"It profits me but little that a vigilant authority always protects the tranquillity of my pleasures and constantly averts all dangers from my path, without my care or concern, if this same authority is the absolute master of my liberty and my life."

--Alexis de Tocqueville, Democracy in America

Friday, April 5, 2013

They Call it the Newman Center for a Reason

John Henry Cardinal Newman -- emphasis on the Cardinal -- was a Catholic leader of the 19th century who authored, among other works, The Idea of the University.   He was the inspiration for the creation of hundreds of Newman Centers around the world, which provide Catholic campus ministries for Catholic students at secular universities.

Well, one of those universities is George Washington University in Washington, DC, and its Catholic priest is under fire from one of his ex-alter servers for having the audacity to have offered the student guidance about his homosexuality derived from standard Catholic doctrine as defined by the catechism, namely, that he should remain celibate rather than succumb to temptations.   The student essentially objects to a Catholic priest being Catholic and preaching Catholicism, as Paul Rahe reports:

The priest in question, who has served as the GW Catholic chaplain for the last five years, is purportedly guilty of the unforgivable crime of upholding the teaching of the Roman Catholic Church. That, at least, is the charge being lodged by Damian Legacy and Blake Bergen. They "say they have left the Newman Center in the last several years because Father Greg Shaffer’s strong anti-gay and anti-abortion views are too polarizing," and they "plan to file a formal complaint with the University and hold prayer vigils outside the Newman Center until Shaffer is removed."...
According to Legacy, who was apparently at one time a regular mass-goer at the chaplaincy, what Father Shaffer does, in fact, is to advise "students who are attracted to members of the same sex to remain celibate for the rest of their lives." Shaffer also reportedly counsels students against abortion, and I would be willing to bet that he advises those who are heterosexually inclined to refrain from sex until they are married.
It will be exceedingly interesting to see what happens at GW....  If things keep drifting in the direction in which they are rapidly drifting now, Catholics and other Christians and Jews who adhere to the traditional Judeo-Christian moral teaching are going to be marginalized, then persecuted. I foresee a day when the tax-exempt status of the Roman Catholic Church will be yanked because it resolutely refuses to ordain women, because it condemns abortion as murder, and because it refuses to condone sex outside a marriage open to procreation. I foresee a day when priests will be fined or imprisoned for articulating in sermons and counseling sessions the teaching of the Church. I foresee a day when similar punishment will be visited on Protestants and Jews who assert the traditional teaching of their faiths.
The "idea" of a university today is much different than it was in Newman's time.   Today, too often, the purpose of a university is to indoctrinate young people in the liberal creed, and to "deprogram" them from their traditional beliefs.   But I hope Rahe is wrong, and I believe in any event is overstating the danger, at least for now.   Common sense suggests that these are relatively silly young persons, not for being gay, but just silly in the way young people often are, imagining in their youthful narcissism that any impediment to their self-approbation is wrong and must be silenced.  

Hopefully the university authorities will understand it as such and tell the young men in no uncertain terms (a) they call if the Newman Center for a reason, because it's Catholic; (b) you knew or should have known that a Catholic center would support Catholic doctrine; (c) if you don't like it, don't go; and (d) grow up.

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