Monday, January 19, 2009

USF Update/Proposition 8

As has been pointed out, the homosexual activist fifth-columnists within the Archdiocese of San Francisco attack on three fronts: Most Holy Redeemer is their spiritual front (don’t laugh, it really is); Catholic Charities is their activist front; and the Jesuit University of San Francisco is their ideological front.

USF has been inactive in the fight to defend marriage in California, and that in itself is significant. That a Catholic University should declare itself neutral when every Bishop in California was in the battle for marriage and the family, over what the Holy Father has called a “non-negotiable” issue, would be bad enough, but in point of fact the Jesuits of USF are on the other side.

Before the November election there were only two public actions/statements from USF that could be said to pertain to the issue. The first was the naming of Fr. James Keenan, SJ as 2008 Summer Scholar-in-Residence at the University. Keenan is best known for arguing “as a Catholic moral theologian” before the Massachusetts legislature against Resolution H. 3190—in effect, arguing in favor of same-sex “marriage.” The late, great Fr. Richard John Neuhaus shredded Fr. Keenan’s arguments in the pages of First Things.

The second was a statement made by Fr. Donal Godfrey, the Executive Director of University Ministry at USF, in the San Francisco Chronicle. Fr. Godfrey attempted to undercut the teaching of Archbishop George Niederauer on the issue of marriage by asserting that the Archbishop did not really believe what he was saying, that he was simply parroting the Vatican line:

"The bishops must feel pressure to go along," he said. "There aren't that many going around campaigning for (Prop. 8). I think they signed off on (the e-mail) and hoped it ends soon."


All of which brings us to an upcoming event at USF’s Lane Center for Catholic Studies and Social Thought, presented on March 9, by 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.”

“Sponsored with the USF LGBTQ Caucus.” I wonder what their take on Proposition 8 will be?

Who is James Nickoloff? He’s an Emeritus Professor at Holy Cross University and a Bannan Fellow at Santa Clara University. He was in the news this past November when Holy Cross held a “Rainbow Alliance Week.”

The Cardinal Newman Society of Holy Cross covered “Rainbow Alliance Week.” Among other things, the event included a series of panel discussions. According to the Cardinal Newman Society’s website, one of the panels was:

"Tuesday, November 6th: ABiGaLe panel at 7:30 pm in Hogan Suite A. The panel is on homosexuality and the Bible, featuring Prof. Nickoloff who is a former Jesuit, openly homosexual and married to his homosexual partner in Massachusetts…”

The Society’s page further says:

“Prof. James Nickoloff, of the Religious Studies department, is a former Jesuit priest who told a student group in November that he was personally engaged in homosexuality and 'married' in the state of Massachusetts to another man.”

We were unable to find independent confirmation that Nickoloff is same-sex “married” in the state of Massachusetts. But it would not be totally improbable, because we did learn:

• On May 14, 2004, Nickoloff was signatory to a document by a group of Catholics addressing the court imposition of same-sex marriage on the people of Massachusetts. Although ambiguously worded, given the context the document can only be read as an endorsement of same-sex “marriage.”

• In September, 2006, Nickoloff led a Focus Group (PDF) at the 13th Annual Conference of the National Association of Diocesan Gay and Lesbian Ministries in Brooklyn, NY;

• On April 11, 2007, Nickoloff was a signatory to the “Fortunate Families” letter to the United States Catholic Bishops. You can find out about “Fortunate Families” by going here.

The description of the “Intrinsically Disordered” event on the Lane Center’s website describes it as a “community conversation.” Will any of the Jesuits at USF stand up, in their own University, for Church teaching on sexuality, and will they defend natural marriage?

• Will Fr. Godfrey? I doubt it. Following the election, Fr. Godfrey stated in the pages of the Catholic San Francisco that he 'personally opposed Prop 8 which is a matter of conscience…'

• Or will we hear from the pastor of St. Agnes Church, Fr. Cameron Ayers, SJ? Will he walk the six blocks from St. Agnes to USF to defend Catholic teaching? I doubt it. Fr. Ayers donated $100 to the campaign against Proposition 8.

