Category Archives: Theologian

Thomistic Scholar Rev. Thomas White Delivers St. Thomas Aquinas Lecture at Christendom College

Rev. Thomas White, O.P.

Rev. Thomas White, O.P.

Thomistic scholar and author, Rev. Thomas Joseph White, O.P., delivered the annual St. Thomas Aquinas Lecture on January 28 at Christendom College. The talk, entitled “How Does the Resurrection of Christ Illumine Human Reason? From Benedict XVI to St. Thomas Aquinas,” explored the doctrine of the resurrection of the body and its influence of philosophical thought.

Delving into the thought of modern philosophers on the relation of the body to the soul and Pope Benedict XVI’s response to them, Fr. White demonstrated that it was philosophically natural to hope in the resurrection from the dead.

“It is natural to want not to die,” Fr. White said. “And just because it is natural to want not to die — in part because we have an immaterial soul that we want to be united with our body— it can never be shown to be irrational to hope for the resurrection from the dead, even if reason cannot prove that we will rise from the dead.”

Fr. White explained further that the resurrection of Christ answers a very basic human desire and need to understand our final destiny as spiritual persons.

“For we aspire to immortality and knowledge of God and yet we are simultaneously mortal and bound to the labors of illness and death,” he said. “Hope in this situation is paradox. We must turn to the source of all that is — the Creator of the world…Who can create from nothing. And we must hope that He can raise the dead. Christ alive in the resurrection is the response of God to a deep innate longing in the heart of man.”

Concluding, Fr. White told the audience that if they wished to be ahead of the curve in human history, that they should be a Thomist, or follower of the thought of St. Thomas Aquinas.

“His vision of the human person is uniquely compatible with a realistic belief in the resurrection of the dead,” he said, “and helps us to see—even in our own age—how faith in the Word made Flesh provides a vivid, rich illumination to our human reason.”

Fr. White is a native of southeastern Georgia. He converted to Catholicism in college, in part from the influence of reading the letters of Flannery O’Connor. Educated at Brown University (B.A.) and the University of Oxford (Ph.D.), he entered the Dominicans in 2003 and was ordained a priest in 2008. He teaches theology at the Dominican House of Studies in Washington, D.C., and is the director of its Thomistic Institute. He is the author of Wisdom in the Face of Modernity: A Study in Thomistic Natural Theology (Sapientia Press, 2009), and is an Ordinary Member of the Pontifical Academy of St. Thomas Aquinas.

The College hosts a distinguished speaker each year on or around the feast of St. Thomas Aquinas (January 28) to speak on a philosophical or theological topic. To listen to this lecture and the previous lectures in this series visit Christendom on iTunes U, christendom.edu/itunesu.

Faculty Blasts USD President, Bishop Defends

The University of San Diego’s Faculty Senate passed a resolution blasting the president of the University for creating “a climate of apprehension and distrust” and accusing her of damaging the University’s reputation by upholding its Catholic identity and rescinding an invitation for an honorary fellowship to dissident British theologian Tina Beattie.

Earlier in the week, USD President Mary Lyons defended the disinvitation in an open forum with more than 75 students, citing Beattie’s public support for civil same-sex “marriage” as the reason. Lyons said that the donors who helped to create the Center for Catholic Thought and Culture, which had initially offered the fellowship, wished the Center to be “one place perhaps where faculty and others could encounter what the Church teaches.” She felt that the invitation was incongruent with the donors’ wishes.

The faculty resolution took that point head on, saying in effect that those who donate money to the University should have no say about what goes on in the University. The resolution stated plainly:

The wishes of donors or benefactors —or the stated interpretation of said wishes by the university administration — must not limit or impede in any way the full exercise of academic freedom in teaching, learning, scholarly activity, or academic decision-making in the university community.

The fallout, according to the resolution, has been extensive including The American Association of University Professors (AAUP) threatening to place USD on its censure list of institutions that “are not observing the generally recognized principles of academic freedom and tenure,” the national Executive Committee of the Academic Honor Society Phi Beta Kappa stating a “concern” about the campus’ commitment to diversity of speech and perspective, and Professor Mike Davis of the University of California, Riverside, resigning his appointment to the Knapp Chair of Liberal Arts at USD in response to Lyons’ decision.

In its resolution, the Faculty Senate accused Lyons of creating “a climate of apprehension and distrust in which self-censorship has the potential to hinder independent thinking.”

While the outrage and backlash has been strong, Bishop Robert Brom of San Diego has voiced his public support for Lyons’s decision, according to The National Catholic Register. “Academic freedom is an essential component of a Catholic university, but it means observing and submitting to the teaching authority of the Church,” Bishop  Brom reportedly said. “That principle has to be respected as much as institutional  autonomy.”

Bishop Brom reportedly pointed to Pope John Paul II’s 1990 apostolic constitution on Catholic higher education, Ex corde Ecclesiae which states, “In particular, Catholic theologians, aware that they fulfill a mandate received from the Church, are to be faithful to the magisterium of the Church as the authentic interpreter of sacred Scripture and sacred Tradition.”

The vote of the Senate was 17 to 4  in support of the measure with three abstaining. It did not advise any action other than a recommitment to their version of academic freedom.

University President Defends Disinvitation of Radical Theologian, Radical Theologian Promises a Response

University of San Diego President Mary Lyons’ decision to withdraw an invitation for an honorary fellowship to radical British theologian Tina Beattie sparked a firestorm among faculty and students. Now Lyons defended the disinvitation in an open forum with more than 75 students.

