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?

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  • Posted by: - Jan. 20, 2006 1:44 PM ET USA

    What's the address for Providence College???? I want to send them a donation.

  • Posted by: jcl - Jan. 20, 2006 1:28 AM ET USA

    Send the good priest a pat on the mailto:[email protected]

  • Posted by: Cupertino - Jan. 19, 2006 10:38 PM ET USA

    Let us hail this good result based on Catholic moral thinking. The Cardinal Newman Society has been on top of this VM issue for many years and deserves huge credit for keeping "Catholic" college feet to the fire about it.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 19, 2006 6:40 PM ET USA

    Would it violate Canon Law to have this Dominican as President of Norte Dame? Now that would be fun to watch! I think the O.P.s may be making a comeback from the Mathew Fox days. It is possible. After all, there are even good Jesuits.

  • Posted by: Vincit omnia amor - Jan. 19, 2006 6:35 PM ET USA

    a great example of the exception proving the rule... I wouldn't doubt that Providence College sees an increase of donations from it's alumni.

  • Posted by: Patrick461 - Jan. 19, 2006 3:36 PM ET USA

    Tony D The answer to your question is yes: "As former regent of studies for the Dominican Province of St. Joseph, Father Shanley held a seat on the Provincial Council, a body of 12 Dominican Friars serving as cabinet-level advisors to the prior provincial. He advised the prior provincial on all matters pertaining to the intellectual and academic life of the province." You can find a link to his biography when you click on the link Diogenes provided.

  • Posted by: - Jan. 19, 2006 2:35 PM ET USA

    What a breath of fresh air compared to, say, the dreary stale atmosphere of DePaul University, which bills itself as the largest Catholic university in the United States. But fails to mention that it has one of the smallest minds and a imited sense of morality, given its empty boast while presenting again the VM for everyone's utter degradation.

  • Posted by: Tony D - Jan. 19, 2006 2:31 PM ET USA

    Does anyone know if he is from the Dominican Province of St. Joseph based in NY? I recall their House of Studies (i.e., seminary) in Washington, DC was a solidly orthodox place even a decade ago.