• Or will we hear from Fr. Stephen Privett, the President of the University? I doubt it. Father President did not say a public word about Proposition 8 that I am aware of, although in his Baccalaureate homily of 2003 to the students of USF, he chose to illustrate Matthew 5:10 “Blessed are they who are persecuted for the sake of righteousness…” with the example of a student who “came out” about his homosexuality.

• Or will we hear from Fr. James T. Bretzke, Professor of Moral Theology at the University? I doubt it. When two Sisters of Perpetual Indulgence embarrassed our Archbishop and caused worldwide scandal by presenting themselves for communion at Most Holy Redeemer, the Professor of Moral Theology said: "Over-accessorizing and poor taste in makeup is not an excommunicable offense."

• Or will we hear from Fr. Vincent Pizzuto, Assistant Professor of Theology and Religious Studies at the University? I doubt it, but to do him justice, when Fr. Pizzuto found he was unable to adhere to the teaching of the Catholic Church he did the honorable thing: he left the Church and was ordained as a Priest of the “Celtic Christian Church” which is not in communion with Rome. (Incidentally, his ordination is nowhere mentioned on the USF website.) That means, according to Canon 833, (clauses 6 & 7), that he should not be allowed to teach philosophy or theology at a Catholic University. But you can hardly blame Fr. Pizzuto for that-- it is the fault of those at USF whose responsibility it is to see that Catholic doctrine is what is taught at their school of Theology.

Certainly, we may be wrong. Some Jesuits from USF may attend "Intrinsically Disordered..." and defend Church teaching. We will wait and see.

Posted by Gibbons J. Cooney


Anonymous said...

There is no hope for the Jesuits and no hope for USF.

Rebecca Frech said...

We will continue to pray that Californians choose to reject the nonsense coming out of Most Holy Redeemer and return to the One True Faith, the Holy Catholic Church.

You do such good work, Father. You are a light in the wilderness.

God Bless you,
the Mom

Anonymous said...

Gibbons, you are The Man. I hope this is cited in a canonical lawsuit coming soon. Hope, hope!

Antonio said...

I am a 2009 USF graduate. I am a practicing Roman Catholic. I find many of the comments full of sarcasm, which is but a mechanism to disguise anger and ill thoughts and sentiments. This is a childish manner in which to act, which is what we are called to leave behind, "our childish ways". Maybe engaging in Centering Prayer, as instructed by Prof. Pizzuto, and as Thomas Keating says, through such a practice, rid ourselves from childhood emotional programming, which is the source of such a mechanism. This is what I learned at USF, Catholic Tradition from such sources as Thomas Keating,St. John of the Cross, Aquinas, Augustine, the Bible.

Antonio said...

Furthermore, I find your citation of Canon 833 a bit ridiculous. So then USF theology department would have to get rid of courses on Judaism, Hinduism, Buddhism, and Islam. The philosophy department would have to get rid of courses on existentialism, anything that contains Niche, and Plato, Socrates, and Plato if not taught under a Catholic scope, which they are, but do not need to be. Pope Innocent III proclaimed that the way to a Christian life was through the pursuit and attainment of knowledge. We are not to fear knowledge and the possibility that it may tarnish our souls and relationship with God. To enact this Canon would be to undermine a Papal decree, and in turn, the Pope's infallibility.

Antonio said...

What is "non-negotiable"? Was not much of what was changed and altered in Vatican II at one point "non-negotiable". Saying mass in Latin was linked to the salvation of souls, for it was the belief that it was the only language which God understood and subsequently, answered our prayers to. In the case of monks, to not say prayer properly was unethical and sinful, for souls were at risk. But this non-negotiable philosophy, theology, and practice became negotiable and changed. Moreover, the practice was practically eradicated. At one point, the involvement of women in the Church was non-negotiable, but now women are altar servers and Eucharistic ministers. The Church must find a balance between Tradition and its relevance to man's current condition and existence. The Church is all about baby-steps, something which I understand, which is done in order to conserve the Tradition, integrity, and orthodoxy of the Church as much as possible. But when our knowledge on a subject comes to light and reveals itself, which cause a reinterpretation of the Sacred Scriptures, we must acknowledge it, accept it, and change accordingly to it, as was in the case of Copernicus and Galileo, whose views were not reconciled until Descartes, in which he reconciled faith, religion, God, and science.