Lyons’ comments have elicited a promise from Beattie to publish a response.

Beattie has written about her support for abortion rights—which she has argued using just war theory and the imagery of the Trinity. She has also advocated sacramental same-sex “marriage” and women’s ordination. But Lyons focused her defense of the disinvitation on Beattie’s support of civil gay “marriage.” The Cardinal Newman Society has watched video of the event and transcribed Lyons’ words as well as possible. Lyons told students:

An invitation had been extended well over a year ago to a theologian, Dr. Beattie, who was coming to provide some lectures. After she had been invited she took a rather unusual step for a Catholic theologian in becoming a signatory of a public letter that went to the Times of London…in which she and the others who signed the letter had urged Catholics, Catholic laity using their fully formed consciences to consider supporting legislation that supported civil marriage between people of the same sex.

Now, it’s very important for me to emphasize that this was not at all an issue about same-sex marriage. That’s been, I think, perhaps a misconception. This is an issue about a Catholic theologian urging the laity to consider basically opposing the legitimate teaching of the Church, namely the bishops for whom they hold a very strong position on the nature of marriage as a sacrament. This letter did not say civil unions – a very different thing. This is civil marriage. Dr. Beattie is perfectly within her rights to do that thing; to say, publish anything she chooses to do. In fact, any scholar on this campus is free to do that because we do believe in academic freedom here and none of our faculty have ever been interfered with by me or any one else in that regard. The difference is this — Dr. Beattie was coming to hold a visiting fellowship in this center for a month which is an honor. It is an honor bestowed not by the department, not by the college, not by a particular school, it is an institutional honor and the driving principles for my decision are based on two things; integrity and congruity.

Integrity. All of us share in the particular responsibility that the integrity of our mission and our values as a Catholic university are sustained and ideally promoted.

Congruity is that we hold together what we say we are, who we say we are with how we behave and what we do. And so the decision was proven in a very narrow way by what I perceived to be the incongruity between honoring someone who had said in a very public way as a Catholic theologian that the legitimate teaching authority of the Church need not be heeded against our university as a Catholic university and particularly through the Center for Catholic Thought and Culture –a center which is privately funded by benefactors who understood that that center would be the one place perhaps where faculty and others could encounter what the Church teaches.

On a student-led Facebook page Toreros Stand With Beattie, Beattie herself responded just a few hours ago by writing:

I shall be writing a response to some of Dr Lyons’ claims later, in the interests of setting the record straight and ensuring that students have the knowledge they need to come to an informed and reasoned decision as to whether or not she has provided sufficient justification for the cancellation of my visit.

As of Thursday morning, Beattie had not published a response.

Lyons said during the forum that she was working on creating a task force to establish a method to decide on whom honors should be bestowed. “We don’t have good processes for bestowing honorary titles on people,” she said. “This is something that we have to really address.”

Although the forum seems to have been mostly amicable, one student who identified herself as a master’s student at the School for Peace and Justice Studies, said that the Center for Catholic Thought and Culture should be renamed to the Center for the Endorsement of the Catholic Church, “since it doesn’t honor critical thinking.”

You can watch video of the forum by clicking here.

USD Hosts Radical Theologian’s Radical Mentor

[Note: On 11/29/12, this post was corrected to report that the Burke Lecture is sponsored by UCSD, not USD, which hosted King for a separate event.]

Just two weeks after the University of San Diego withdrew a fellowship for theologian Tina Beattie, the University reportedly hosted Beattie’s mentor, University of Bristol theologian Ursula King, who also advocates abortion rights and women’s ordination. King has been serving as the Eugene M. Burke, CSP, Lecturer on Religion and Society at the nearby University of California – San Diego.

USD, according to its website, hosted King for a “Women in Catholic Education Since Vatican II” event. The description of the event reads:

Join us for an interactive discussion with a world-renowned theologian, whose hugely successful career has epitomized the joys and hopes as well as, no doubt, the griefs and anguishes of women working in Catholic education in recent times. Fall 2012 Burke Lecturer at UCSD, Ursula King, will share reflections on her personal experience and perspectives on how women have impacted and in turn been  impacted by Catholic education since Vatican II. The reflections will look back and, especially, look forward to the future.

Interestingly, Beattie was scheduled to take part in the event along with King. In fact, the Center for Catholic Thought and Culture, which sponsored the event, offered an apology of sorts for Beattie’s absence while disavowing responsibility:

We regret to inform CCTC’s supporters that Tina Beattie will no longer be presenting at this event as her visit has been cancelled by USD President Mary Lyons, a decision which did not involve anyone working with the CCTC.

King, in a piece in The Tablet, pressed for the ordination of women. “Three women theologians Mary Grey, Lisa Usherwood, and Ursula King would use the opportunity to address the Pope directly to press the case for women’s ordination,” The Tablet reports.

“It seems that secular society has far more respect for the human rights of women…than does the Catholic Church,” reads the essay signed by King. “Nor can anyone imagine what the psychic wounding over the centuries has meant for the spiritual journeys of women.”

In that same essay, she says that she takes heart in liberation theologians and laments that “in fact no one believed that it would be that easy to topple patriarchy, a system reigning triumphant for 3,000 years.”

On the issue of abortion, King lamented anti-abortion laws in Nicaragua:

Today, any abortion performed in Nicaragua carries a criminal penalty of one to two years for the woman, or one to three years for the provider. Events in Nicaragua have two main lessons for advocates. First, they demonstrate the need for constant vigilance throughout the region, to protect even the most limited access to abortion.

