Saturday, September 17, 2011

USF’s Privett to discuss “The Role of the Catholic University in the Church” at Most Holy Redeemer

On September 17, Fr. Stephen A. Privett, SJ, President of the (Jesuit) University of San Francisco, will be speaking at San Francisco’s Most Holy Redeemer Church. Fr. Privett’s subject will be “The Role of the Catholic University in the Church.” Exactly what qualifies Fr. Privett to speak authoritatively about a “Catholic” University is not immediately apparent. The ostensible qualification would be Privett’s presidency of USF, but Catholicness is not a defining trait of the University of San Francisco--and there is no sign that it is desired to be. Under Fr. Privett’s tenure, USF has moved to relegate Catholicism to just another among an aggregate of beliefs, theories, or values.

The very word Catholic no longer appears on the University’s homepage. Wiccan/Pagan holidays appear next to Christian holidays on the “Holy Days” calendar of the University’s Campus Ministry. The Director of the Catholic Studies Minor is the Reverend Vincent Pizzuto, who abandoned his Catholic faith and had himself ordained a priest in the Celtic Catholic Church. The attitude toward Catholicism was crystallized with the 2008 removal of confessionals from the university’s church, St. Ignatius. The confessionals were replaced with an art gallery. Fr. Privett himself removed any doubt on how USF views itself while discussing USF’s new logo and tagline on August 18: “We want the University of San Francisco to be the heart and soul of the city: to serve as a voice of reason tempered by compassion and driven by values.”

Pope Benedict himself could not ask for a clearer expression of the dictatorship of relativism. The statement is empty: whatever content it acquires will be “driven by values.” But what are “values”?

“Values” or “value judgments” as professor Eric Voegelin pointed out in 1947, “…were not part of the philosophical vocabulary before the second half of the nineteenth century. The notion of a value-judgment is meaningless in itself; it gains its meaning from a situation in which it is opposed to judgments concerning facts.” That opposition was created through the belief “..that only propositions concerning facts of the phenomenal world were ‘objective,’ while judgments concerning the right order of soul and society were ‘subjective’…incapable of critical verification and therefore devoid of objective validity.” But such a classification, according to Voegelin “…could be accepted only by thinkers who did not master the classic and Christian science of man. For neither classic nor Christian ethics and politics contain ‘value-judgments’ but elaborate, empirically and critically, the problems of order which derive from philosophical anthropology as part of a general ontology.”

If we accept Voegelin's judgement, Privett’s replacement of truth with “values” indicates either an inability, or more likely, an unwillingness to “master the classic and Christian science of man.” Not because it is difficult—Privett is surely a superbly educated man—but because that science actually gives answers, some of which may be hard to accept.

But the puzzle of why it is Fr. Privett, of all people, who should be discussing “the role of the Catholic University in the Church” is solved once one remembers where, of all places, the lecture is being held: San Francisco’s Most Holy Redeemer. There are of course a number of ties between the two institutions, which we have documented thoroughly on our sister website "Homosexual Activism in the Archdiocese of San Francisco."

In 2006, MHR hosted the university’s “Queer Perspectives: Is it Ethical to Be Catholic?” seminar, featuring the aforementioned Reverend Vincent Pizzuto. In 2009, MHR was scheduled to host the homosexualist propaganda play “Be Still and Know” performed by the students of Sacred Heart of Atherton. When Archbishop Niederauer was made aware of this, he caused the play to be cancelled. When MHR could not host the play, USF, against the Archbishop’s wishes, allowed the play to be performed at their Presentation Theater. Fr. Donal Godfrey, SJ, author of “Gays and Grays: the Story of the Gay Community at Most Holy Redeemer Parish” served for a time as USF’s Executive Director of University Ministry until last year.

The common denominator at both USF and MHR seems to be that neither is, at bottom, oriented by Catholicism—they see the Church as one part of a larger reality, admirable in some things, useful in some things, but not an authoritative or truth-possessing institution. In fact the Church’s claim to possess truth is seen as itself a problem. Based on the actions of USF combined with the hosting of the event at MHR, we conclude that “The role of the ‘Catholic’ University in the Church ” is seen as: a) to cease being Catholic, and b) to develop theoretical arguments for the undermining of the Church.

Posted by Gibbons J. Cooney

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Excellent analysis.