Gibbons in SF said...


Re: Your post of 4:42AM:

You cannot have read Canon 833. Nowhere does it specify any subject to be taught. It pertains not to the suject taught, but to teachers in Catholic Universities and seminaries. It begins:

"The following are obliged personally to make a profession of faith according to the formula approved by the Apostolic See:...

You can read the Canon here:

At 5:18 AM, you ask: What is "non-negotiable"? Here are some examples: The teaching that murder is wrong is non-negotiable. The teaching that marriage is between a man and a woman is non-negotiable. The teaching that there actually is such a thing as right and wrong is non-negotiable.

Antonio said...

Thank you for the link. I appreciate it. Well in the issue of Canon 833, a person who teaches is to never impose his or her personal views on his pupils. They agree to teach the curriculum that was organized with approval of the department and the dean, who see to it that the curriculum reflects the teachings of the Catholic Church. So, whether or not, Prof. Pizzuto took a personal oath to the Pope or the Roman Cahtolic Church is irrelevant. I know that the Rabbi who teaches one of the Judaism courses sure didn't make any oath to the Pope, or to the Church in general. They took an oath to teach the curriculum as set in accordance with the Apostolic See. I have found no difference in the doctrine taught to me at USF than with what I have been taught in my 17 years of Catholic education at parochial schools. So I find Canon 833 and whether Prof. Pizzuto should be allowed to teach at a Catholic University irrelevant.

Antonio said...

To address what is negotiable and non-negotiable. Yes, murder is wrong, until applied to the context of a teleological suspension of the ethical, in which Kierkegaard uses the example of Abraham and Isaac. The only conclusion to that question is that we have a Duty to the eternal and absolute God. So i guess, yes in some cases, murder is negotiable. I mean, pro-life, pro-traditional marriage advocate George W. Bush used this teleological suspension to pick a fight with the Iraqis. Remember, God told him to engage in such a battle. What was right for him was wrong for us. In terms of marriage I think that is negotiable as well. Marriage is a formalization of a both finite and infinite, intimate, and loving relationship under the eyes of God and under acknowledgment of the community, which should teach and practice the teachings of Jesus Christ.
Sexual orientation, meaning, those who do not see it as a fad, and there are individuals even in the "homosexual" community who see it as something as a la the mode, which is seen as incorrect, wrong, and offensive to the mainstream LBGTQ community, is something given to us. It is not a matter of choice, but rather something one is born with. To say that it is unnatural, maybe, but we see it in nature as well. I agree in the sense that it derives from the norm if we see the issue through the lens in which the sole intention humanity is the propagation of life in a bodily manner. If this is the sole purpose of humanity, then it can be said that it is unnatural for priests to be celibate, for they are not fulfilling their Duty as humans. But to defend your case, we can use the teleological suspension. What I say may offend people from the LBGTQ community in making such a comparison, and as well as the other groups I mention, but what if this switch in sexual orientation is caused by a hormonal or chemical deviation during gestation? This would put them in the same arena as people affected by dwarfism, mongoloidism, mental retardation, down syndrome, etc. Many of these individual, along with those of the LBGTQ community feel they were made as God intended them to be, and we as the Church have accepted that, with the exception of the LBGTQ community; God makes no accidents. The Church allows for these individuals, mongoloids, people with down syndrome to get married. Why not for LBGTQ people? They are suffering from the same societal shame and misunderstandings as these other individuals suffered before a scientific reason was able to be identified as the root of the cause for such a deviation. What I must say is that I do not agree with promiscuity in either the Straight or LBGTQ community. Why not shape their relationships under the same values and expectations that we hold for all other human beings who want to enter a romantic and marital relationship? Through this discussion, how is this a non-negotiable subject.
I am no ethical relativist, but when information and a different and viable scope or lens is presented, we must re-examine those ethics and morals of what really constitute right and wrong. Our Church is not one of sola escritura, which is in the case of the Protestant faith and which ultimately and fundamentally cannot be subject to interpretation. We as the Church do not believe this. The Church acknowledge that all has been revealed, but it is the Church's job to adapt and interpret that message accordingly to the current, present history of man. She must instruct us on how those revelations are to be revealed in the present.