USD President Mary Lyons has made it clear that she rescinded the invitation to Beattie because the CCTC honored her with a fellowship. But she said she wouldn’t object to Beattie speaking on campus.

USD Trustees Back President

After student protests and a scathing vote of no-confidence from faculty at The University of San Diego, who are upset about the University president’s withdrawal of a fellowship for a radical theologian, the board of trustees is voicing their support for the president.

In a letter addressed to “The University of San Diego Community” and posted on a pro-Beattie site called Toreros Stand with Beattie, the board of trustees didn’t go so far as to say they agreed with the decision of the University President Mary Lyons but said they believed she “made this decision in good faith and with the best interest of the University in mind.”

This is a much-needed sign of support, since more than 100 students protested and the faculty of the College of Arts and Sciences delivered a scathing no-confidence vote that went so far as to call her ”ethically bankrupt.”

Lyons has said the reason for the cancellation of the fellowship was that the theologian had publicly dissented from Church teaching.

One of the concerns cited most often by those protesting the decision is that the withdrawal of the invitation chills academic freedom on campus. But the board wrote that the University’s commitment to academic freedom remains strong. “Concerns have been raised about whether this decision challenges the University’s commitment to academic freedom and to a robust climate of free intellectual inquiry,” they wrote. “The Board of Trustees reaffirms this commitment and the essential role that academic freedom plays in our vibrant academic community.”

Lyons recently stated that the University could invite Beattie, a supporter of same-sex “marriage,” but couldn’t offer her an honorary fellowship.

While the president’s decision to rescind the invitation should be applauded, USD has a long and disturbing track record when it comes to upholding its Catholic identity. Earlier this year, USD hosted its first “educational drag show” which sparked an alumni protest. And in September, the administration urged undergraduate students to register for a course called “Using Adolescent and Children’s Literature to Explore LGBTQ Issues” as an approved elective for minors in Education, Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, and Peace and Justice Studies. Fortunately, not enough students showed interest in the class, and it was cancelled.

Here’s the text of the letter in full from the board of trustees:

To the University of San Diego Community:

The Board of Trustees met and reviewed the series of events, statements, and views of faculty and students surrounding President Mary Lyons’ recent decision to rescind an invitation that had been extended to Dr. Tina Beattie to serve in an honorary visiting fellowship through the University’s Frances G. Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture (“CCTC”).
We discussed with the president her reasoning for the decision which involved the narrow issue of whether an outside scholar should receive an honorary fellowship through the CCTC. The president has authority to make decisions of this nature, and we believe that she made this decision in good faith and with the best interest of the University in mind.
Concerns have been raised about whether this decision challenges the University’s commitment to academic freedom and to a robust climate of free intellectual inquiry. The Board of Trustees reaffirms this commitment and the essential role that academic freedom plays in our vibrant academic community.

President Lyons has led USD for nearly a decade during an era of extraordinary growth, achievement and inspiration. Under her strong leadership and vision, the University has consistently excelled.

We encourage the campus community to come together to move this great university forward.
Sincerely,
Ron Fowler Chair

Radical Theologian from Fairfield Blasts USD, Belittles Bishops Authority, And Attacks The Cardinal Newman Society

Gay “marriage” advocate, former Jesuit, and Fairfield University theologian Paul Lakeland wrote a letter blasting the president of the University of San Diego for withdrawing an invitation to radical theologian Tina Beattie, saying:

…the decision to rescind Professor Beattie’s invitation looks not only like an instance of bowing to ill-informed pressure but also runs the danger of holding your distinguished institution up to ridicule in the eyes of the American academic community, including those of most Catholic institutions.

Lakeland wonders how Beattie can be disinvited for her stance on gay “marriage” while he himself holds an identical position and had recently spoken on USD’s campus. In the letter, he argues that it’s perfectly acceptable for a Catholic to accept gay “marriage” as well as promote contraception in public institutions without running afoul of Church teaching. He even claims that the bishops who opposed gay “marriage” have “no more and no less authority than any other baptized Christian” on that issue.

Professor Beattie was disinvited, as I understand it, because she signed a public document in the United Kingdom advising Catholics that they could in good faith support legislation to legalize same-sex civil unions. I do not see how this has anything to do with Catholic teaching, and nor should you. It is perfectly possible for a Catholic to believe that sacramental marriage in the Christian tradition should not be open to same-sex couples and yet hold that in a pluralistic society it is right and proper that civil rights should be extended to all people regardless of their sexual orientation. There is nothing in the Gospel to counter this and nothing, as far as I can see, in magisterial teaching. The well-publicized opposition of many U.S. Catholic bishops to changes in state and federal law to admit same-sex civil unions or civil marriages is not based on Gospel teaching but on the prudential judgment that such changes in the law will lead to pressure to change the status of sacramental marriage. They simply have no standing on secular legal issues. They may or may not be right in this matter, but their judgment that this is indeed what will happen is not a part of their responsibility as teachers of the Gospel. In this matter they hold opinions with no more and no less authority than any other baptized Christian. This prudential judgment does not bind Catholics beyond the respectful hearing that should always be given to episcopal teaching.

Allow me to offer you a hypothetical parallel example. The magisterium is utterly opposed to “artificial” contraception and so cannot support using or supplying contraceptives. A Catholic might easily, however, while even accepting this magisterial teaching believe that condoms should be made available in public high schools and public colleges and universities, since there is no question that they would reduce the number of unwanted pregnancies and the number of abortions, and society in general does not accept the Catholic Church’s position on birth control. The question of same-sex relationships, civil unions and marriages is rapidly approaching the same set of circumstances. Society in general is becoming much more accepting of the idea of same-sex marriages (see the spate of state referendums in the presidential election) and society has an interest in allowing such unions. A Catholic can clearly feel on grounds of separation of Church and state that a law that frees others to follow their consciences and does not prevent Catholic following theirs is entirely acceptable…

Professor Beattie was entirely correct in her views expressed in the supposedly controversial statement on same-sex civil unions. I heartily concur with her and I know that many others agree. I am sad to say that when the issues behind this state of affairs are brought into the light of day, the decision to rescind Professor Beattie’s invitation looks not only like an instance of bowing to ill-informed pressure but also runs the danger of holding your distinguished institution up to ridicule in the eyes of the American academic community, including those of most Catholic institutions.

Lakeland urges USD President Mary Lyons to reverse her decision to rescind the invitation to Beattie. His letter was recently posted on a Facebook site supporting Beattie. But besides attempting to belittle the bishops’ authority and blasting Lyons, Lakeland also has some harsh words specifically for The Cardinal Newman Society.

The barrage of conservative pressure that you have had to face in recent weeks comes from people who wish to turn back the clock on church-state relations to a time before Vatican II, when the Church did what it could to impose its Catholic vision upon the constitutional systems of secular states. Fifty years ago the Jesuit theologian Karl Rahner called this “the heresy of integrism.” It rears its ugly head wherever anyone attempts to take Catholic teaching and use it as a template for the ethical or legal system of a pluralistic society. It is vitally important to distinguish between the right to hold our views and the right to impose them on others, and I am afraid that the likes of the Cardinal Newman Society simply do not understand this.

 This is simply strange. In fact, The Cardinal Newman Society has no position on “church-state relations,” constitutional government, or the “legal system” of America, beyond our defense of the natural freedom of Catholic schools and colleges to uphold the Faith they profess by their mission. To label it a “heresy” to encourage stronger Catholic identity in our colleges and universities is, of course, offensive without some evidence of dissent from Catholic teaching (which we assure you cannot be found at The Cardinal Newman Society). Lakeland displays a shocking confusion about government, Church, the academy, pluralism and fidelity that is unintelligible.

We understand the sentiment, however. Last year, The Cardinal Newman Society provided evidence of “a well-orchestrated attempt to undermine the Church’s doctrine and its stand against homosexual ‘marriage’” at a series of conferences co-sponsored by Fairfield and Fordham universities in which Lakeland played a pivotal role.

For those unfamiliar with Lakeland, Anne Hendershott recently posted her unflattering view at Catholic World Report:

Earlier this year, former Jesuit priest Paul Lakeland, a Fairfield University Catholic Studies professor, was invited to give an address to students and faculty at the University of San Diego. He received this honor despite the fact that in 2007 he was the media spokesman in favor of Connecticut Bill 1098, a bill that would have forced Catholic churches to reorganize along state-mandated lines—giving lay control over parishes and effectively removing the authority of priests and bishops. As a spokesman in favor of the bill, Lakeland, like Cooke, has long lobbied for an end to what  he calls the “structural oppression of the laity” by the clergy. In his books (published by Continuum) and speeches, Lakeland promises to help all Catholics “exercise their baptismal priesthood” and dismisses the role of the Catholic deacon as a “monster” which belongs to a “lay-ecclesial species.” Claiming that his newest book identifies the task of the laity as working “to build a non-clerical Church,” Lakeland joins others in organizations like CORPUS and similar fringe Catholic groups to radically change the Church and marginalize the bishops’ teaching authority on issues like abortion, same-sex marriage, and women’s ordination.

Newman, Brits Spar Over San Diego Controversy

What would Blessed John Henry Newman say about the recent decision by the president of the University of San Diego to rescind a fellowship offered to radical theologian Tina Beattie?

Blessed John Henry Newman engaged in many a good argument in his day, and no doubt he would have been quick to defend USD against contemporary critics like Eamon Duffy, Professor of the History of Christianity at the University of Cambridge. Duffy joined in the outrage against USD’s decision, calling it indicative of what he called the “Sovietisation of Catholic intellectual life which many people feel is one of the saddest features of the contemporary Church.”

Remarks like Duffy’s are similar to much of the overblown rhetoric surrounding this story which The Cardinal Newman Society has reported on extensively, but Duffy also added his own wrinkle by unfortunately attempting to use Newman’s own words to bolster his stance.

Contrary to Duffy, The Catholic Herald writer William Oddie wrote recently that USD should never have issued the invitation in the first place to Beattie. “A few inquiries about Professor Beatt[ie] would have elicited that she was already well-known for her rejection of the authority for Catholics of the Magisterium of the Church,” wrote Oddie, who specifically pointed out Beattie’s radical position on gay “marriage.”

Beattie also supports abortion rights and has spoken out in favor of female ordination as The Cardinal Newman Society has reported previously.

But Oddie specifically targets Duffy’s usage of Newman to criticize USD:

In his defence of Professor Beattie, Professor Duffy quotes John Henry Newman, predictably perhaps, woefully out of context: claiming Newman in this way is, of course, an established liberal tactic; usually, it is the Letter to the Duke of Norfolk which is thus abused in an attempt to paint Newman, that wonderfully acerbic doctrinal rigorist and scourge of liberalism (which he describes in the Apologia as “false liberty of thought”) as being a liberal himself. I think Professor Duffy’s  quotation must be from The Idea of a University (though I have been unable, after several digital scans of Newman’s works, to discover this passage — can anyone identify it?) Newman, he says, “criticised the ‘shortsightedness’ of those who ‘have thought that the strictest Catholic University could by its rules and its teachings exclude intellectual challenges to faith. The cultivation of the intellect involves that danger, and where it is absolutely excluded, there is no cultivation’.”

