It’s commencement season in U.S. Catholic higher education, that time of year when administrators of the so-called “independent” Catholic universities and colleges can take advantage of the annual opportunity to “thumb their noses” at the Church and Her teaching.
The truth be told, those administrators don’t actually thumb their noses. Instead, they invite speakers with pedigrees aligning them with the “progressive forces of worldliness,” to quote Pope Francis. The speakers then do the thumbing for the administrators, as they sit on the dais and applaud.
Consider this year’s commencement speaker at Villanova University, Dr. Jill Biden.
The wife of Vice President Joe Biden, Dr. Biden is being honored for her work as an educator, supporter of military families and veterans, and breast cancer prevention. So far, so good! Dr. Biden also earned an M.A. in English at Villanova. Even better yet!
However, the University’s announcement of Dr. Biden’s invitation didn’t mention her support for abortion, for the proliferation and use of artificial forms of birth control (some of which are abortafacients), and for so-called “homosexual marriage.” Check it all out at LifesiteNews.com.
Administrators at Villanova likely would reply to critics that Dr. Biden’s invitation evidences their unwavering, personal commitment to “the tradition of Catholic higher education [that] has always placed a priority on the integration of the pursuit of intellectual excellence and ethical conversions essential for the integration of knowledge and faith.” Furthermore, those administrators likely would assert that this invitation demonstrates their commitment to “the sacredness of individual conscience [that] must find a secure place in the discourse with a Catholic, Augustinian university.”
In her speech, even if Dr. Biden wasn’t to mention any of her personal beliefs that are contrary to Church teaching, it will be eminently clear to everyone in the audience what those beliefs are. After all, that’s why administrators of the independent Catholic universities and colleges exercise such great care and oversight when inviting commencement speakers. In this case, Dr. Jill Biden will clarify for graduates the administrators’ loyalty to those cherished Catholic and Augustinian values as well as what those values should mean for graduates in the existential practice of their lives as they commence forth into the world beyond Villanova.
Yes, indeed. “Ethical conversions” and “the sacredness of individual conscience”—cherished institutional values.
Especially at a Catholic university, should it not be asked: “Ethical conversions to what ?” and “Individual conscience guided by what ?” And, especially at an Augustinian university, should it not also be asked: “Supported by what truth ?”
During a daily homily as Pope Francis was describing the Maccabean persectuion, he noted how when the people of God live in a foreign and alien culture, they oftentimes prefer to distance themselves from the Lord in favor of worldly proposals. These proposals, he said, are the root of evil. This preference then leads the people of God to abandon their sacred traditions as they negotiate their loyalty to God. This is “apostasy—a form of “adultery” the Pope said—that transpires as the people of God negotiate the essence of their being: loyalty to the Lord. This attitude of adolescent progressivism, he said, is the attitude “is a fruit of the devil who makes his way forward with the spirit of secular worldliness.”
Just two weeks ago, the University’s pro-life group, Villanovans for Life, celebrated its 40th anniversary. This student organization has evidenced a legacy of unwavering loyalty to Catholic and Augustinian values rooted in Church teaching. In contrast, the invitation to Dr. Jill Biden evidences the spirit of adolescent progressivism, as the University—like so many other independent Catholic institutions—seeks to be part of the secular world and promotes its spirit.
To read the LifesiteNews.com article, click on the following link:
To read the text of Pope Francis’ comments about adolescent progressivism, click on the following link:
The Motley Monk’s daily blog, Omnibus, click on the following link: