Sunday, May 10, 2009

USF Update "It would be simplistic..."

The abandonment by the (Jesuit) University of San Francisco of its Catholic heritage has forced even the mainstream media to take notice.

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


Anonymous said...

Why is this so important to you? Can't you just let it go? You persist in trying dig up every bit of dirt you can. Would Jesus act this way? I think not. How about saying something nice, especially on this lovely Mother's Day.

Gibbons in SF said...


Apparently, the San Francisco Chronicle (circulation 350,000+)considered USF's abandonment of its Catholic identity important enough for a story.

Susanna said...

Gee whizz! How WOULD Jesus act?

Can any of us really imagine that Jesus Christ, the Good Shepherd would have approved of sitting around a campfire singing Kumbaya while "Brave New Church" wolves of Privett's ilk were allowed to run amok amidst Christ's sheep???

Or is it more likely that Jesus would have cast this brood of vipers out of SFU in the same way he cast the moneychangers out of His Father's Temple....with a whip???

12After this he went down to Capharnaum, he and his mother, and his brethren, and his disciples: and they remained there not many days.

13And the pasch of the Jews was at hand, and Jesus went up to Jerusalem.

14And he found in the temple them that sold oxen and sheep and doves, and the changers of money sitting.

15And when he had made, as it were, a scourge of little cords, he drove them all out of the temple, the sheep also and the oxen, and the money of the changers he poured out, and the tables he overthrew.

16And to them that sold doves he said: Take these things hence, and make not the house of my Father a house of traffic.

17And his disciples remembered, that it was written: The zeal of thy house hath eaten me up.
John 2:12-17

Oh, and by the way, when it comes to the Catholic faith, where there is a choice between saying something "nice" and saying something "true," then I guess "true" will have to trump "nice."

Anonymous said...

As an SII alumna from back in the day, I share your pain. PRR