college students—Georgetown University hosted a lecture by abortionist Willie Parker.

According to College Fix, the event was co-sponsored by H*yas for Choice, a pro-abortion student club that Georgetown does not officially recognize but nevertheless gives almost free rein on campus. It was also sponsored by the University’s officially recognized Lecture Fund and College Democrats.

Parker is an active abortionist, killing innocent babies in Alabama, Georgia, Illinois, Mississippi, and Pennsylvania. He is also an outspoken activist for abortion rights—the apparent reason for his lecture—as chairman of Physicians for Reproductive Health and the author of Life’s Work: A Moral Argument for Choice. He received NARAL’s Champions of Choice award and Planned Parenthood’s Margaret Sanger Award.

At Georgetown, Parker reportedly cited Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr., and Jesus Christ’s parable of the Good Samaritan to explain to students how he discovered “a moral and ethical obligation to provide abortion care.”

“I broke through the cocoon of religious custom that held me bound,” he boasted.

Moreover, Parker reportedly defended even the most gruesome methods of abortion, declaring, “No procedure should be politicized and prohibited to the peril and detriment of someone for whom that procedure might be vital to have.”

College Fix spoke to a leader of H*yas for Choice, who justified Parker’s lecture as a counterbalance to the annual Cardinal O’Connor Conference on Life, a pro-life student event at Georgetown that occurs around the March for Life. The O’Connor Conference is certainly a credit to Georgetown, but it hardly outweighs the many documented scandals, including blatant abortion advocacy.

Three years ago, Georgetown appalled faithful Catholics by hosting a lecture by Cecile Richards, then-president of Planned Parenthood. The Archdiocese of Washington publicly opposed the lecture.“What we lament and find sadly lacking in this choice by the student group is any reflection of what should be an environment of morality, ethics and human decency that one expects on a campus that asserts its Jesuit and Catholic history and identity,” the Archdiocese said in a statement.

The Archdiocese should be doubly concerned about an active abortionist—a man who not only worked as medical director for Planned Parenthood Metropolitan Washington, D.C., but who by his own hands destroys innocent babies in the womb and then is welcomed at the nation’s oldest Catholic university to preach to students about the “Christianity” of his practice.

This is blasphemy of the worst kind, to claim belief in Christ as a defense for abortion. It is certainly not Catholic education! Catholic families should recognize this and seek out colleges that faithfully and consistently uphold Catholic teaching and the dignity of human life.

This article was first published at The National Catholic Register.

Are Jesuits Proud of Their Pro-Abortion Alumni?

As the 116th Congress began in January, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) trumpeted the surprising fact that more than 10 percent of the U.S. Congress—55 of 535 members in the House and Senate—graduated from American Jesuit institutions.

But in their widely reported press release, the Jesuit educators also displayed a callous disregard for the moral formation of these graduates, most of whom actively work against the Church on today’s most important human rights issue: the right to life.

Upon reading news reports about the Jesuit alumni in Congress, my immediate question on Twitter (@NewmanSocPres) was almost reflexive: “Are they pro-life?”

I don’t really expect them to be, given the direction of Jesuit higher education and the many pro-abortion scandals on their campuses, including the recent lecture by an abortionist touting the Christian virtue of his practice at Georgetown University. But of what value is Catholic education if its graduates are not formed well in faith and morals, the most basic of which is respect for life? Could we at least expect that from highly secularized but officially Catholic colleges?

Moreover, it seems strange that even the most faithful Catholic news media didn’t evaluate the voting records of these alumni before touting the 10 percent-in-Congress statistic as—it probably seemed to most readers—good news for Catholics and a reason to attend Jesuit colleges.

It’s not good news! And it’s yet another piece of evidence that these colleges are having a detrimental impact on society instead of advancing Catholic thought and culture.

Pro-abortion voting records

I reviewed the voting records of the 55 Jesuit-educated senators and representatives using the pro-life scorecard published by National Right to Life (NRLC). If we combine NRLC scores for the 115th Congress (2017-2018) and the 114th Congress (2015-2016) for the 47 Jesuit college alumni who voted in one or both of those years, then we find that only eight of them voted pro-life 100 percent of the time. (God bless them!)

On the other hand, 36 of the alumni had NRLC scores of zero. That means that they voted 100 percent of the time against pro-life objectives.

Three others had mixed records:

Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska managed to get a 44 percent pro-life rating, largely because she voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. But Murkowski voted against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (prohibiting abortions before 20 weeks of gestation) and supported funding for Planned Parenthood.

Sen. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania scored just 18 percent. He supported the 20-week ban, but he repeatedly voted for Planned Parenthood funding.

Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas had a mixed record of 43 percent. He claims to be pro-life but opposed efforts to reduce funding to Planned Parenthood.

