From today's San Francisco Chronicle:
"The University of San Francisco has canceled its master's in theology program, provoking a bitter disagreement about what it means for the future of the university.
Some faculty, alumni and students connected to the program say the university is losing the graduate degree most closely linked with its Jesuit Catholic mission. They say the closure is the culmination of a series of actions eroding the institution's Catholic identity.
Yes, it is.But USF President Stephen Privett, a Jesuit priest for 38 years, said such broad statements misconstrue the nature of the university as it tries to engage with a rapidly changing world. "It would be simplistic to reduce the Catholic character to any single program," Privett said in an interview.....
Several former and current faculty in the department of theology and religious studies worry that the greater damage may be to USF's identity as a Catholic institution, which they say has been diminished over the past decade.
Yes, it has.
The university requires that undergraduates take only one course in religious studies. That means that a single course about Buddhism, for example, might be the full exposure a student may get at USF, San Francisco's premier Catholic educational institution. Department supporters say this means USF has the weakest religious studies requirement of any of the 28 Jesuit universities and colleges in the nation.
"If we require only one course at the undergraduate level, and we're canceling the M.A. program, what does that say about our Catholic identity?" asked the Rev. Dan Kendall, a professor in the department for 30 years.
It says the "Catholic identity" is just about non-existent, Father.
But Fr. Privett is not worried:
"Privett says the opponents are misguided. Since he came to the university nine years ago, Privett said he's added an undergraduate minor in Catholic studies and opened the Lane Center for Catholic Studies and Social Thought. "
That Fr. Privett chose to single out the Lane Center is instructive. Here is a sample of "Lane Center" events (reading backwards) over the past three years. Follow any of the links for full documentation.
March 9, 2009: The Lane Center hosted ex-priest (and, according to the Cardinal Newman Society, same-sex "married) Professor James Nickoloff: “'Intrinsically Disordered': The Role of the Despised in Establishing the Holiness of the Church. A community conversation exploring gay marriage and Catholic identity in light of Proposition 8. Sponsored with the USF LGBTQ Caucus.”
June 15, 2008: The Lane Center (in conjunction with "Voice of the Faithful Northern California) hosted ex-priest Paul Lakeland at a seminar entitled "How the Laity Can save the Church? Lakeland is best known for his support of Connecticut's recent attempt to have lay persons take over the governance of the Catholic Church.
June 13, 2008: The Lane Center hosts Australian Bishop Geoffrey Robinson, depite Archbishop George Niederauer's orders that he not speak at Catholic institutions in the Archdiocese.
October 30, 2008: On October 30, USF's Lane Center for Catholic Studies and Social Thought hosted professor and abortion advocate Sylvia Marcos. Marcos believes in working to make abortion legal in countries where it is illegal.
March 10, 2008: The Lane Center sponsors a screening of "For the Bible Tells Me So"--film challenging church teaching on homosexuality.
October 20, 2007: Julia Dowd, Associate Director of the Lane Center (and other USF Faculty) attends "OutThere" conference at De Paul University
May 23, 2007: The Lane Center hosts "Religion and Sexuality: What's the Connection" activists planning session. Guest speakers included the Rev. Ignacio Castuera, President of the Clergy Network of Planned Parenthood and the Rev. Lisa Sargeant, Chaplain of Planned Parenthood Golden Gate.
March 29, 2006: The Lane Center sponsors the "Alienated Catholics: Establishing the Groundwork for Dialog" seminar at S. Agnes parish.
February 12, 2006: The Lane Center sponsors the "Is it Ethical to Be Catholic? Queer Perspectives." seminar at Most Holy Redeemer parish.
That is what Fr. Privett cites as an example of "Catholic" education.
But we must respectfully point out that our last three Archbishops have been publicly silent about all of this.
Posted by Gibbons J. Cooney