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USD faculty to school prez: We're not that into you.

Nearly one hundred University of San Diego faculty members have declared they have no confidence in university president Mary Lyons because she rescinded a fellowship invitation to British theologian Tina Beattie. (She last wrote for us in January: "A Modus Vivendi? Sex, Marriage, and the Church.") The theolgian's offense? She signed a letter supporting civil marriage rights for gay people. Joshua McElwee has the story:

"The president has shown herself to be ethically bankrupt, for which reason the motion is placed that this body declare a loss of confidence in her leadership," read the motion approved in a meeting Tuesday of the academic assembly of the university's College of Arts and Sciences .

As McElwee previously reported, it looks like Lyons buckled under pressure from a major donor and Catholic Action for Faith and Family,a self-appointed watchdog group advised by the new archbishop of San Francisco, Salvator Cordileone.Beattie has been writing about this on her own blog. Her initial response is here. And a follow-up post is here:

Church teachings on issues of social justice and sexual ethics belong within that aspect of Catholic theology which is contingent, contextual and open to interpretation and development in the light of new cultural, scientific and intellectual challenges. This is not relativism, and there will always be debates as to where the boundary between revealed doctrine and natural theology should be drawn. In an incarnational theology, the two cannot and should not be held apart, because what we believe of God inevitably shapes what we believe of humankind, and vice versa. Some argue that there is very little room for negotiation and change on any matter about which the official magisterium holds a position, others argue that there has always been considerable room for a plurality of interpretations and debate on matters of moral theology and social ethics which are not part of the deposit of faith or the infallible teachings of the Church.Both positions are capable of being defended, but today there is a dangerous trend towards creeping infallibity which corrodes the boundaries of intellectual freedom and the authority of individual conscience in the life of faith. This means that those who have a more extensive and inclusive understanding of the authority of the magisterium can and do exercise considerable power to silence and harass the latter with the full weight of Rome behind them. The current climate of magisterial hostility to independent thought makes it impossible to work with integrity as a thinking, reasoning theologian in fidelity to the demands of conscience, academic freedom and Catholic identity.

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Grant Gallicho is an associate editor of Commonweal. You can follow him on Facebook and Twitter.



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"Criticism of papal pronouncements will be possible and necessary, to the extent that they lack support in scripture and the creed, that is, in the faith of the whole church. When neither the consensus of the whole church is had, nor clear evidence from the sources is available, an ultimately binding decision is not possible. Were one formally to take place, the conditions for such an act would be lacking, and hence the question would have to be raised concerning its legitimacy" (Joseph Ratzinger, Das neue Volk Gottes. Entwurfe zur Ekklesiologie. Dusseldorf: Patmos-Verlag, 1969, p. 144, as translated by Francis A. Sullivan, SJ in his CREATIVE FIDELITY: WEIGHING AND INTERPRETING DOCUMENTS OF THE MAGISTERIUM. Wipf and Stock Publishers, 2003, p. 89; published by Paulist Press, 1969).***"No doctrine is understood as defined infallibly unless this is manifestly evident" (Canon 749.3 in the 1983 Code of Canon Law).***To Mary Lyons: Words to ponder.

CORRECTIONFirst sentence in Ratzinger quote should read in relevant part, "Criticism of papal pronouncements will be possible and *even* necessary..."

I'm just not that into the faculty at the University of San Diego, or indeed all those employed by Catholic institutions who use their positions to undermine, attack, belittle, or demean Church teaching.

And "I'm just not into" folks who equate "Church teaching" with every papal hiccup and curial fart out of Rome.WE ARE THE CHURCH, we we laity probably know more about life and relevant theology than our (quote)official teachers(endquote) who entered seminary straight out of the 8th grade and don't know jack about real life.Stupid "Church teaching" be damned.(and that's my two cents worth)

Beattie's statement is fine, with one problem. She speaks positively of "independent thought". It seems to me that independent thought by a Christian/Catholic/wise person of any sort is rarely valuable, indeed, independent thought is, strictly speaking impossible. Everyone is dependent on the wisdom and experience of others, and especially in matters of morality we must take into consideration the thinking and experience of others. Natural law theorists especially insist on considering universal experience (where they can find it). Considering *all* sides of a disputed question has historically been an integral part of the notion of academic freedom in the great Western universities from those of the medieval period to the great ones of today. But since the '60s too many academics in secular schools seem to have forgotten this and have become intolerant of "politically incorrect" views, while Rome seems to have forgotten it entirely centuries ago.Shouting matches go nowhere. They're like dogs barking in kennels.