Seven of the alumni are new to the House of Representatives and had no voting record in the last two Congressional sessions. But according to statements made during their campaigns, it appears that five strongly support legalized abortion and only two are pro-life:

Gil Cisneros (California): As a candidate, Cisneros strongly defended “women’s right to choose” and funding for Planned Parenthood.

Greg Pence (Indiana): The Catholic brother of Vice President Mike Pence ran for Congress on a pro-life platform.

Mikie Sherrill (New Jersey): Endorsed by the abortion lobby NARAL, Sherrill said she was “proud to stand with NARAL and the work they do to protect the rights of women.”

Xochitl Torres Small (New Mexico): The former Planned Parenthood employee supports funding for abortion and even opposes limits on late-term abortions.

Greg Stanton (Arizona): While mayor of Phoenix, Stanton urged Congress to fund Planned Parenthood and co-chaired a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.

Bryan Steil (Wisconsin): The pro-life candidate was endorsed by Wisconsin Right to Life.

Lori Trahan (Massachusetts): Candidate Trahan vowed to fight “bans on abortion, bans on private and public insurance coverage of abortion, and the frequent attempts to regulate abortion providers out of existence.”

These campaign positions were upheld last month, when the U.S. House voted to overturn President Trump’s ban on foreign aid to pro-abortion organizations. Only Pence and Steil voted against it, while the other five Jesuit college alumni who are new to Congress voted for it.

Delegate Stacey Plaskett, another of the Jesuit college alumni, is a nonvoting House member from the Virgin Islands and has no voting record. But last year, Plaskett made a commitment to NARAL to fight to keep abortion legal across the United States.

Not ashamed?

The final tally: only 10 of the 55 Jesuit college alumni are clearly pro-life, 42 are strongly pro-abortion, and three have mixed records that are unworthy of anyone who had a Catholic education.

If the Jesuits think that their 10 percent representation in Congress is so significant as to warrant public celebration, then why are they not ashamed that 82 percent of those alumni oppose the Church on such important issues as abortion and taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood?

Or to put it another way: Why does secular prestige appear to be more important to the Jesuit colleges than the slaughter of innocent babies?

Below is the tally for the Jesuit college alumni, with details from the AJCU:

Sen. John Barrasso (WY) – NRLC rating 100
B.A. Georgetown U. (1974), M.D. Georgetown U. (1978)

Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr. (PA) – NRLC rating 18
B.A. Coll. of the Holy Cross (1982)

Sen. Richard J. Durbin (IL) – NRLC rating 0
B.S.F.S. Georgetown U. (1966), J.D. Georgetown U. (1969)

Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Georgetown U. (1978)

Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (VT) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Georgetown U. (1964)

Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (NV) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Gonzaga U. (1990)

Sen. Edward J. Markey (MA) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Boston Coll. (1968), J.D. Boston Coll. (1972)

Sen. Robert Menendez (NJ) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Saint Peter’s U. (1976)

Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK) – NRLC rating 44
B.A. Georgetown U. (1980)

Sen. Gary Peters (MI) – NRLC rating 0
M.B.A. U. of Detroit Mercy (1984)

Sen. Dan Sullivan (AK) – NRLC rating 100
J.D.-M.S.F.S. Georgetown U. (1993)

Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Jr. (MD) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Georgetown U. (1990)

Rep. Vern Buchanan (FL) – NRLC rating 100
M.B.A. U. of Detroit Mercy (1986)

Rep. David Cicilline (RI) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Georgetown U. (1986)

Rep. Gil Cisneros (CA) – elected 2018
M.B.A. Regis U. (2002)

Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX) – NRLC rating 43
B.S.F.S. Georgetown U. (1978)

Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (CT) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Marymount Coll. (now part of Fordham U.) (1964)

Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Coll. of the Holy Cross (1974)

Rep. Debbie Dingell (MI) – NRLC rating 0
B.S.F.S. Georgetown U. (1975), M.A.L.S. Georgetown U. (1998)

Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (NE) – NRLC rating 100
M.P.P. Georgetown U. (1986)

Rep. Lois Frankel (FL) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Georgetown U. (1973)

Rep. Mike Gallagher (WI) – NRLC rating 100
M.A. Georgetown U. (2012 & 2013), Ph.D. Georgetown U. (2015)

Rep. Paul Gosar (AZ) – NRLC rating 100
B.S. Creighton U. (1981), D.D.S. Creighton U. (1985)

Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (IN) – NRLC rating 100
M.P.P. Georgetown U. (2014)

Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (MD) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Georgetown U. (1966)

Rep. Jared Huffman (CA) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Boston Coll. (1990)

Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Georgetown U. (1986)

Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY) – NRLC rating 0
M.P.P. Georgetown U. (1994)

Rep. William Keating (MA) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Boston Coll. (1974), M.B.A. Boston Coll. (1982)

Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (NH) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Georgetown U. (1984)

Rep. Ted Lieu (CA) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Georgetown U. (1994)

Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Santa Clara U. (1975)

Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Boston Coll. (1991)

Rep. Gwen Moore (WI) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Marquette U. (1978)

Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL) – NRLC rating 0
M.S.F.S. Georgetown U. (2004)

Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Fordham U. (1978)

Rep. Jimmy Panetta (CA) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Santa Clara U. (1996)

Rep. William J. Pascrell, Jr. (NJ) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Fordham U. (1959), M.A. Fordham U. (1961)

Rep. Greg Pence (IN) – elected 2018
B.A. Loyola U. Chicago (1979), M.B.A. Loyola U. Chicago (1983)

Delegate Stacey Plaskett (VI) – nonvoting member
B.S.F.S. Georgetown U. (1988)

Rep. Michael Quigley (IL) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Loyola U. Chicago (1989)

Rep. Francis Rooney (FL) – NRLC rating 100
B.A. Georgetown U. (1975) , J.D. Georgetown U. (1978)

Rep. Robert C. Scott (VA) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Boston Coll. (1973)

Rep. Mikie Sherrill (NJ) – elected 2018
J.D. Georgetown U. (2007)

Rep. Albio Sires (NJ) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Saint Peter’s U. (1974)

Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (NM) – elected 2018
B.A. Georgetown U. (2007)

Rep. Adam Smith (WA) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Fordham U. (1987)

Rep. Greg Stanton (AZ) – elected 2018
B.A. Marquette U. (1992)

Rep. Bryan Steil (WI) – elected 2018
B.S. Georgetown U. (2003)

Rep. Tom Suozzi (NY) – NRLC rating 0
B.S. Boston Coll. (1984), J.D. Fordham U. (1989)

Rep. Lori Trahan (MA) – elected 2018
B.A. Georgetown U. (1995)

Rep. Juan C. Vargas (CA) – NRLC rating 0
M.A. Fordham U. (1987)

Rep. Filemon Vela (TX) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Georgetown U. (1985)

Rep. Peter J. Visclosky (IN) – NRLC rating 0
L.L.M. Georgetown U. (1982)

Rep. Peter Welch (VT) – NRLC rating 0
A.B. Coll. of the Holy Cross (1969)

This article was first published at the National Catholic Register.

Gonzaga University

While Vatican Meets, Catholic Colleges Celebrate Sexual Abuse

Even while the Vatican meets to address sexual abuse by Catholic priests, students at U.S. Catholic colleges will stage theatrical performances that glorify—with explicitly religious language—an adult’s creepy and manipulative seduction of a 16-year-old.

It’s an outrage, especially given the similarity of the play to the abuse of young boys and men, and in some cases girls, by many Catholic priests. Yet Catholic colleges have repeated this celebration of sexual abuse and perversion for 20 years.

Will any Catholic college leader apologize for The Vagina Monologues? Every year, just as the Church approaches the holy season of Lent, Catholic college students—and the faculty departments and college leaders who enable their performances—continue to perform this play and dance on the broken souls of sexual abuse victims.

I am proud that The Cardinal Newman Society has led the fight against The Vagina Monologues on Catholic campuses. Shame on those who have allowed and even defended it!

Every spring, usually around Saint Valentine’s Day, colleges nationwide host the Monologues, a vile play in which a character reminisces happily about her own sexual abuse while a troubled 16-year-old. She recalls how a 24-year-old woman plied her with alcohol then had sexual relations with her. But instead of condemning the act, the victim declares the rape her “salvation” that “raised her into a kind of heaven”—a claim that glorifies homosexual predation.

This resembles many of the crimes involving Catholic priests. And we know from victims’ testimony the severe harm and anguish—not heavenly bliss!—that is caused by such abuse.

Moreover, the age of consent for sexual activity is 17 or 18 in 20 states, which means The Vagina Monologues promotes statutory rape. The play originally had the girl at 13 years old, stating defiantly, “If it was a rape, it was a good rape.” The playwright, Eve Ensler, later dropped the line admitting rape and changed the character’s age to 16 to match the legal age of consent for sexual activity in many states. Still, the play clearly describes a rape.

At Least Eight Colleges This Year

Performances of the Monologues at Catholic colleges began in 1999 and peaked at 32 campuses in 2003, according to the Newman Society’s annual tally. Thankfully, the number has declined as the novelty of the play for students has diminished and Catholic leaders have condemned the play.

