Forget “Occupy Wall Street”: It’s now “Occupy Anna Maria College”…

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Those who follow The Motley Monk might recall an April post in The American Catholic—“What’s A Bishop To Do?

In that post, The Motley Monk discussed how academic administrators at Anna Maria College (AMC)—a small Catholic college located in the Diocese of Worcester (MA) and having close ties to the Diocese—had withdrawn their invitation to the widow of Senator Ted Kennedy, Victoria, to  deliver the institution’s 2012 commencement speech.  The invitation was withdrawn due to the opposition of Bishop Robert J. McManus, who cited Kennedy’s moral views that conflict with Roman Catholic teaching.



For those who thought the story would end there, they thought wrong.

Ensuing controversy over the withdrawal of the invitation to Kennedy is now threatening to mar the event.  Rumors persist that protesters might demonstrate.

Think of the threat as “Occupy Anna Maria.”

Apparently, the threat has AMC’s President, Jack Calareso, and the Chairwoman of the AMC’s Board of Trustees, Sister Yvette Bellerose, so concerned that, according to The  Boston Globe, they recently met at the diocesan offices and politely disinvited Bishop McManus, claiming “the bishop would be a distraction to the event.”

A spokesman for Bishop McManus said: “He was going to  attend, but that’s not going to happen now.”

AMC’s academic administrators subsequently issued a statement indicating that the relationship between AMC and the Diocese of Worcester “remains strong.” In addition, they promise “the two organizations will continue to work together with respect and collegiality to advance the goals and values of quality Catholic education.”


In the world of the politics of Catholic higher education, The Motley Monk would observe, those words are the refrain for the hit tune “Tit for Tat.”



To read The Motley Monk’s post in The American Catholic, click on the following link:

To read the Boston Globe article, click on the following link:

To read The Motley Monk’s daily blog, click on the following link:

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  1. When Obama visited Notre Dame, Catholics protested, were arrested and prosecuted by Notre Dame, 85, I believe. They were found innocent by reason of Notre Dame being public property and they, being public citizens. Are these people so fearful of conflict, of having to stand up for the truth, that they would sell out the truth? I am sure Bishop McManus would have helped pay their legal fees. The spirit to fight for the truth is not in their constitution. They are already slaves.

  2. It’s perhaps time then to “disinvite” them from being able to call themselves officially CATHOLIC. What’s the problem? Just do it.

  3. One recalls the Land O’ Lakes Statement of 1967
    “The Catholic University today must be a university in the full modern sense of the word, with a strong commitment to and concern for academic excellence. To perform its teaching and research functions effectively the Catholic university must have a true autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical, external to the academic community itself. To say this is simply to assert that institutional autonomy and academic freedom are essential conditions of life and growth and indeed of survival for Catholic universities as for all universities.

    The Catholic university participates in the total university life of our time, has the same functions as all other true universities and, in general, offers the same services to society. The Catholic university adds to the basic idea of a modern university distinctive characteristics which round out and fulfill that idea. Distinctively, then, the Catholic university must be an institution, a community of learners or a community of scholars, in which Catholicism is perceptibly present and effectively operative.”

  4. The Land O’Lakes statement is based upon an extreme understanding of academic freedom. To read about this matter, click on the following link and download the article:

    None other than Pope Benedict XVI has issued a corrective to this extreme understanding:

    […]On the level of higher education, many of you have pointed to a growing recognition on the part of Catholic colleges and universities of the need to reaffirm their distinctive identity in fidelity to their founding ideals and the Church’s mission in service of the Gospel. Yet much remains to be done, especially in such basic areas as compliance with the mandate laid down in Canon 812 for those who teach theological disciplines. The importance of this canonical norm as a tangible expression of ecclesial communion and solidarity in the Church’s educational apostolate becomes all the more evident when we consider the confusion created by instances of apparent dissidence between some representatives of Catholic institutions and the Church’s pastoral leadership: such discord harms the Church’s witness and, as experience has shown, can easily be exploited to compromise her authority and her freedom.

    It is no exaggeration to say that providing young people with a sound education in the faith represents the most urgent internal challenge facing the Catholic community in your country. The deposit of faith is a priceless treasure which each generation must pass on to the next by winning hearts to Jesus Christ and shaping minds in the knowledge, understanding and love of his Church. It is gratifying to realize that, in our day too, the Christian vision, presented in its breadth and integrity, proves immensely appealing to the imagination, idealism and aspirations of the young, who have a right to encounter the faith in all its beauty, its intellectual richness and its radical demands.

    Here I would simply propose several points which I trust will prove helpful for your discernment in meeting this challenge.

    First, as we know, the essential task of authentic education at every level is not simply that of passing on knowledge, essential as this is, but also of shaping hearts. There is a constant need to balance intellectual rigor in communicating effectively, attractively and integrally, the richness of the Church’s faith with forming the young in the love of God, the praxis of the Christian moral and sacramental life and, not least, the cultivation of personal and liturgical prayer.

    It follows that the question of Catholic identity, not least at the university level, entails much more than the teaching of religion or the mere presence of a chaplaincy on campus. All too often, it seems, Catholic schools and colleges have failed to challenge students to reappropriate their faith as part of the exciting intellectual discoveries which mark the experience of higher education. The fact that so many new students find themselves dissociated from the family, school and community support systems that previously facilitated the transmission of the faith should continually spur Catholic institutions of learning to create new and effective networks of support. In every aspect of their education, students need to be encouraged to articulate a vision of the harmony of faith and reason capable of guiding a life-long pursuit of knowledge and virtue. As ever, an essential role in this process is played by teachers who inspire others by their evident love of Christ, their witness of sound devotion and their commitment to that sapientia Christiana which integrates faith and life, intellectual passion and reverence for the splendor of truth both human and divine.

    In effect, faith by its very nature demands a constant and all-embracing conversion to the fullness of truth revealed in Christ. He is the creative Logos, in whom all things were made and in whom all reality “holds together” (Col 1:17); he is the new Adam who reveals the ultimate truth about man and the world in which we live. In a period of great cultural change and societal displacement not unlike our own, Augustine pointed to this intrinsic connection between faith and the human intellectual enterprise by appealing to Plato, who held, he says, that “to love wisdom is to love God” (cf. De Civitate Dei, VIII, 8). The Christian commitment to learning, which gave birth to the medieval universities, was based upon this conviction that the one God, as the source of all truth and goodness, is likewise the source of the intellect’s passionate desire to know and the will’s yearning for fulfilment in love.

    Only in this light can we appreciate the distinctive contribution of Catholic education, which engages in a “diakonia of truth” inspired by an intellectual charity which knows that leading others to the truth is ultimately an act of love (cf. Address to Catholic Educators, Washington, 17 April 2008). Faith’s recognition of the essential unity of all knowledge provides a bulwark against the alienation and fragmentation which occurs when the use of reason is detached from the pursuit of truth and virtue; in this sense, Catholic institutions have a specific role to play in helping to overcome the crisis of universities today. Firmly grounded in this vision of the intrinsic interplay of faith, reason and the pursuit of human excellence, every Christian intellectual and all the Church’s educational institutions must be convinced, and desirous of convincing others, that no aspect of reality remains alien to, or untouched by, the mystery of the redemption and the Risen Lord’s dominion over all creation.

  5. The key to understanding how we got here is in the College’s own words:”the two organizations”… See, the College and the Diocese are equal. All this stuff about the “teaching authority of the Magisterium” is so much balderdash. The academics have zero interest in receiving moral guidance from the episcopate, and zero intent in following it.

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