Yesterday, Saturday May 19th, the Archdiocese of Washington issued another statement in the form of an on-line Editorial in the Catholic Standard, the official paper of record, for the Archdiocese. The office of the Vicar General has encouraged priests and other leaders to share it.
The editorial was written in response to the an editorial in the Washington Post which alleged, among other things that the Archdiocese was interfering with academic freedom and suggest that a Catholic university should be something more than a voice of the Church.
As with these unsigned editorials in the Catholic Standard in the past, the exact author is unknown, but it is surely written and/or approved by the Cardinal’s senior staff and, as such is an official statement of the Archdiocese.
Since we have followed the events at Georgetown closely, I want to print excerpts of the editorial, by way of keeping us up to date. As is usual I will print the editorial in Bold Black italics and include comments of my own in red normal face type. These are excerpts, the full editorial is here: Catholic Standard On-Line
The Washington Post editorial (May 16, 2012)….missed the point….What this discussion is all about is not academic freedom, university autonomy or disinviting speakers…
When it was announced that Secretary Sebelius was invited to speak at Georgetown University, a Catholic university sponsored by the Society of Jesus, the university stated that [she] was among those “who will provide inspiration for our students as they envision more clearly the impact they can make in the world.”
It is one thing for a Catholic University to permit a vigorous discussion of issues, even permitting those who oppose the Church’s teaching or have different views. This is sometimes an understandable vehicle in the Academic setting to air differences and to engage in the “free exchange of ideas.”
Of course the essential goal, it would seem, on a Catholic campus would be for the Catholic position in such debates to be clearly and vigorously presented in such debates. Indeed, to provide motives of credibility and an encouragement to the students as to why Catholic teaching is both reasonable and superior to various errors of the day.
Georgetown however, speaks of Mrs. Sebelius as an “inspiration” to the students. She is not an inspiration and no Catholic university should speak of her in such a way. She is an unrepentant cheerleader for abortion. As Governor of Kansas she vetoed numerous bills passed by the legislature to secure reasonable limits to abortion, including parental notification, and even modest restrictions on late term abortions. Bishop Joseph Naumann in Kansas suggested she refrain from receiving communion.
She had also been close to the infamous George Tiller, known as Tiller, the baby killer, since he probably killed more that 60,000 babies, most of them late term. She has accepted more than $12,000 in campaign contributions from him and had him as a guest at the Governor’s Mansion.
Now as HHS Secretary, she has chosen to wage war against religious liberty, and is the architect of the HHS mandate currently being opposed by the Bishops and the Church, and credibly described as the greatest threat to religious liberty of our time.
She is no inspiration to anyone, other than fellow enemies of the Church and the unborn. If she has made an impact it cannot be described as good in any Catholic or Christian sense. Georgetown’s boosterism of her is shameful.
There was considerable negative reaction to this decision. [And] when the controversy surfaced, the Archdiocese chose to refrain from any comment until Cardinal Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, personally could meet with the Provincial Superior of the Society of Jesus and separately with the president of the university.…After hearing both parties, the archdiocese requested only one thing. It asked that since the university presents itself as both Jesuit and Catholic, that the leadership of the Society of Jesus and the president of the university simply state publicly that Secretary Sebelius’ positions do not represent the views and values of Georgetown University.
Many of you alleged that the Cardinal was “doing nothing.” Others demanded he take to the pulpit or at least a podium and denounce Georgetown. Still others demanded swift and sweeping action against the University.
All of this is emotionally understandable, and I share in the anger most of you experience about Georgetown.
That said, the Church seldom addresses inner conflicts in such public ways. The Cardinal, especially, is a careful and methodical man, keenly aware of the powers and limits that Canon Law sets forth for an ordinary.
Georgetown University is not an Archdiocesan organization. It is owned and run by the Jesuits and has its own governing boards. As can be seen here, the Cardinal has currently met with the Provincial Superior and the lay president of the University. What was said in those meetings is not public, but surely among the things the Cardinal insisted on must be what this editorial sets forth. Namely that, in the future, Georgetown University refrain from affirming such figures, and when they do speak, issue that Georgetown issue a clear disclaimer that such speakers do NOT represent the views of the University.
This amounts to a kind of truth in advertising. For the free exchange of ideas can have a place, even on Catholic Campuses, but the position of a Catholic Campus cannot be neutral or equivocal when it comes to matters of faith and morals.
I understand that this is not nearly enough for some of you who read this blog regularly. Many of you have a preference for swift and sweeping action to include: immediate removal of Catholic identity, insistence that leaders at Georgetown be immediately removed and replaced, interdict, etc.
