in a different voice

By Diogenes (articles) | Jan 19, 2006

Valentine's Day is less than a month away, and that means we're in for the spectacle of Catholic college presidents buckling in submission to the annual Vagina Monologues putsch -- debasing themselves, and the Faith, by cringe-making excuses for their passivity and moral gutlessness.

Well, there's a new kid on the block.

Father Brian J. Shanley, O.P., President of Providence College, has issued a statement saying he has "come to the conclusion that a V-Day presentation of The Vagina Monologues is not appropriate for a school with our mission." If your ears just popped, that's because of the collective gasp that issued from The Catholic Higher Education Community in response to the decision. Shanley goes on to explain his reasoning at some length. An excerpt:

The back cover of my paperback edition of The Vagina Monologues asserts (1) that its principal aim is to be "a celebration of female sexuality in all its complexity and mystery" and (2) that it has been "hailed as a bible for a new generation of women." I would argue that both of these claims are false. First, far from celebrating the complexity and mystery of female sexuality, The Vagina Monologues simplifies and demystifies it by reducing it to the vagina. In contrast, Roman Catholic teaching sees female sexuality as ordered toward a loving giving of self to another in a union of body, mind, and soul that is ordered to the procreation of new life. The deeper complexity and mystery lies in the capacity of human sexuality, both male and female, to sacramentalize the love of God in marriage. Any depiction of female sexuality that neglects its unitive and procreative dimensions diminishes its complexity, its mystery, and its dignity. Moreover, to explore fully the dignity of woman requires not only a consideration of female sexuality, but also of the capacity of women for intellectual, artistic, moral, and spiritual activity; none of these dimensions are featured in The Vagina Monologues.

Amazing. A Catholic university president -- and a priest at that -- invoking "Roman Catholic teaching" in support of a controversial decision. How did this guy slip past the censors?

Richard Cross holds a doctorate in psychology, who has taught at the university level, including at Franciscan University. He is currently an educational researcher and consultant in the field of psychology and related disciplines.
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