not-so-free speech on the Catholic campus

By Diogenes (articles ) | Feb 14, 2008

In San Antonio, devout Catholics complained to the archbishop when St. Mary's University hosted a campaign rally for Senator Hillary Clinton. Clinton's support for abortion, same-sex marriage, and embryonic stem-cell research are a matter of public record, they pointed out. The archbishop was sympathetic. The university was not. The rally went ahead on schedule.

St. Louis University basketball coach Rick Majerus appeared at another Clinton rally and put his own support for abortion on the record. Devout Catholics were scandalized. The archbishop was appalled. But the Jesuit-run university said it was no big deal; Majerus was entitled to his own views.

So it's interesting that in Washington this week, Catholic University stepped in to squash an entire lecture series because some speakers "appear to espouse views that are contrary to the mission and values of Catholic University." What prompted such a decisive response?

The speakers scheduled to appear at Catholic U. were E. Michael Jones, the editor of Culture Wars magazine, and John Sharpe, founder of IHS Press. Both are Catholics-- admittedly of a controversial stripe, but Catholics nonetheless. So what was the complaint against them?

The Southern Poverty Law Center-- a leftist group that has often criticized Catholics-- charges that Jones and Sharpe are "raging anti-Semites." A spokesman for the group claimed: "A simple Google search will show you the frightening ideology of these men."

Go ahead. Try the Google search. Are you convinced? Do you see compelling evidence of anti-Semitism? Anything as clear as Hillary Clinton's voting record?

The question here is not whether you and I agree with Jones and Sharpe, but whether their views are demonstrably at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church. When you're finished with that question, ask yourself why it is that officials at Catholic universities will ignore the plaintive cries of the Catholic laity, but leap to respond to a left-wing pressure group.

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  • Posted by: - Feb. 16, 2008 7:55 PM ET USA

    Di, It would seem to me that what we have here is a clear case of "ambiguous connotation": Just let the boys do their jobs, m'kay? Don't go gettin' all ethical on us now.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 15, 2008 3:48 PM ET USA

    The culture wars in the United States have one victor: the militant left; Devout Catholics need to live theier lives of faithfulness in a hostile environment. The poison of modernism has entered even the Church. How sad, we need to pray and ask the Lord for mercy.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 15, 2008 12:55 PM ET USA

    I wouldn't subscribe any supernatural importance to Notre Dame football ... but maybe, just maybe, their prospects might improve if they would retire Richard McBrien and/or put an end, once and for all, to the annual staging of the "Monologues". As it stands this beautiful place is like Middle Earth living under the tyranny of Mordor. The elves have all but left....

  • Posted by: - Feb. 15, 2008 9:09 AM ET USA

    Catholic U. "disinvited" John Kerry to speak there, although the official word from the Kerry camp was that there were "scheduling conflicts." My oldest attends Catholic U. and although not perfect, it still is better than many. We had a meeting with my other daughter's guidance counselor about which colleges she might like to attend. When I specified that we wanted her to attend a Catholic college he replied, "How about Georgetown?" I laughed and told him I didn't think it qualified.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 14, 2008 7:35 PM ET USA

    The reasons why this is the state of the Left's understanding of "free speech" and academic freedom get a full treatment in "Liberal Fascism". It wasn't so long ago that Catholics were holding out hope that the excesses of the former administration of Catholic University were going to get remedied by O'Connell. We can dismiss notion now.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 14, 2008 7:13 PM ET USA

    The answer to your question is simple: Because the administrators and faculty members themselves are leftist. What's new? How many times has Notre Dame sanctioned "The Vagina Monologues"? Nine, ten years in a row? Guess why.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 14, 2008 6:32 PM ET USA

    Di, Your question is answered in your book "The Faithful Departed". It all started with JFK in Houston. If only we had a hierarchy with the courage to stand up for what the Church teaches and for what thousands of people have died for.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 14, 2008 6:10 PM ET USA

    Jones enjoys pushing buttons and saying things in the most provocative manner possible. However many (most?) of Jones' critics simply launch "ad hominem" broadsides and offer nothing Jones has actually written as part of their argument. He footnotes almost everything he says and you can check out his sources for his arguments many of which (most?) are right on target. They will not "jive" with our PC culture and pseudo-Catholic university environments but neither will the Catholic Faith.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 14, 2008 6:05 PM ET USA

    This is a classic example of a logical fallacy. There is little similarity between Saint Marys University, St Louis University and Catholic University. In fact, the only similarity between them is that the first two claim to be "catholic" - when it is convenient, while the latter actually is Catholic according to canon law. If you can show where Catholic University itself has previously allowed the promotion of views "contrary to the Catholic faith", then you may have a point. Otherwise . .

  • Posted by: - Feb. 14, 2008 5:35 PM ET USA

    ...thinking that views "that are contrary to the mission and values of Catholic University" need not also be "at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church". Glad to see they could relocate to Catholic Information Center downtown...where daily Mass is offered in the chapel, along with daily Confessions and three hours of Eucharistic Adoration, daily...all in all a better venue for a lecture series called "Building Catholic Communities"...

  • Posted by: - Feb. 14, 2008 5:33 PM ET USA

    The answer lies in the type of people who become faculty and heads of universities. They are there mostly because they cannot handle a messy world. Catholic blogsites are replete with whining about leaders, mostly men, who fail over and over to act in a manly way. There are very few Type A personalities (mine!) in Catholicism.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 14, 2008 5:27 PM ET USA

    And Mike has also run an expose of the SPLC, which did nothing to endear him to that bunch of raving lunatics.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 14, 2008 3:49 PM ET USA

    Anti-Catholics groups like the leftist SPLC have, unfortunately, been emboldened by the change in the Good Friday prayers. That they were immediately successful in this anti-Catholic censorship illustrates the danger of changing the church's liturgy based on lobbying from external pressure groups. No one who defends traditional Catholic theology is now safe from the spurious change of anti-semitism.

  • Posted by: - Feb. 14, 2008 2:59 PM ET USA

    As you know perfectly well, Di, the answer to your final question lies in the adjective describing the pressure group. I did Google E. Michael Jones and in 20 or so minuites found nothing to support a charge of anti-Semitism. Though there was a letter from somebody who DID sound a trifle anti-Semitic criticizing Jones for NOT getting into bed with him. (I paraphrase.) A search for Catholic on the SPLC's Website does turn up numerous articles attacking conservative Catholics.