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Catholic scholars who aren't Catholic

By Phil Lawler (bio - articles - email) | Jan 15, 2010

In an editorial eulogizing the late Mary Daly, the Boston Globe lets the cat out of the bag. Daly “came to describe herself as a ‘radical lesbian feminist’ and a ‘post-Christian,’” the Globe notes. How, then, did she justify her position in the theology department at Boston College: a nominally Catholic school? The Globe has its answer:

Daly was one of many scholars who, through their efforts to use their positions at Catholic universities to pull the church leftward, tacitly acknowledged its central role in the lives of the faithful, and its vast influence in society at large.

Exactly. Like all too many of her colleagues in Catholic theological circles, Daly used her academic post not to build up the faith but to tear it down—or, to be more accurate, to exploit it for other purposes. At a time when St. Josemaria Escriva was urging his followers in Opus Dei to turn the ordinary work of the secular world to the purposes of the Church (that is, their sanctification), leftist professors were encouraging students to turn the work of the Church to the purposes of the secular world (that is, their politicization). The Globe editorial puts it differently, but the message is recognizably the same:

Daly was in the thick of a vibrant debate within the Catholic world over how to respond to the social changes of the era.

In academic life, Daly and her allies had ample opportunity to influence the world: to “pull the Church leftward.” They not only trained the next generation in their classrooms, but by controlling the levers of academic power they determined who would be given the appropriate credentials—the PhDs—to teach the following generations as well.

For years, a fifth column has been active in Catholic academic circles. By the 1970s, the damage they had done was evident enough to a few perceptive Catholic scholars, who began founding a new generation of Catholic colleges and universities explicitly devoted to the teaching magisterium of the Church. But at established schools like Boston College, Notre Dame, and Georgetown, the subversion continues.

The influence of these “post-Catholic” scholars extends beyond academic life, too. The Boston Globe is not ordinarily interested in theology; the editorial tribute to Mary Daly was obviously written by someone who had drunk deeply from those intellectual streams. (Notice the awkward use of the adjective "vibrant," a dead giveaway that the author is a liberal Catholic.) Nancy Pelosi can cite professors at Catholic schools to justify her political stands.

The treason of Catholic scholars is not news. What is new, in the Globe editorial, is the candid acknowledgement that some Catholic theologians are motivated not by a different vision for the good of the Church, but by a cynical desire to exploit the Church for the sake of their favored social causes. They acknowledge the Church as a potential force for social change, not as the Bride of Christ, the Mater et Magistra. They are opportunists, not Catholic theologians.

Still, rest assured that they will continue cashing their paychecks, and miseducating our children, for as long as we afford them the opportunities.  

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Show 3 Comments? (Hidden)Hide Comments
  • Posted by: koinonia - Jan. 26, 2010 9:48 AM ET USA

    The "work" of these so-called scholars is oft-times animated with a deep-seated hatred of the Catholic order. Satanic is not too strong a word to describe the rabidly pro-abortion, pro-homosexual and anti-Christian proclivities of these "educators." The Catholic leaders responsible for "affording" these opportunities to enemies of the Faith will literally have hell to pay for their administrative failures. It is high time that these "opportunities" for destruction be brought to an end.

  • Posted by: Defender - Jan. 16, 2010 1:25 PM ET USA

    I find it ironic that teachers are required to be recertified every few years in order to teach the Faith in a primary Catholic school, while their counterparts in a university aren’t even required to be Catholic and may apparently teach what they want, regardless if it is contrary to the magisterium of the Church or not. I cannot believe that there aren’t enough teachers available to teach the Faith at the college level and what is wrong if they are required to be Catholic, too?

  • Posted by: adamah - Jan. 15, 2010 9:34 AM ET USA

    Excellent analysis. We should start referring to these so-called universities as "post-Catholic." It is an apt description.

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