Action Alert!

In the Jesuit Tradition

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Dec 23, 2009

Catholic World News has been highlighting recently those colleges and universities which claim the Catholic name but recommend positions with Planned Parenthood to students as a career option. If you haven’t been watching this stream of stories closely, you may have missed the fact that the ante was upped considerably by yesterday’s report that a former CEO in the Planned Parenthood network has been a member of Georgetown University’s nursing faculty since 2005.

Any association of this type on the part of a Catholic university is, of course, reprehensible, but it adds insult to injury that the woman in question, Roberta Lynn Geidner-Antoniotti, teaches in the nursing program. Apparently Georgetown is in the forefront of the contemporary redefinition of health care to include murder.

So why does this story fail to shock? Because we’re talking about a Jesuit university, where this sort of thing has been par for the course now for a generation. Dissent from Catholic magisterial teaching, subtle advocacy of bioethical horrors, and facilitation of deviant sexual lifestyles on campus have become hallmarks of Jesuit higher education in the United States, just as they have become (though in somewhat more muted form) hallmarks of leadership in the Society of Jesus more generally, including deliberate resistance to Vatican directives to keep gay men out of the priesthood.

The late and truly great Fr. Richard John Neuhaus, founding editor of First Things, highlighted over the years considerable evidence of the Jesuit failure to be Catholic. In doing so, he also noted repeatedly that there was a growing tendency of Jesuit schools to describe their educational programs as being “in the Jesuit tradition” rather than “in the Catholic tradition”. This eventually got so bad that the phrase “in the Jesuit tradition” became a bit of coded black humor indicating something that is most definitely not in the Catholic tradition. Hence the title of this entry. Informed Catholics won’t have to read beyond the title to understand the point.

The good news is that there are still quite a few extraordinarily holy and brilliant Jesuits around, just the kind of men the Order was originally founded to produce. The bad news is that all of them agree with this assessment of their Order, and they are unable to do anything whatsoever about it. I’ve written recently of the Apostolic Visitation of American seminaries, of American women religious, and of the Legion of Christ. Though there is no guarantee of success, such visitations are always a sign of hope. My hope is that the Society of Jesus will be next.

Jeffrey Mirus holds a Ph.D. in intellectual history from Princeton University. A co-founder of Christendom College, he also pioneered Catholic Internet services. He is the founder of Trinity Communications and See full bio.

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  • Posted by: - Dec. 24, 2009 9:29 AM ET USA

    How would St. Ignatius feel about this?? It seems that over a course of a few hundred years, organizations, religious or not, tend to become liberal and conform to modern society versus a continued upholding of moral standards.

  • Posted by: gallardo.vm5565 - Dec. 23, 2009 6:58 PM ET USA

    I wrote to Fordham back in Sep. 09, just on my own, about Ms. Couric's visit and her views on abortion. Here's how Robert Howe responded: "We believe this points to a vibrant culture of engagement with the real world, rather than an insufficiency of Catholic teaching. Our day-to-day business is educating students in the Jesuit tradition:" — I wish I could send you the whole email trace; I used your website for it all. God Bless Fr. Mitch Pacwa, S.J.

  • Posted by: ltoscan2645 - Dec. 23, 2009 12:53 PM ET USA

    I am a member of a Jesuit parish and it pains me to attend mass, I never know what innovations may come up: everyone to wash their feet on Holy Thursday, the lay communion ministers and altar servers receive the blessed sacrament around the altar before the congregation, priest asks the congregation to say the prayer of peace after the exchange of peace, lay preachers for the homliy, a hurried eucharistic prayer, jokes and chatter form the choir director before mass is over. St Ignatius help!