One of the most forceful critiques was published in 2008 by former Bishop John D’Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend, who opposed performances at the University of Notre Dame:

While claiming to deplore violence against women, the play at the same time violates the standards of decency and morality that safeguard a woman’s dignity and protect her, body and soul, from sexual predators… The play depicts, exalts and endorses female masturbation, which is a sin. It depicts, exalts, and endorses a sexual relationship between an adult woman and a child, a minor, which is a sin and also a crime. It depicts and exalts the most base form of sexual relationship between a man and a woman. These illicit sexual actions are portrayed as paths to healing, and the implication is that the historic, positive understanding of heterosexual marriage as the norm is what we must recover from.

But still today—even amid the worsening crisis of clergy abuse and cover-up, implicating even the most prominent bishops—some Catholic colleges persist in the scandal of hosting and even sponsoring The Vagina Monologues. Two colleges will brazenly host the play at the same time that the Vatican holds its conference on sex abuse from Feb. 21-Feb. 24.

The Newman Society has confirmed performances on eight Catholic campuses, with others likely. Confirmed performances include:

  • Boston College (Chestnut Hill, Massachusetts): The Vagina Monologues is on the public events calendar of the Jesuit College’s Robsham Theater Arts Center for Valentine’s Day, with repeat performances on Friday and Saturday, Feb. 15 and 16.
  • College of the Holy Cross (Worcester, Massachusetts): According to the Facebook page of the Feminist Forum, a Monologues performance is scheduled on the Jesuit college campus on Wednesday, Feb. 13.
  • DePaul University (Chicago, Illinois): The Vincentian university hosted its 20th annual production of the Monologues with four on-campus performances between Feb. 7 and Feb. 10.
  • Gonzaga University (Spokane, Washington): The Jesuit university’s performance of the Monologues—open to the public for the first time—is scheduled for Valentine’s Day. It is sponsored by the Theatre and Dance Department.
  • Holy Names University (Oakland, California): By email to the Newman Society, the organizer of several “information sessions” about The Vagina Monologues confirmed that a public performance is scheduled on Thursday, Feb. 21, at the College’s Valley Center for Performing Arts. The College is affiliated with the Sisters of the Holy Names of Jesus.
  • Loyola University Maryland (Baltimore, Maryland): Sponsored by the Gender and Sexuality Studies Department, the Monologues will be performed on the Jesuit university’s campus on Valentine’s Day and Friday, Feb. 15.
  • Regis College (Weston, Mass.): The College sponsored by the Sisters of St. Joseph will host the Monologues on campus on Friday, Feb. 22, and Saturday, Feb. 23.
  • Xavier University (Cincinnati, Ohio): The Monologues will be performed on Saturday, March 2—the last weekend before Lent begins—at the Jesuit university. It will be sponsored by the Theatre Department.

In addition, according to a student Facebook page, auditions for the Monologues were held at the Jesuit Loyola University of Chicago on Feb. 6 and 7. No performance date was announced.

On its website, V-Day also claims that performances are scheduled at three other Catholic colleges which could not be verified. In an email to the Newman Society on Monday, a Merrimack College spokesman said that he is unaware of any plans for a performance, despite campus performances in prior years and a V-Day announcement indicating that proceeds will be donated to Planned Parenthood Boston.

Gonzaga Doubles Down

Perhaps the most astonishing of this year’s performances of The Vagina Monologues is that at Gonzaga University.

In 2002, when most Catholics first became aware of the sexual abuse cover-ups in the Archdiocese of Boston and elsewhere, Gonzaga’s Jesuit president rightly banned the play from campus. Father Robert Spitzer, S.J., was especially offended by the play’s celebration of rape. He said that the play is opposed to the “Catholic and Christian view of marriage.”

That ban was reversed in 2011 by Father Spitzer’s successor, Thayne McCulloh, who remains president of Gonzaga today. The 2011 performance was sponsored by the English Department, Honors Program, Institute for Hate Studies, Sociology Department, and Women and Gender Studies Program.

But the Monologues did not return to Gonzaga until this year—of all years, given the new revelations of sex abuse and cover-up. Moreover, this will be the very first time that Gonzaga invites the public to share in its celebration of sexual abuse and perversity, with the official sponsorship of the university’s Theatre and Dance Department.

The Vagina Monologues are powerful for the voices they give to so many people who are usually silenced by society,” Leslie Stamoolis, assistant professor of theater and dance and director of the play, told The Gonzaga Bulletin. “And telling those stories, in those voices, gives power to the narratives — it reminds us all that these stories matter, and in fact every woman’s story matters.”

Except, apparently, for the agonizing testimony of those women and men who have been victimized by sexual abuse—whose hellish ordeal is declared by Gonzaga to be their “salvation.” The crimes of some priests and the failure of bishops to disclose the crimes is appalling. But when Catholic students parade sexual perversion and abuse onstage in the midst of this crisis, the crimes are compounded. And the complicity of academic leaders and their blindness to the harm perpetuated by The Vagina Monologues is indefensible.

This article was first published at the National Catholic Register.