May 17, 2012 (LifeSiteNews.com) – Professors at four Jesuit-run Catholic universities have recently stepped into the media to voice their disagreement with Catholic bishops on church teachings, including on contraception and the nature of marriage, and condemning the prelates for promoting an “idiosyncratic minority view” as Catholic dogma.
The professors’ statements come at the same time that Pope Benedict has emphasized to U.S. bishops that reform of Catholic universities in the United States is the “most urgent challenge” facing the Church in the country.
The pope told U.S. bishops who were visiting Rome recently that a lack of progress towards reform has created confusion by “instances of apparent dissidence” between academics and the bishops. “Such discord harms the Church’s witness and, as experience has shown, can easily be exploited to compromise her authority and her freedom,” he said.
The issue of religious freedom is at the top of the American bishops’ agenda at the moment, in the midst of their fight against the Obama administration’s attempt to mandate coverage of artificial birth control, including abortifacients, by Catholic institutions.
In a column for the Huffington Post last week, Fordham University sociology professor Jeanne Flavin excoriated the Catholic hierarchy for showing “a staggering disregard for young women’s everyday lived reality” by fighting the federal mandate.
Flavin pointed out the difficulties parenting students face on campus, and said that not paying for contraception “contributes to a climate of shame and stigma surrounding sexuality that – as we learned from victims of the widespread priest sex abuse scandal – can be incredibly harmful.”
“The principle of cura personalis (or ‘care for the whole person’), central to the mission of Catholic schools, does not come with a qualifier that says ‘unless you are sexually active’ or ‘except if you are a woman,’” wrote the Fordham professor, who also criticized the Vatican’s recent censure of liberalized women religious groups in the Church, and dismissed the bishops’ pro-life position as “purported concern for the unborn.”
“This disrespect for the women who are here – in our midst, on our campuses—being shown by a powerful minority of conservative Catholics in favor of purported concern for the unborn must be called out for what it is: profoundly unchristian.”
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Matthew Archbold at the Cardinal Newman Society noted that Flavin is an extreme abortion supporter who has praised the work of Kansas late-term abortionist George Tiller.
Meanwhile, a Daily Beast article on Friday entitled “Do Most Catholic Theologians Support Same-Sex Marriage?” focused on three Catholic professors – from Marquette University, Fairfield University, and Santa Clara University – who downplayed recent remarks by Cardinal Timothy Dolan of New York expressing disappointment in President Obama’s support for same-sex “marriage.”
Supporting traditional marriage, they argue, is only one opinion among many found in Catholic ranks, and therefore shouldn’t be taken as a firm teaching – and could even be considered “schismatic” for allegedly disagreeing with the majority of Catholics.
“[Cardinal Timothy] Dolan and the United States Catholic Conference are misrepresenting ‘Catholic teaching,’ and are trying to present their idiosyncratic minority view as the ‘Catholic position,’ and it is not,” said said Daniel Maguire, a Marquette University professor and former priest who supports legalized abortion, according to Catholic World News.
“The bishops will stand with Dolan and the US Catholic Conference, but on this issue, they are in moral schism since most in the Church have moved on [to] a more humane view on the rights of those whom God has made gay.”
Paul Lakeland, a professor of religion and director of the Center for Catholic Studies at Fairfield University characterized the bishops’ traditional marriage doctrine as “an argument that’s based more on fear or repugnance.” “There is a lot more to be said about these issues than one stream of words from the hierarchy,” he said.
Santa Clara theology professor Frederick Parrella agreed that there is “nothing in the Gospels” to support keeping the definition of marriage as between a man and a woman, and said there were good arguments that the Catholic Church should bless homosexual unions.
Joseph M. McShane, S.J., president
Scott R. Pilarz, S.J., president
Office of the president https://www.marquette.edu/president/team.php
Jeffrey P. von Arx, S.J., president
Diane Mastrone, Administrative Assistant: (203) 254-4000, ext. 2217
Office of the president https://www.fairfield.edu/about/about_pres_office.html
Santa Clara University
Michael E. Engh, S.J., president