Posts Tagged “Catholicism”
A panel discussion, held on Oct. 1, was the first event sponsored by the New Initiative on Catholic Social Thought and Public Life. Inspired by the election of Pope Francis I, the Initiative, as part of the Office of the President, is designed to educate this generation of Catholic leaders and promote the idea of Catholic social teaching in the modern world.
“The pursuit of justice, equality, and peace has a deep resonance within our community, here at Georgetown,” President John DeGioia said. “Our founder, John Carroll created for us the vision of an institution that would be both distinctly Catholic and distinctly American … A commitment to the common good, which lies at the heart of Catholic social teaching, entails a commitment … to bringing Catholic faith and modern life, especially the experience of freedom and diversity, into fruitful contact.”
Cardinal Donald Wuerl, Archbishop of Washington, said, “Pope Francis is offering a new notion of grace … His program is not a political one… but it is faith in action, the gospel at work.” He noted that Pope Francis offers passion for the poor and the vulnerable.
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The White House announced earlier today that Georgetown’s very own President Jack DeGioia will be part of the exclusive presidential delegation to attend the mass for the inauguration of the Pontificate of His Holiness Pope Francis. The Mass begins at 9:30 a.m. local time on Tuesday, on the feast of St. Joseph.
Leading the delegation will be Vice President Joe Biden, whose relationship with Catholic Church hierarchy remains strained after, you know, being pro-choice and all. Some bishops have gone so far as to say that Biden shouldn’t receive Catholic communion. Also, the contraception mandate kind of riled up that whole group of people.
Among the other Catholics in the delegation is former Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi, herself quite pro-choice as well. When she met with Pope Benedict in 2009, he reportedly took the time to lecture her on her duty as a Catholic to use her political clout to limit the use of abortion. “His Holiness took the opportunity to speak of the requirements of the natural moral law and the Church’s consistent teaching on the dignity of human life from conception to natural death which enjoin all Catholics, and especially legislators,” the Vatican wrote. For her part, Pelosi shrugged it off and emphasized their discussion about poverty and climate change.
The inclusion of Republican New Mexico Gov. Susana Martinez makes the delegation bipartisan. Unlike the rest of the delegates, the pro-life Martinez’s reputation remains untarnished in the Church. Sitting Republican Speaker of the House John Boehner declined the White House’s invitation, citing the need to focus on his work in D.C. and (probably) to avoid another opportunity for public crying.
The mild-mannered DeGioia has been somewhat of a controversial figure among Catholics and conservatives especially. An entire blog is dedicated to cataloging all of Georgetown’s purported aberrations from good Catholic teaching, which isn’t even to mention the famous alum who wants to get Georgetown’s status as a Catholic university revoked. The Cardinal Newman Society has taken out GeorgetownScandal.com at various points in time to organize petitions against University actions, such as its decision to invite the pro-choice graduation speaker Kathleen Sebelius.
While it’s fitting that the president of the first Jesuit university in the United States will attend the inaugural mass of the first Jesuit Pontiff, with such a controversial group of people, there’s bound to be some awkward conversations. It doesn’t help things since the last time Pope came to D.C. in 2008, Benedict snubbed Georgetown for a visit, instead, to Catholic University.
Photo: Hilary Nakasone/Georgetown Voice
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The Toqueville forum on Democracy in America hosted its first event of the fall on yesterday afternoon. It featured Ross Douthat, author of “Bad Religion – How we became a nation of heretics” and New York Times columnist along with Father Matthew Carnes, SJ, an assistant professor of Government at Georgetown.
Douthat emphasizes in his book that America is facing a moral crisis due to decline in institutional Christianity, and Carnes thinks that this “calls for a living that is more moralistic and holistic.” The Catholic thinkers discussed ways to a “new orthodoxy” and “new evangelism” that can guide American behavior in all aspects of life, from the personal to the political.
Douthat mentioned debates that began after the 2004 presidential election as bringing this issue to the forefront of his thought. “There was a wave of panic after George W. Bush was reelected and all of these liberal journalists started noticing these polls that said that ‘values voters’ had helped put him over the top, and this prompted a series of anguished op-eds and articles about the looming specter of theocracy in America and the threat caused by new evangelists.”
He continued: “This culminated in the new atheist movement with people like Richard Dawkins, the late Christopher Hitchens and so on. It was this period where all of the debates about American religion were about this either or – it was either religious conservatism or secular liberalism. It was God himself versus Atheism.”