However, as I have stated, this is not usually the way the Church proceeds. Canon Law is very methodical and carefully delineates the rights of all parties, not just bishops. And bishops who do act in such swift and sweeping manners do not usually prevail when things are appealed.
The Cardinal is a careful and a thoughtful man, with deep respect for Canon Law. He is also, certainly, no media hog. He prefers quiet, persistent, and behind the scenes actions that follow proper procedures.
There are some of you who have opined that souls are being lost. Perhaps, but it is possible that many souls would also be lost if swift and sweeping were the Church’s normal mode. As I tried to show in a post last week (HERE), there are different scriptural traditions about Church discipline, and great prudence is required as to when and how to proceed in uprooting sin and error from the Church scene.
But the point here is to note that discussions are on-going, behind the scene. We get only a glimpse of them here in the editorial, but it is false to say the Cardinal is doing “nothing.” He is proceeding with care, but he is moving the ball, and call the issue.
The archdiocese never asked Georgetown to rescind its invitation. All that the archdiocese proposed – and did not require – was a statement, by those who represent to the public and to the Church both the Jesuit and Catholic character of the university, that the commencement event speaker does not speak for or represent the values of Georgetown University.
To those wanting swift and sweeping action, this aspect of the editorial will likely infuriate. But here again, Georgetown University is owned and run by the Jesuits. And, while they do have responsibilities to the Archbishop, final conflicts, where they exist between the Jesuits and the Cardinal, are adjudicated in Rome.
Some years ago, Cardinal James Hickey finally referred a conflict to Rome wherein Georgetown had approved and funded a pro-abortion student group. This took place presumably (I do not recall the full sequence of events) after conversations with the University leadership. And when the proper results were not obtained the matter was taken to the Jesuit superior in Rome and to several Roman congregations. Together they ruled that Georgetown must remove the status and funding from the group.
Perhaps, this will happen here if troubles continue. I am no prophet, but Cardinal, careful and methodical man that he is, is clearly working the steps necessary, from the standpoint of subsidiarity, and, if troubles continue, I have little doubt it will go to the next necessary level.
It is the responsibility of the archbishop to relate to both the provincial superior and the president of the university in matters that affect the life of the Church in this archdiocese. While the archbishop does not engage in the internal affairs of governance of the Society of Jesus or Georgetown University, in Church teaching and law he is obliged to relate to both communities as they exercise public ministry as a part of the life of the Catholic Church. [And] Georgetown University as a Catholic university does have a relationship and a responsibility to the archbishop. This is true because it exercises its activities in the context of the overall mission of the Catholic Church.
Here too we see illustrated both subsidiarity and responsibility. While the Cardinal rightfully refrains from micro-managing Georgetown University (subsidiarity) he does expect Georgetown to maintain and fulfill its relationship to him as the local ordinary (responsibility).
While diplomatically stated it seems clear to me that the Cardinal does not expect in the future to read about such controversial invitations with significant impact on the “overall mission of the Catholic Church” in the newspaper.
Admittedly, ecclesial relationships that respect and deal with various levels of responsibility and autonomy in the Church are not always readily understood by secular media. … And, I would add, many of us Catholics who struggle to see the Church differently from a political or civic entity.
Finally, just a personal word from me about the Canon “lawsuit” that has been brought by William Peter Blatty, who graduated from Georgetown in 1950 and is author of The Exorcist. I am personally in favor of anyone turning up the heat on the Georgetown administration. I also know several good students and faculty over there at Georgetown who welcome the overture. And, while no expert in Canon Law myself, I presume Mr. Blatty has availed himself of good counsel and thinks he is able to bring such a suit and prevail. I have great respect for the Cardinal Newman Society, that, among others is assisting him in this matter.
Time will tell of the specifics of his case. But here too, I think expecting quick results may be unrealistic of readers. Church Tribunals, as I have said, are “methodical.” But what Mr. Blatty will hopefully illustrate, is that Catholic Laity have power too. Not only can they bring formal grievances, and canonical suits in certain circumstances, but they can also hit what they consider “Catholic in Name Only” institutions (not only colleges) hard through reaching out to alumni, donors and other interested parties.
I do think however, one must remember that even places like Georgetown are not wholly bad. They still do have faculty and students highly dedicated to God and the Church. Groups like the Cardinal Newman Society are careful in their analysis, and when there is an rare error in a report of theirs, they correct it and publicize the correction. So, while Catholics are free to engage in advocacy for their concerns, Charity and justice are an important element.
With that in mind, comments are open (Caritas!)
In this video, I am amazed that though the singers look so young, their voices are very mature. The deep bass is especially amazing since the deep and rich bass voice does not usually develop in a man until much later in life. Younger basses usually can hit the notes, but have a kind of “buzzing” sound on the lower notes. Not so here! A deep rich sound.