But this simply cannot be applied as a defence of Professor Beattie. For a start, it is clear that Newman was writing about intellectual challenges from outside the Church and not from within the community of faith. Newman made  absolutely unambiguous his belief that in modern conditions a specifically Catholic University ought to exclude heresy, so that its enemies were beyond its boundaries and not within them. It is, he wrote in The Idea of a University “one great advantage of an age in which unbelief speaks out, that Faith can speak out too; that, if falsehood assails Truth, Truth can assail falsehood. In such an age it is possible to found a University more emphatically Catholic than could be set up in the middle age, because Truth can entrench itself carefully, and define its own profession severely, and display its colours unequivocally, by occasion of that very unbelief which so shamelessly vaunts itself. And a kindred advantage to this is the confidence which, in such an age, we can place in all who are around us, so that we need look for no foes but those who are in the enemy’s camp.”

That is precisely what San Diego University presumably wants to do by withdrawing its invitation to Professor Beattie, an invitation it should perhaps never have issued in the first place. A few inquiries about Professor Beatty would have elicited that she was already well-known for her rejection of the authority for Catholics of the Magisterium of the Church (she is a trustee of and regular contributor to The Tablet)…

In a Catholic University, says Newman, “we need look for no foes but those who are in the enemy’s camp”. Then, maybe: but not now — and that’s the problem. Elsewhere in the same discourse, Newman says that in his own time, the Church “has … a direct command and a reliable influence over her own institutions, which was wanting in the middle ages. A University is her possession in these times, as well as her creation: nor has she the need, which once was so urgent, to expel heresies from her pale, which have now their own centres of attraction elsewhere, and spontaneously take their departure. Secular advantages no longer present an inducement to hypocrisy, and her members in consequence have the consolation of being able to be sure of each other”.

But the Church in our own times no longer has that “direct command and… reliable influence over her own institutions” that Newman believed was essential; and the old mediaeval imperative to “expel heresies from her pale” has returned as an “urgent need” for the modern Catholic University. Heresies no longer “spontaneously take their departure” as they did in Newman’s day; now, they must be driven out. There can surely be little doubt that Newman of all people would have been horrified at the idea of Tina Beattie teaching young Catholics, in a Catholic University, not only about the desirability of gay marriage and the need to defy the Church’s teachings about that, but about so much else besides.

SJU prof running for House opposes MN marriage amendment: UPDATED

A theology professor at St. John’s University in Collegeville, Minn., is also a candidate for the Minnesota state legislature, and he opposes the state ballot measure defending marriage.

Richard Bohannon, running in Minnesota House District 13a, teaches in both the theology and environmental studies programs and has written a book called Public Religion and the Urban Environment, published by Continuum.

His candidacy has been endorsed by two organizations publicly opposing the proposed amendment to the Minnesota Constitution which would define marriage as it truly is – between one man and one woman. Outfront Minnesota, which says that it “works for equality and fairness for the LGBT community,” and Project 515, whose “mission is to ensure that same sex couples and their families have equal rights and considerations under Minnesota law” have both given him their blessings.

In addition, he’s one of the signers on the October 26th letter published by 143 professors at the College of St. Benedict and St. John’s University that calls the marriage amendment in Minnesota “an unjust attack on gay and lesbian people and at variance with our community’s best traditions and values.”

UPDATE: According to The St. Cloud Times, Bohannon lost his race to rival Jeff Howe 59.1% to 40.8%.

University of San Diego Rescinds Invite to Radical Theologian

University of San Diego (USD) officials have rescinded a visiting fellowship for radical British theologian Tina Beattie that was scheduled to begin this month, according to a letter written to Beattie by USD President Dr. Mary Lyons, who cited Beattie’s public dissent from Catholic teachings.

Alumni for a Catholic USD and its leader, attorney Charles LiMandri, pressured Lyons to halt the fellowship. The cancellation is a major success for the alumni, who organized earlier this year in response to a drag show on campus. On her blog Marginal Musings, Beattie also blames The Cardinal Newman Society for the cancellation, because of the Society’s “influential” report on the USD scandal.

Beattie writes, “I suspect the most influential blog was that of the Cardinal Newman Society, which is ironic since I am in high demand as a speaker by the Newman Association and its various local groups in this country.”

USD alumni and The Cardinal Newman Society pointed to Beattie’s support for legalized abortion, which she has argued using just war theory and the imagery of the Trinity. She has advocated sacramental same-sex “marriage” and women’s ordination.

Those positions apparently led Dr. Lyons to cancel Beattie’s visiting fellowship and lecture series with USD’s Center of Catholic Thought and Culture, according to Lyons’ letter which Beattie released online:

The Center’s primary mission, consistent with the intentions of those who have financially supported the Center is to provide opportunities to engage the Catholic intellectual tradition in its diverse embodiments: doctrinal, spiritual, moral, literary, artistic, and social. This would include clear and consistent presentations concerning the Church’s moral teachings, teachings with which you, as a Catholic theologian, dissent publicly. In light of the contradiction between the mission of the Center and your own public stances as a Catholic theologian, I regretfully rescind the invitation that had been extended to you.

