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a Catholic identity for Catholic University

By Diogenes (articles ) | Jun 17, 2010

 When he introduced John Garvey as the new president of Catholic University, Archbishop Allen Vigneron, the chairman of the board of trustees, told the Washington Post that he expected Garvey to continue the work begun by his predecessor “to reclaim a Catholic identity” for the school. That sounds good. 

But what does it mean, in concrete terms? A school named the Catholic University of America has a degree of “Catholic identity” by default; everyone knows that the university is affiliated with the Catholic Church. That’s obviously not what the archbishop has in mind. He is thinking, one assumes, of a school whose faculty members are proud to hold and teach the Catholic faith, and unafraid to bring the principles of Catholic teaching into the public square.

Just last fall, one bold faculty member at a Catholic institution of higher learning did just that. Scott Fitzgibbon, a professor at Boston College Law School, went to Maine to record a television commercial making the argument against legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Regrettably, Fitzgibbon drew very little support from his faculty colleagues at the Jesuit-run school. While the most strident extremists charged that Fitzgibbon was a “homophobe,” a group of 76 professors at BC law school signed a statement affirming their “commitment to making our institution a welcome and safe place for all students, including LGBT students.” The dean of the law school—who was one of the 76 signatories on that statement—made a point of telling reporters that Fitzgibbon was only speaking for himself, and BC Law was happy to have faculty members who would argue strenuously in support of homosexual marriage. In short, the professor who stood up for Catholic moral teaching found himself isolated. Not much “Catholic identity” at that school.

Oh, I almost forgot to mention: At the time that incident occurred on the BC Law campus, the dean was John Garvey.

Now let me raise the question again. How do Archbishop Vigneron and his colleagues on the board of Catholic University expect the new president to promote a Catholic identity? 

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  • Posted by: Defender - Jun. 19, 2010 1:20 PM ET USA

    Doesn't it seem that "Catholic Identity" has a different meaning for some (e.g., cardinals, archbishops, bishops, lawyers/deans) than for the majority of us? Haven't they read their catechism (if they can't afford it, they can look on-line)? Would this have happened before VII (I doubt it)?

  • Posted by: Baseballbuddy - Jun. 19, 2010 1:08 PM ET USA

    This is not just any Catholic university. It is THE university of the USCCB - supposedly the beacon of Catholic higher education in the US. Unless Garvey is made of the same courageous stuff as Fitzgibbons, choosing him as president of CU may reveal how out of touch the American bishops are with Pope Benedict and other faithful Catholics. Considering how quiescent most of our bishops are, this choice may not be surprising. They desperately need our prayers!

  • Posted by: jmoran8441 - Jun. 18, 2010 11:39 AM ET USA

    Also listed on the website as members of the Board of Trustees: Archbishop Timothy Dolan Archbishop Jose Gomez Cardinal Justin Rigali I am very surprised.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 18, 2010 10:53 AM ET USA

    Oh darn...and I had such high hopes for the Archbishop.

  • Posted by: Frodo1945 - Jun. 17, 2010 9:05 PM ET USA

    Is this the best we can do? How long O Lord??

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