Catholic Culture News
Catholic Culture News

Scratch a Myth, Find a Jesuit

By Dr. Jeff Mirus ( bio - articles - email ) | Jun 22, 2010

They’re at it again. In direct defiance of a directive from New York Archbishop Timothy Dolan, Fr. Joe Costantino, pastor of the Jesuit-run Saint Francis Xavier parish, is insisting that the parish remain involved in promoting and participating in the Gay Pride march in New York on June 27th. The Catholic Lesbians Conference has listed St. Francis Xavier as a “Gay & Lesbian Friendly Parish”, and the parish website maintains that “through our efforts at handing out flyers about our welcoming parish, a number of people find their way to St. Francis Xavier and back to the Catholic Church.” Apparently conversion isn’t required.

A couple of weeks earlier, in the “no help from Rome” department, we found the quasi-official Jesuit journal La Civiltà Cattolica publishing an article praising the U.S. Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act (Obamacare) as “a needed and long awaited beginning of bringing greater justice to all citizens, especially the most vulnerable.” The author, Andrea Vicini, SJ, used to teach moral theology at Boston College. Funny how the US Bishops lobbied against the bill because of its financial support for the murder of those who are most vulnerable of all.

But the connection with Boston College is revealing. Boston College Law School is the place where the brand-new President of Catholic University of America made his administrative reputation. While there he backed the scores of faculty who protested faculty member Scott Fitzgibbon’s efforts to make the case against legal recognition of same-sex marriage. Former Dean and now CUA President John H. Garvey also once answered questions about academic freedom at Boston College by saying “No school that regulates ideas can justly call itself a university.” I guess his BC Law School faculty never got the memo.

But really the point isn’t so much regulating ideas as hiring people who possess both a fairly clear idea of the truth and a serious interest in applying the truth in their particular line of study—and, of course, firing those who don't. Why would a Catholic university, which supposedly believes the highest and most certain truths are found in the teachings of the Catholic Church, think that it can successfully “search for truth in an atmosphere of academic freedom” by constantly hiring those who neither accept nor even respect the highest and most certain truths known to man?

Garvey’s argument cannot be made among Catholics, because Catholics have a leg up on the whole question. Those whose minds already conform to reality in the most fundamental respects are presumably incapable of doing something as stupid as seeking to hire teachers whose minds do not conform to reality in the most fundamental respects. They’d also be reluctant to obfuscate by calling this, as John Garvey called it, “the search for truth.” Well, admittedly, John Garvey is not a Jesuit, but he was largely catapulted to fame by a Jesuit school. It’s a double shame because the previous president, Vincentian David O’Connell, had made real progress in getting Catholic University back on track.

Unfortunately, following the most prominent contemporary news stories about the intellectual oddities—not to say queerness—of the Society of Jesus nearly always leads one back into the labyrinth of the modern crisis of Faith. There are good Jesuits out there, of course, but they are often marginalized by their own Order. What to do? Though we’ve suffered this for half a century, the apparent answer thus far is that nobody knows. Prayer perhaps?

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: samuel.doucette1787 - Jun. 24, 2010 8:10 AM ET USA

    Wild Bill, given the troubles the Legionaries of Christ are going through, I wouldn't exactly hold them up as the model of how to fix the Jesuits. While not a religious order, Opus Dei members (lay and priestly) already run a Catholic university in Spain (University of Navarre) and could do a much better job of running BC and other Jesuit institutions.

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Jun. 23, 2010 11:55 PM ET USA

    There are things that can be done. The Pope could've intervened in the General Chapter and appointed his own man. He can replace Provincials in problem areas like the U.S. He can insist on the imposition of ecclesiastical penalties on Jesuits who defy Church teaching and discipline. This has to be done to help clean out the Order. The Jesuits are infiltrated with dissenters on homosexuality on morality in general. That has to be dealt with.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 23, 2010 12:57 PM ET USA

    I agree. How long, O Lord, will you keep your face turned from us? Suppress the Society of Jesus and reconstitute it like the Legion of Christ.

  • Posted by: Defender - Jun. 23, 2010 10:57 AM ET USA

    I'm quite sure that a suppression petition would bring thousands of signatures from Catholics, but the thought of BC Law School (et al) coming to the Jesuits' defense would be too much. Too, the new president of CUA as the lead attorney (or as head cheerleader) would be quite a scene.

  • Posted by: sparch - Jun. 23, 2010 9:48 AM ET USA

    Freedom, acedemic or otherwise, is always defined and limited by the rules that define that freedom. To have no limits is to live without the law. Defining the law is what allows all of us, our institutions and community, live in freedom. So much can a Catholic academic law school understand the context of what they are teaching!

  • Posted by: samuel.doucette1787 - Jun. 23, 2010 8:21 AM ET USA

    I agree with Defender. Suppress the Jesuits again! Give control of their institutions to an orthodox Church organization.

  • Posted by: - Jun. 22, 2010 9:39 PM ET USA

    Whenever I read about the damage the so-called catholics are doing to Jesus' Church I cringe that nothing is being done to cast them off; but then I pray and come to the conclusion that the Holy Father doesn't have to do anything. In Jesus' eyes they have ex-communicated themselves. There doesn't have to be a piece of paper to that effect. Just think what the Blessed Mother thinks when another of her children is aborted. Her sorrow must be hard to imagine.

  • Posted by: jim.tramonte3115 - Jun. 22, 2010 8:25 PM ET USA

    As one educated in a Jesuit High School and fed by the Spiritual Exercises, I continue to have my heart broken by one Jesuit after another. Irrespecitve of the issue, the one common and most troubling theme is insubordination to authority. Ironically, it was Ignatius who founded the order in support of the pope. St. Ignatius is turning in his grave. I pray that they return to their original charisms.

  • Posted by: Defender - Jun. 22, 2010 7:05 PM ET USA

    The Jesuits do seem to like to put their foot in their mouths (there was another one questioning Transubstantiation a little while ago, too)- someone should construct a list.... It seems that, if the bishops can't control their own dioceses, maybe we should go back a couple of hundred years (1773) and give them another "time out" - just as we do with children, many of them need to relearn their catechism and what it also means to "give scandal."