Friday, April 21, 2006

Society's spring swoon

That would be the Cardinal Newman Society, which has just issued its latest rant against Catholic colleges and universities and the people upon whom they bestow honorary degrees. May favorite part of this year's statement is the reason Newman gives for why the University of Notre Dame should not be honoring Mary McAleese, the president of Ireland, as covered by Catholic World News:

" 'McAleese was a vocal dissident from the Church's infallible teaching on the male priesthood, and her statements about Vatican leaders have been strident and offensive.' The group quoted a statement McAleese made at a 1995 conference on women's ordination: 'If I truly believed that Christ was the authority for the proposition that women are to be excluded from priesthood by virtue simply of their gender, I would have to say emphatically that this is a Christ in whose divinity I do not and will not and cannot believe.' The Irish president was also a legal adviser at the founding of Campaign for Homosexual Law Reform.

" 'We are not eager to protest an honor for the leader of Ireland,' said Patrick J. Reilly, the CNS president. "The country and its President deserve respect, and we admire President McAleese's positions on abortion and other issues. But our concern is whether a Catholic university is scandalizing students and others by honoring a harsh and vocal critic of the Church who has publicly opposed infallible teaching."

Glad the Society is out there defending us from the scandal of strident women, especially because one who criticizes "infallible" teaching about the all-male priesthood. (Incidentally, the consensus among theologians is that the teaching is not infallible.)

Now I ask all five of you out there, do you want to belong to the "church" that the Society is defending. It sounds like some kind of strange mind-control organization, where someone's exercise of her right to free speech (guaranteed by canon law) about a disputed matter can make her a persona non grata forever. (After all, her statement about women's ordination was made ELEVEN YEARS AGO.)

The Society and groups like it, including the Catholic League, are in the end crisis creators, constantly denouncing in shrill tones anyone with whom they disagree, claiming victimhood (the League especially) while wildly misrepresenting Catholic tradition and teaching in the process.

Happily, the Society was soundly defeated in its attempt to prevent Notre Dame from holding performances of the Vagina Monologues and the queer film festival, much less in preventing McAleese from being honored. Let's hope that other Catholic institutions display the spine ND's president did. We Catholics don't need another ecclesial Big Brother to tell us what we can and can't think and say; we have too much of that as it is.


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