Departing President Gives Farewell Interview
The winter 2013 issue of USF Magazine, the magazine of the (Jesuit) University of San Francisco, profiled the school’s departing President, Fr. Stephen A. Privett. The interview began:
“USF President Stephen A. Privett, S.J., believes the time has come for new leadership at the university. Now in his 14th year as president—one of the longest tenures in USF history—he has formally announced that he will not renew his contract. This decision is not a surprise. When he renewed his contract in 2009, the USF Board of Trustees reluctantly agreed that his third five-year term would also be his last. The board has launched a search for Fr. Privett’s successor. Fr. Privett is a man of conviction, and he says what he thinks. That was on full display in his three-hour interview with USF Magazine.”
The laudatory interview mentioned almost none of the things that readers of the Cardinal Newman Society, LifeSiteNews, or California Catholic Daily would associate with Fr. Privett’s name. An exception was a question about “The Vagina Monologues.” When asked “Why does USF stage the Vagina Monologues when other Catholic universities have banned it?” Privett began his response: “As I tell our students, the Vagina Monologues has all the appeal of the annual grammar school Christmas pageant. It’s the same old thing year after year….”
Privett’s comparison of sixth graders singing Silent Night to a play which includes an approving scene of a teenager being sexually abused by an adult can be interpreted in one of three ways.
If we take him seriously, Privett either means he finds a play which approves of teenagers being sexually abused by adults as cute as sixth graders singing Silent Night. Alternatively, it can mean that he finds sixth graders singing Silent Night as disgusting as a play which approves of teenagers being sexually abused by adults.
The third possibility is that he is speaking ironically. In that case, it’s the response of a jaded sophisticate, way too hip and morally blasé to understand why either Eve Ensler or faithful Catholics would take “The Vagina Monologues” seriously, let alone why anyone at all might take a “grammar school Christmas pageant” seriously. He is not concerned with the content of “The Vagina Monologues” nor of a grammar school Christmas pageant but only that it’s “the same old thing year after year….”
The comment crystallizes Fr. Privett’s enfeebled sense of morality. It is a fitting coda to his Presidency.
The article also included a timeline of USF events during his presidency that either the interviewer or Privett thought important. The timeline did not include the closing of the school’s graduate program in Theology; the disemboweling of the school’s St. Ignatius Institute; the appointment as Chair of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies an open homosexual who left the Catholic Church to be ordained priest in a “Catholic” church not in communion with Rome; or the appointment of an open homosexual as Executive Director of University Ministry. It also did not list the hosting of any number of speakers, conferences, and guests, far too many to name here, who hold and promote positions in direct opposition to the Catholic faith, nor did it indicate that on at least two occasions speakers/groups were hosted in direct opposition to the wishes of then-Archbishop George Niederauer.
The search for a new President of the Jesuit University is underway. Those interested may visit: https://www.usfca.edu/presidentialsearch/ The webpage also accepts nominations for the position.