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Justin Petrisek

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Catholic view of abortion and morality off limits at many Catholic universities

Justin Petrisek

January 28, 2015 (CardinalNewmanSociety.org) -- The freedom to discuss topics such as abortion and sexual morality has been all but lost at many Catholic and Jesuit institutions of higher education, argues Father Robert Araujo, S.J. in a recent article at Mirror of Justice.

Fr. Araujo questioned in his piece whether “the necessity to think critically about everything discussed within the walls of the academy” is actually happening on college campuses. “I, for one, think that it does not,” he wrote.

“First of all, universities today—including those claiming to be Catholic and/or Jesuit—sustain a climate in which certain issues (for example: abortion; sexual and gender identity; sexual morality) which need to be discussed and debated are off limits,” he wrote in his piece.

Painting a bleak picture of the intellectual climate at many Catholic colleges, he continued:

To borrow from one prominent American politician, certain matters are “sacred ground” and cannot be questioned. They can only be championed in spite of their dubious nature… [and] what can be questioned in the cultural milieu today without restraint are the teachings of the Church. This questioning is promoted in such a way that hinders exposition, objective discussion, or a faithful presentation of what the Church teaches and why she teaches what she teaches.

Fr. Araujo wrote that, in his opinion, Jesuit universities are often no longer willing to confront, but would rather prefer to avoid, the difficult topics. “My contention is based on the fact that I have taught or lectured at half of the Jesuit universities which sponsor law schools,” he noted. Indeed, Fr. Araujo has taught at Gonzaga University, the Pontifical Gregorian University, Georgetown Law Center, St. Louis University School of Law, Boston College School of Law, Fordham University Law School, and is currently at Loyola University Chicago School of Law.

“If one were to try and engage others in an informed and objective presentation and discussion of these ‘difficult topics’ on a Jesuit campus, he or she would likely be marginalized in a variety of ways,” he continued. “Someone close to me once tried in a respectful way to invite discussion and deliberation about the suitability of a drag show and a coming-out ball on a Jesuit campus; he was pointedly reminded that such matters were, in fact, off limits.”

In the present culture, however, “the ‘right’ to abortion, the legitimacy of same-sex marriage, and the ‘right’ of all to define for themselves (and everyone else) the nature ‘of existence, of meaning, of the universe, and of the mystery of human life’ can never be questioned, critically or otherwise,” Fr. Araujo observed in his article. “These subjects are off the table. If you choose to raise them, you do so at your own peril.”

“But if we also claim to follow Christ, must we not be afraid about doing this? Christ acknowledged that he is the way, the truth, and life; yet, many well-intentioned folks, including a good number of members of Catholic and Jesuit university communities, deny His claim,” Fr. Araujo wrote. “Taking stock of legitimate academic freedom, this is an odd response especially for those engaged in a work that uses the name of the Society of Jesus. I base this contention on what the Society of Jesus is or what it is supposed to be.”

Read Fr. Araujo’s entire article here.

Reprinted with permission from The Cardinal Newman Society.

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