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Despite being a Jesuit institution, Georgetown has long been angering conservative Catholic groups for the way we let our students engage in repulsive, amoral activity. And this week, we get an even further downgrade on the scale of Good Christiandom, as one of our fellow D.C. universities introduces a new law to prevent immorality among its students.
On Monday, June 13, the Wall Street Journal ran an op-ed piece written by John Garvey, president of our neighboring Catholic University, entitled “Why We’re Going Back to Single-Sex Dorms.” The subhead, which sounds vaguely like the title of a satirical Onion article, reads that “student housing has become a hotbed of drinking and hooking up.”
Hotbed? Is that supposed to be a double entendre?
And if you make it past the comical subheadline, the rest of the article isn’t much better. Garvey outright blames the use of coed dorms for the rampant binge drinking and sexual indiscretion that occur at universities across the country. Wielding various uncited, carefully chosen statistics about the percentage of students who live in coed dorms and participate in such debauchery versus those who live in single-sex residences, Garvey concludes that all students would be safer, healthier, and act like good moral Christians if they didn’t have the opposite sex corrupting them in their residence halls.
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H*yas for Choice and United Feminists’ announcement that they were undertaking a joint campaign to pressure Georgetown into changing its reproductive rights policies has upset or confounded a number of students.
Now, members of several Catholic groups on campus have responded with a letter to President John DeGioia in support of the University’s current policies, in which they aim to refute the arguments made by HFC and UF that a Jesuit University can and should provide contraceptives, comprehensive sexual education in its medical facilities, and allow for greater dialogue about related topics.
“The students who are currently advocating this ‘Plan A’ campaign fail to understand our identity; they use terms such as ‘Catholic,’ ‘Jesuit,’ and ‘cura personalis’ without a basic understanding of their significance. Although perhaps not grounded in a willful ignorance, their argument nonetheless demonstrates a thorough and pervasive hostility for Georgetown as a Catholic institution rooted in the rich tradition of the Society of Jesus,” the letter states.
Here’s the full letter, which was sent to Vox by Georgetown Academy Editor David Gregory (COL ’10):
Dear President DeGioia,
It has come to our attention that United Feminists and H*yas for Choice have recently submitted an open letter to your office and the University community at large. We are writing in response in order to point out the errors within their campaign and thought process. We do this not to over-dramatize this issue – which has resurfaced on a regular basis over the past two decades – or to belittle the University’s competency with regards to handling this campaign. We simply write to support our beloved University’s ideals and identity, which inhere within every facet of Georgetown’s operations and campus life.
The students who are currently advocating this “Plan A” campaign fail to understand our identity; they use terms such as “Catholic,” “Jesuit,” and “cura personalis” without a basic understanding of their significance. Although perhaps not grounded in a willful ignorance, their argument nonetheless demonstrates a thorough and pervasive hostility for Georgetown as a Catholic institution rooted in the rich tradition of the Society of Jesus. They advocate for “dialogue,” yet fail to engage in true dialogue given their ignorance of Catholic Social Teaching; there can be no dialogue without preliminary understanding, only empty accusations.
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In a new study that has conservative Catholic groups very alarmed, Georgetown researchers are reporting that Catholic students who attend Catholic Universities are not much more likely to support Catholic teaching than their counterparts at non-Catholic colleges and universities.
The Bulletin—”Philadelphia’s Family Newspaper”—writes:
“The [Georgetown University Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate] study largely confirms a 2003 study released by The Cardinal Newman Society, which found significant declines in students’ support for Catholic moral teaching on abortion, marriage and sexuality after four years at a Catholic college or university. The declines were generally greater at non-Catholic private and public institutions.
“According to the CARA report, 16 percent of students at Catholic colleges and universities become more pro-life and more convinced of traditional marriage, whereas 31 percent become more supportive of legal abortion and 39 percent embrace same-sex ‘marriage.’ Only 7 percent increase attendance at religious services, while 32 percent reduce attendance. Eight percent of Catholic students leave the Catholic faith while attending a Catholic institution.”
CARA researchers also found that attending Catholic college has no statistically significant effect on students’ support for abortion, the death penalty and same-sex marriage. “Students report some improvement in attending religious services (not necessarily Catholic), reading about religion and spirituality (not necessarily Catholic) and deeming it ‘important to improve the human condition’—a concern that is presumably shared outside the Catholic faith,” The Bulletin writes.
“Catholics should be alarmed by the significant declines in Catholic practice and fidelity at many of America’s Catholic institutions,” Patrick Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society shown above with the Pope, said when the finding were presented at the annual conference of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.
