Thursday, October 27, 2005

Catholic Institutions- what's the point?

Duquesne University student Ryan Miner has been threatened with expulsion for expressing his disgust with the gay lifestyle in a private forum, Facebook.com. The biggest surprise is not that his conservative views are being censored, but that they are being censored by the administration of a Catholic university! This university seems not to understand the role they have in preserving and upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church in the running of their institution of higher education.

First of all, Facebook.com is a private forum. In order to participate in it, however, your university must agree and register with them, and participating students must do so with a college-issued e-mail address. The first purpose of this forum is so that students could link with others in their classes for the sake of academics, but it has grown to be a favored extracurricular activity for many students.

Despite the fact that it is recognized by the individual school, is quite surprising that the administration of the university would take a comment written on the forum so... seriously. This student was merely expressing his rights to free speech in a forum, one of the first rights guaranteed to citizens. The only little problem is that private institutions do have the right to censorship. That is where this story beings to shock us, however, because the views expressed by this student are consistent with Catholic moral teaching... and, remember, Duquesne is a Catholic school!

Surprising, yet again, is that there are plenty of things that actually are offensive on Facebook. Though I am not a member myself, my little brother and my best friend from high school eat, sleep and breathe Facebook. To me, it seems like an addiction. It appears much like a personals ad, but it is also a place to show what you are really worth: what you do, how many friends you have, what you believe, etc. Because of these two people, I have been able to spend time on Facebook on several occasions. I was not surprised to see things that offended me, from pictures to quotes to sexual innuendos. Personally, I am more worried about these things! If there is going to be censorship, at least let there be equal rights in censorship, and let those who post these things be disciplined as well. But, the administration of the participating universities hardly takes note of these radically immoral views. On the contrary, the attack those expressing Christian moral values.

This situation points to a much larger problem that gained much attention during the fierce battles waged before the '04 presidential elections: there is much resistance from Catholic institutions to properly represent her teachings, most notably her teachings on morality. Perhaps prophetically, Pope John Paul II issued a letter in June '04 to several Catholic bishops who were on their ad limina visit to Rome. This letter served as a reminder of the role of Catholic institutions, as outlined in his 1990 encyclical Ex Cordia Ecclesiae. This letter reminds the bishops of their role in ensuring that all of the Catholic institutions, from universities to hospitals to charitable organizations, are following all of the teachings of the Church in the course of their work. He outlines the role of all of these institutions as places that

must not only assist the faithful to think and act fully in accordance with the Gospel, overcoming every separation between faith and life (cf. Christifideles Laici, n. 34), but they must themselves embody a clear corporate testimony to its saving truth. This will demand constantly re-examining their priorities in the light of their mission and offering a convincing witness within a pluralistic society to the Church's teaching, particularly on respect for human life, marriage and family, and the right ordering of public life.


One section of the letter specifically addresses Catholic colleges and universities. John Paul II refers to the distinction of a Catholic school as possessing a unique identity.

A truly Catholic education will aim at an integration of knowledge within the context of a vision of the human person and the world which is enlightened by the Gospel. By their very nature, Catholic colleges and universities are called to offer an institutional witness of fidelity to Christ and to his word as it comes to us from the Church, a public witness expressed in the canonical requirement of the mandatum.


Furthermore, John Paul II quotes his earlier document sternly reminding these institutions of higher education that if they stray from their role in preserving and promoting Catholicism, they are abandoning the very essence of their work.

These institutions should be at the forefront of the Church's dialogue with culture, for "a faith which remains on the margins of culture would be a faith unfaithful to the fullness of what the word of God manifests and reveals, a truncated faith, and even worse, a faith in the process of self-destruction" (Ex Corde Ecclesiae, n. 44).


To meet the needs of the Church in this area, the Cardinal Newman Society works to promote these teachings. Thank God for their hard work and dedication! Please take a moment to visit their website.

So, what is the point of Catholic institutions? To proclaim the Gospel!

1 comment:

  1. Related to this, please read of the situation happening in a Catholic high school on the other side of the country.

    Great job to Katelyn Sills and her mother Wynette!!

    ReplyDelete