On her blog, Beattie wrote that it’s not just the rescinded invitation that worries her, but she’s concerned about the message this sends about academic freedom at Catholic colleges in America:

The cancellation of my visit is not the most important issue in all this. The real issues are academic freedom, the vocation of lay theologians in relation to the official magisterium, and the power of a hostile minority of bloggers (some of whom are ordained deacons and priests) to command the attention and support of the CDF. The latter is the most sinister development of all, and it is a cause for scandal which brings the Church into disrepute.

Beattie is presumably unconcerned about the scandal of her own musings. In defense of her pro-abortion rights position, Beattie wrote:

The idea of ensoulment serves as a reminder that the coming into being of a human person is not an instantaneous event but a gradual process, not only in terms of the biological process of fertilisation, implantation and cellular division, but also in terms of the developing consciousness of the mother and her relationship to the child.

Given that in Christian theology the understanding of personhood is fundamentally relational because it bears the image of the Triune God, it is hard to see how an embryo can be deemed a person before even the mother enters into a rudimentary relationship with it. As many as one in four pregnancies may spontaneously abort during the first eight weeks of pregnancy, often without the woman knowing that she was pregnant. As some Catholic ethicists point out, the logical corollary of this position is that a woman should baptise every menstrual period – just in case.

In that latter piece, she also compared pregnancy to war, saying, “To acknowledge that there are cases when early abortion is the lesser of two evils is not to be pro-abortion, any more than to acknowledge that sometimes war may be a necessary evil means that one is pro-war.”

In The Tablet, she wondered why marriage couldn’t “become an inclusive rather than an exclusive sacrament?” She seemed to indicate that homosexual “marriage” might even be better because it doesn’t involve subordinating women. She wrote:

In these times of radical change in our understanding of sexuality and human dignity (especially the full and equal dignity of women in this life and not just in the life to come), maybe we heterosexuals need the marriages of our homosexual friends to help us to understand what marriage looks like when it’s not corrupted by traditions of domination and subordination.

Beattie isn’t the only theologian upset at the cancellation. According to The National Catholic Reporter, Jean Porter, the John A. O’Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, said, “This is an insult to a well-respected theologian who I know, whose work I know and who I think has always been entirely appropriate in the ways in which she’s developed and expressed her views.”

Fr. McBrien of Notre Dame Says Long Arm of Bishops Can’t Reach Catholic Colleges

Many “progressive Catholics” remain in the Church only because they have found refuge on college campuses “where the long arms of a bishop cannot reach,” writes Fr. Richard McBrien, the Crowley-O’Brien Professor of Theology at the University of Notre Dame, in his latest screed against the Vatican and the U.S. bishops.

Father McBrien writes in The National Catholic Reporter that “ultra-conservatives” are staging a “wholesale assault” on nuns for the soul of the Church. And McBrien is also looking forward to the next pope who, he predicts, will lead the Church more in line with his own progressive vision for the Church.

Oh, and he compares himself to Moses.

“The nuns have been in the forefront of the struggle to keep the spirit and the letter of the Second Vatican Council alive” writes Father McBrien. “Unfortunately, LCWR is a scapegoat for everything the right wing in the Catholic [C]hurch loathes. One should recognize that ultra-conservatives exist in the highest ranks of the Vatican, excluding no ecclesiastical office in the [C]hurch.”

He writes that while “the nuns” celebrate Vatican II, ultra-conservatives have staged a “terrible backlash” on Vatican II and are currently waging a “wholesale assault” on the nuns in the United States.

He blames Popes John Paul II and Benedict XVI of undermining the Council by appointing of bishops and archbishops “unfriendly” to it. Among those responsible for the “terrible backlash” McBrien includes:

Examples of such bishops are (with the diocese and year they were first ordained a bishop): Thomas Welsh, Arlington, Va., 1970 (now deceased); Thomas Daily, Brooklyn, N.Y., 1974 (now retired); Nicholas DiMarzio, Brooklyn, 1996; David Ricken, Green Bay, Wis., 2000; Richard Lennon, Cleveland, 2001.

Examples of such archbishops are: John Myers, Newark, N.J., 1987; Joseph Kurtz, Louisville, Ky.,1999; Jose Gomez, Los Angeles, 2001; Francis George, Chicago, 1990; Charles Chaput, Philadelphia, 1988; Edward Egan, New York, 1985 (now retired).

He says that many bishops “overemphasize the abortion issue” over social justice issues and the needs of the poor.

He also looks forward to a new pope. “A new pope will be elected who the electors think is only a seat-warmer (just as they once regarded John XXIII), and the pendulum will swing the other way,” he said. “It always has.”

McBrien does not have a great track record in predicting popes however. As George Weigel pointed out, McBrien declared Joseph Ratzinger’s chances of ascending to the papacy as electorally impossible a mere 24 hours before it happened.

And then he compares himself and his fellow naysayers to Moses. “Some of us will never see the change, like the saintly Moses, but it will come.”

Earlier this year, Fr. McBrien cast doubt on papal authority, saying it’s “an incorrect assumption” that “the Bishop of Rome is free, by the will of Christ, not only to appoint all bishops in the Roman Catholic church, but to dismiss them as well.”

USD Hosts Theologian Who Compared Mass to Homosexual Intercourse

[Note: As of 11/2/12, pending further review of Beattie’s book God’s Mother, Eve’s Advocate, The Cardinal Newman Society has removed from its blog Campus Notes a citation from the book that compared the Mass to homosexual intercourse. The citation was pulled from a rather lengthy selection of Beattie’s book posted online by Google Books (p.80) and seemed to indicate Beattie’s own views.  However, Beattie complains that her work has been cited out of context, and The Cardinal Newman Society will respect that cxplanation with apology and regret for any error.]