“Everyone expects a Catholic college to be markedly different from a secular one. Students should be inspired to embrace and deepen their Catholic faith, not negotiate around Catholic moral teaching.”
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There are a lot of reasons why students get pumped to go to school in the District—the career opportunities, the inflated sense of self-importance that comes with attending school in the nation’s capital—but Kieran Raval (COL ’13) was excited that D.C., unlike his hometown, had a Catholic church which offered Latin Mass.
“Personally I’m pretty attached to the traditional Latin Mass. I prefer it. So when I came to Georgetown I was excited about this church, in Chinatown,” Raval said. “But then I talked to some freshman who liked the Latin Mass, too—and I was surprised to find that, especially among freshman.”
Raval saw the opportunity to attend traditional Catholic Mass, which the Second Vatican Council virtually eliminated when it authorized Masses celebrated in the vernacular in the 1960s, without having to get on the Red Line. Now, Georgetown will be host to the first traditional Mass in a while. On Thursday, February 11, at 8 p.m., students will gather in the Copley Crypt to hear Father Murphy give every part of the Mass except for the homily in Latin.
A traditional, or Tridentine Mass will probably be held at the same time and place every other week from then on, Raval said.
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CC to GU: You sure you’re Jesuit?
CatholicCulture.Org reported last week that the former president and CEO of two Planned Parenthood branches now works as a low-level Georgetown administrator at the nursing school. (Well, kind of. They mistakenly reported that she taught at the NHS.)
But in its bizarre ‘gotcha’ series on Jesuit institutions that have connections to Planned Parenthood, Catholic Culture is not finished with Georgetown yet. Its writers have found two more Georgetown faculty with Planned Parenthood ties, these two having served as legal counsel for PP. From the site:
Professor Peter J. Rubin, according to his web page, “served as counsel in the U.S. Supreme Court for, among others, Dr. Timothy Quill and two other doctors in Vacco v. Quill, a challenge to the constitutionality of New York’s ban on physician assisted suicide, and Planned Parenthood in Rust v. Sullivan, the Supreme Court challenge to the abortion ‘gag rule’ imposed in the 1980s upon family planning clinics that received federal funding.”
Professor Julie E. Cohen, who has taught at Georgetown since 1999, was a “member of pro bono team that represented Bay Area Planned Parenthood affiliates in abortion clinic access litigation” from 1992 to 1995, according to her curriculum vitate.
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CatholicCulture.org, a Catholic news and commentary site, is in the midst of a series on Catholic schools that point their students toward careers with Planned Parenthood. And in their digging, they turned up something about an adjunct instructor at Georgetown’s School of Nursing and Health Studies that they found interesting—before she worked at Georgetown, Roberta Geidner-Antoniotti worked for Planned Parenthood.
According to her curriculum vitae (download it here), Geidner-Antoniotti was President and CEO of the Mahoning Valley Planned Parenthood from 1990 to 1997, where she increased increased donor loyalty and giving and patient numbers. She held the same job from 1998 to 2000 with Planned Parenthood’s Maryland branch and was an acting project manager with Planned Parenthood Federation of America in the interim.
More recently, she was the CFO of the Whitman-Walker Clinic and has won a host of public awards. At Georgetown, Geidner-Antoniotti is involved with strategic planning and execution.
Geidner-Antoniotti is not trained as a medical doctor (she has a master degree in applied sociology) and does not hold a seem to hold a teaching position at Georgetown, but that didn’t seem to matter to Dr. Jeff Mirus, CatholicCulture.org’s president, who wrote an excoriating editorial to accompany the news piece.
“Any association of this type on the part of a Catholic university is, of course, reprehensible, but it adds insult to injury that the woman in question, Roberta Lynn Geidner-Antoniotti, teaches in the nursing program,” he wrote. “Apparently Georgetown is in the forefront of the contemporary redefinition of health care to include murder.”
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At its latest meeting, the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops decided to form a task force to look into what actions the group could take to increase its oversight of Catholic colleges and universities, according to the Associated Press.
Although the details are a bit fuzzy because the meeting was held behind closed doors, Chicago Cardinal Francis George told the AP that the task force will be researching what church law says about the bishops’ authority over schools. George said that the task force is part of a broader investigation of which groups can legitimately call themselves Catholic.
The Conference of Bishops isn’t the only group taking a look at the issue. The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, a group Georgetown is a member of, will also be looking at the question of bishops’ authority at its January meeting.
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