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By Diogenes (articles ) | Apr 13, 2008

Some mischievous right-wing prankster, with the evident intention of exposing Catholic academics to ridicule, presumably colluded with the editors of the Washington Post in publishing an op-ed titled "Freedom and Faith on Campus" -- an essay that purports to be the work of a Catholic college president. Yet the text is over-saturated with cliché, malapropism, and clumsy posturing to the point that the attempted parody all but undoes itself.

Look, one or two lexical blunders might be expected in a screed of this kind, yet our putative president manages in the course of a dozen paragraphs to misuse the words doctrinaire, seminal, normative, banal, and leverage -- while writing in defense of higher education, no less. And check out the metaphors doing battle with each other in the sentence following:

Civilization itself is beset by profoundly consequential choices among radical forms of religious and political beliefs, creating deep chasms within the global community and threatening long-term war and violence that undermine the peace essential for true human dignity.

Stripped of modifiers, the bare prose yields this: choices attack civilization, thus creating chasms (deep valleys) and intimidating something with the prospect of wars that remove the earth out from under peace.

Doubtless the folks at the Washington Post enjoyed this spoof of academic vacuity as much as its author. But to run the lampoon on the eve of the Pope's pastoral visit is, methinks, in the worst possible taste.

And think of the poor president's feelings!

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  • Posted by: - Apr. 15, 2008 2:36 AM ET USA

    I understand her middle name is Sapphira.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 13, 2008 8:38 AM ET USA

    The matter with Catholic education in general seems to me to be contained in "church leaders, including institutional presidents..." Is she really a Church leader, co-magesterial?

  • Posted by: - Apr. 13, 2008 7:44 AM ET USA

    If dialogue is what President McGuire is concerned with, she should invite Fr. Fessio or Fr. Scanlan from Steubenville to debate the finer points of Ex Corde Ecclesiae. But maybe she wants to keep the events clear for a campaign rally by Trinity's most famous alumna, Nancy Pelosi. While Trinity's home page mentions the Pope's visit and notes the passing of a long time teaching Sister of Notre Dame, you have to dig pretty deep into the web site to find any clues to this being a Catholic school.

  • Posted by: - Apr. 13, 2008 7:42 AM ET USA

    No real verbs were murdered in this training exercise. In the event of a real Presidential Address, you will be instructed on where to go.