The University of San Diego (USD) will  host a lecture series by a radical theologian from England who not only supports abortion but has used just war theory and the imagery of the Trinity to support killing the unborn and advocated sacramental same-sex marriage.

USD’s stated mission includes being “committed to the dignity and fullest development of the whole person.”

Just last month, Bishop Declan Lang of the English Diocese of Clifton cancelled a lecture by theology professor Tina Beattie, the Director of the Digby Stuart Research Centre for Religion, Society and Human Flourishing at the University of Roehampton in London, because of her radical views. But that isn’t stopping USD’s  Center for Catholic Thought and Culture (CCTC) from proudly hosting her as a visiting fellow for the fall semester.

Ironically, the University uses the CCTC as evidence of the university’s Catholic identity on its website, saying “the Center for Catholic Thought and Culture articulates the message of the Catholic intellectual tradition through thought-provoking lectures, programs and cultural events.”

On November 8th, Beattie will speak on “Visions of Paradise: Women, Sin and Redemption in Christian Art.” On November 12th, she’ll speak on “Women in Catholic Education since Vatican II.” And on November 29th, she’ll speak about “The Catholic Church and Human Rights: Debates, Dialogues and Conflicts.”

The University touts Beattie’s “main areas of teaching and research” as “Christian ethics, theologies and theories of gender, theology and the arts, and religion and human rights.”

In defense of her pro-abortion rights position, Beattie wrote:

The idea of ensoulment serves as a reminder that the coming into being of a human person is not an instantaneous event but a gradual process, not only in terms of the biological process of fertilisation, implantation and cellular division, but also in terms of the developing consciousness of the mother and her relationship to the child.

Given that in Christian theology the understanding of personhood is fundamentally relational because it bears the image of the Triune God, it is hard to see how an embryo can be deemed a person before even the mother enters into a rudimentary relationship with it. As many as one in four pregnancies may spontaneously abort during the first eight weeks of pregnancy, often without the woman knowing that she was pregnant. As some Catholic ethicists point out, the logical corollary of this position is that a woman should baptise every menstrual period – just in case.

In that same piece, she also compares pregnancy to war, saying, “To acknowledge that there are cases when early abortion is the lesser of two evils is not to be pro-abortion, any more than to acknowledge that sometimes war may be a necessary evil means that one is pro-war.”

In The Tablet, she wondered why marriage couldn’t “become an inclusive rather than an exclusive sacrament?” But not only does Beattie think homosexual “marriage” is equal to traditional marriage, she seems to say homosexual “marriage” might even be better because it doesn’t involve subordinating women. She wrote:

In these times of radical change in our understanding of sexuality and human dignity (especially the full and equal dignity of women in this life and not just in the life to come), maybe we heterosexuals need the marriages of our homosexual friends to help us to understand what marriage looks like when it’s not corrupted by traditions of domination and subordination.

As The Cardinal Newman Society recently reported, USD recently urged undergraduate students to register for a course called “Using Adolescent and Children’s Literature to Explore LGBTQ Issues” as an approved elective for minors in Education, Gender Studies, Ethnic Studies, and Peace and Justice Studies.

USD’s law school also supported a bill along with the National Center for Lesbian Rights that would allow judges to establish that a child may legally have more than two parents.

And USD also hosted an “educational drag show” for students earlier this year. It was this outrageous event that inspired USD alum Charles LiMandri to form a group called Alumni for a Catholic USD which has worked to raise awareness that USD’s Catholic identity has been severely diminished.

HT Protect the Pope for some research on Beattie.

Notre Dame Jesuit Receives Ratzinger Theology Award from Pope

Father Brian Daley S.J., a professor of theology at the University of Notre Dame, received the 2012 Ratzinger Prize for Theology from Pope Benedict XVI at a ceremony in the Vatican’s Apostolic Palace.

Father Daley has written about the development of Christian doctrine in late antiquity and the early Middle Ages, according to The Catholic News Service. The pope specifically commended his work as improving relations between the Catholic and Orthodox churches.

“I have always thought of myself as a pretty obscure academic and never expected this kind of publicity,” he said. “But I’m delighted for the sake of the Society of Jesus, and also for Notre Dame. It’s a great recognition for what all of us are really trying to do — serve the Catholic Church by helping people become more aware of our tradition of reflective faith.”

He said the church fathers of the first seven or eight centuries “really formed the way the church understands and lives the Gospel we have received” such as the understanding of the person of Christ, of God as Trinity, and of the Christian hope for eternal life with Christ.

You can read more at CNS.

ND and BC Theologians Undercut Bishops

In a story in the National Catholic Reporter, two theologians from Notre Dame and Boston College seem to undercut a number of bishops who have publicly stated that Catholics could not in good conscience vote for pro-abortion and pro-gay “marriage” candidates when alternatives are available.

Bishop Thomas Paprocki of Springfield, Illinois, recently told Catholics in The Catholic Times that their salvation was in “serious jeopardy” should they vote for such a candidate. He pointed out the “intrinsic evils” in the Democratic Party’s pro-abortion and pro-gay “marriage” platform. He wrote that “a vote for a candidate who promotes actions or behaviors that are intrinsically evil and gravely sinful makes you morally complicit and places the eternal salvation of your own soul in serious jeopardy.”

Archbishop John Myers of Newark, N.J., warned Catholics that disagreement with the Church’s official teaching on same-sex “marriage” “seriously harm[s] their communion with Christ and His Church.”

But the Reporter found two theologians at The University of Notre Dame and Boston College to undercut and obfuscate the bishops’ statements.

M. Cathleen Kaveny, a professor of law and theology at the University of Notre Dame, said that a potential problem with bishops’ statements on same-sex unions is that they address the issue in the abstract — not taking into consideration a number of other questions about how candidates would act while in office, or if the issue would even come up.

“I don’t know if they can say this has to be the priority that you’re voting on … without any consideration of what the alternatives are and how likely electing someone is to actually make those things happen,” Kaveny said.

“Treating issues in an abstract way and just tying a candidate to a position on an abstract issue doesn’t go far enough in considering who’s going to be the best leader of the country,” she said.

Jesuit Fr. James Bretzke, a professor of moral theology at Boston College’s School of Theology and Ministry, questioned the perennial arguments that a candidate’s reluctance to criminalize abortion should necessarily mean he or she loses Catholics’ votes.

Even though a candidate may be unwilling to push for the overturning of Roe v. Wade, the 1973 U.S. Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion, Bretzke said, she or he may support policies that would reduce the number of abortions “in the composite.”

Boston College Celebrates 150th in Midst of Identity Crisis

Boston College can be commended for celebrating its 150th anniversary the way a Catholic college should: with a call to service, and with an opening Mass yesterday concelebrated by Boston’s Cardinal Sean O’Malley, OFM Cap., and BC President Father William Leahy, S.J., at Fenway Park.

But it must have seemed strange to the 20,000 participants that Cardinal O’Malley did not deliver the homily—instead, that honor was given to Father Michael Himes, OFM, a BC theology professor. He’s the same Fr. Himes who in February reportedly said it was “absolutely mad” to expect celibacy from homosexuals.

Cardinal O’Malley made “relatively brief remarks” after Mass, according to the Boston Globe. He reportedly did not mention BC’s frequent conflicts with Catholic teaching and the university’s own Catholic identity, but instead remarked on the historical contributions BC has made to Boston and the Church.  From the Globe:

…[Cardinal] O’Malley praised Boston College for its role in the “Catholic emancipation,” a reference to the strong anti-Catholic sentiment faced by early Irish immigrants to Boston, such as BC’s founder, the Rev. John McElroy.

“In the days of Father McElroy, it wasn’t easy to be a Catholic or immigrant in Boston, and it isn’t easy today,” [Cardinal] O’Malley said. “We still need the giants of Catholic education to help form new disciples in the [C]hurch.

“The involvement of BC with the renewal of our Catholic schools has made a huge difference,” he continued. “BC has been a very important part in the history of our local church and we are all delighted to be a part of this magnificent celebration in Fenway Park.”

That latter point about Catholic schools is noteworthy in light of the service program launched by BC to celebrate its anniversary, according to The Heights:

As part of Boston College’s Sesquicentennial celebration, University President Rev. William P. Leahy, S.J., and the Volunteer and Service Learning Center (VSLC) have invited members of the BC community to participate in 150 minutes of community service during the three semesters of the Sesquicentennial.

BC Alumni will also be asked to participate in 150 minutes of service through the more than 25 alumni service projects offered by alumni chapters or on the National Day of Service, April 23, 2013. To promote student involvement and outreach on the BC campus during the 150th anniversary, the VSLC has created a new program called the Eagle Volunteers.

The Eagle Volunteers is a student volunteer program that allows BC students to choose a volunteer opportunity that fits their schedule and interests. Through the VSLC, the Eagle Volunteers will be offering BC students three volunteer locations where they can complete their service time on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, and Thursdays throughout the year.

Volunteer sites include St. Peter’s Teen Center and the Yawkey Center Food Pantry, both associated with Catholic Charities of Boston. But the third volunteer site is the Epiphany School, an Episcopal middle school for needy children. The choice of an Episcopal school is interesting, especially in light of Cardinal O’Malley’s praise for BC’s role in the “renewal of our Catholic schools.”

Despite the blemishes, Boston College’s choice to celebrate BC’s sesquicentennial with a public Mass and a call to service is a hopeful sign that after 150 years, Catholic tradition still holds a special place at Boston College.

Boston College Jesuit Teaches That God Exists

Shining a light in the darkness at Boston College, Jesuit Father Ronald Tacelli is the subject of a hopeful profile at Catholic Exchange.  His undergraduate philosophy course, “Does God Exist?”, introduces skeptical and poorly catechized students to proofs for God’s existence.

The article’s quotes from one BC student indicate the challenges professors must face at today’s highly secularized, historically Catholic institutions:

Prior to taking the course last fall, sophomore Matthew Johnson was skeptical, even “frustrated” with those who attempted to prove the existence of a divine being, saying he found those attempts “futile and wasteful at best.”

However, he saw the course itself as anything but futile because it improved his understanding of theism and gave him more respect for theists: “The class helped me to widen my views to incorporate proofs for God’s existence that were neither dogmatic nor far-fetched. I now consider myself, as Father Tacelli would say, ‘on the search.’ I don’t know if I believe that a God exists or not, but I was not even open to the idea of a God’s existence before Father Tacelli’s class.”

…Matthew Johnson has continued thinking about God, in part by reading books from Father Tacelli, including Progress and Religion by Christopher Dawson and Mere Christianity by C.S. Lewis. Johnson says that “Father Tacelli has been an excellent advisor, guide and mentor on this journey, and though he has certain beliefs and articulates and advocates them strongly, I never felt judged or looked down upon because I wasn’t ‘a believer.’ In fact, what he teaches and how he teaches it have opened up the possibility of me becoming ‘a believer.”