Social Work or Catechesis?
NPR reported yesterday that The Franciscan University of Steubenville is apparently confused as to the difference between catechesis and proper training in social work, and as a result, the accreditation of their program is rightly being called into question. A group of alumni discovered a course on "Deviant Behavior," which claims to examine behaviors including "murder, rape, robbery, prostitution, homosexuality, mental illness and drug use," and they rightly asked the school to change it. Class of 1991 aluma, Elizabeth Vermilyea, said:
As a lesbian and as a psychological professional, I found a couple of things offensive... The state of the art in science on homosexuality is not that it's deviant. The DSM Diagnostic and Statistical Manual of Mental Disorders has removed it ... as an illness.
Stephen Holloway, director of the office of accreditation at the Council on Social Work Education, is also concerned:
The fact that homosexuality was identified in the course description as a deviant behavior raises a flag... Understanding diversity and difference and their dynamics in society is critical for social workers to be effective in working with diverse populations.
In a statement, the University cited their Catholic mission as apparently more fundamental than their educational one and the teaching of the Catechism as a suitable alternative to the most up-to-date science:
Franciscan University bases its educational mission on the teaching of Christ as proclaimed in Sacred Scripture and Tradition and authoritatively interpreted by the Magisterium of the Catholic Church. Accordingly, Franciscan University follows Catholic Church teaching in regard to homosexuality and treats homosexual persons with respect, compassion, and sensitivity (Catechism of the Catholic Church, No. 2358) while holding homosexual acts as intrinsically disordered (Catechism, No. 2357)... Since students have considered both sides of an argument, they leave here better prepared to assist clients than their counterparts from schools that teach only one perspective... To do otherwise would be a violation of our basic mission as a Catholic university in the Franciscan tradition.
What's next, creationism as a viable alternative to evolution in Biology 101? Ridiculous.
About the Author
Eric Bugyis teaches Religious Studies in the Division of Politics, Philosophy and Public Affairs at the University of Washington Tacoma.