Nowhere on the university website does the vote of no confidence appear, I think. But searching for Beattie's name leads to lots of empty pages, a few pages saying "this event has been cancelled by the president", as well as to a few pdf files containing announcements of talks that now will not take place. Most pointed reference:"We regret to inform CCTCs supporters that Tina Beattie will no longer be presenting at this event as her visit has been cancelled by USD President Mary Lyons, a decision which did not involve anyone working with the CCTC."

Interesting that Ratzinger's theory of academic freedom in the Church is/was so liberal. While head of the CDF he was not so open. Does that mean that for him the CDF is not bound by those principles?

The people (particularly the priests) of my geographical but not worship home Diocese of Oakland get down on their knees each and every night and thank God for The Croc's transfer to San Francisco. Ad multos annos - anywhere but in Oakland!Sal and Ray = same feathered birds? Oh, yes:

Jim McCrea are you saying your's et al prayers helped initiate the Archbishop Cordilone's transfer to my city? Maybe the HS knows that the West Bay people are capable of converting , turning , educating , pastorizing so to speak the newly arrived . Time will tell and West Bayers have all the time needed because none of us ever move away. Where else is there to go? .

Based upon this short excerpt, Beattie shows herself to have a poor understanding of conscience, freedom, moral theology, the Magisterium, and Catholic identity. This lack of merit alone is enough to decline to give her a soapbox in a classroom. Of course, she is always free to say whatever she wants outside the classroom like most everyone else.

It sure seems to me like marriage has 'support in scripture'. And it also has 'consensus of the whole church' since its founding except for a very few people who now want to see 'new cultural, scientific and intellectual challenges'

Bebder: If, as you say, Beattie is "always free to say whatever she wants outside the classroom like most everyone else" - then why on earth is she being penalised by USD for something that she did indeed say "outside the classroom"? What she was proposing to say inside the classroom, in her role as visiting professor, had nothing to do with the content of the controversial letter, but about her specific field of expertise as a renowned theologian - and which is not in any way controversial.As one of the co- signatories of the now infamous letter, I must also correct a common misunderstanding. This letter did NOT encourage anyone to support same - sex marriage - it merely pointed out that there are good reasons why it is permissible for Catholics in good conscience, to do so. This right at times to follow conscience rather than the guidance of bishops on non-infallible teachings is well - established - so the actions of USD in cancelling her visiting fellowship at extremely short notice is not only grossly discourteous and in conflict with sound principles of academic freedom - it is also in conflict with established Catholic teaching on conscience.

Nearly one hundred University of San Diego faculty members have declared they have no confidence in university president Mary Lyons because she rescinded a fellowship invitation to British theologian Tina Beattie.

Nearly a hundred, eh? What's that, twenty percent? Including adjuncts? What's wrong with those eighty percent who didn't sign? Shameful.

Actually it's about half the full-time faculty.

Actually its about half the full-time facultyGrant,If thats the case, why didnt you write about the other half. Or is just those who make the most noise, however much drivel it is, that warrant attention.

It's not drivel. It's news. You may not like it but that won't make it go away.

Bruce, human slavery enjoyed the "consensus" of the official teachers until a *majority* of the bishops at Vatican II condemned it --- albeit without much fanfare --- during the last week of the council in December 1965. (I stress "majority" because apparently a minority did not support the condemnation for whatever reason!)Never mind that Jesus accepted slavery and the official teachers based their acceptance --- nay, approval? --- on the scriptural canon.Here we witnessed doctrinal development in the Church of Rome. I suspect we are witnessing such development about the morality of same-sex civil marriage. Maybe --- just maybe --- it won't require nineteen hundred years to reach the official decision point as it did with slavery!

"It's not drivel. It's news."Its news, too, like putting two and two together, and making five,especially when drawing general observations from half the full-time faculty,no staff, no administrator, and no trustee.

human slavery enjoyed the consensusJoseph,There is absolutely nothing the same about slavery and homosexuality. Slavery is imposed on its subjects by outside forces while homosexuality is an internally driven desire. Its completely phony to equate the two, although I will admit it has been effective. Any male is able to marry any female; that is not unfairly discriminatory. Just because some prefer not to, does not make the framework discriminatory. Btw, every decision you make is a discrimination for what you choose and against what you do not choose; so discrimination is not inherently bad.Further, unlike slavery, marriage is about the creation of a family, something which is inherent in a male/female pair and impossible for any same-sex couple. All children have a right to know their true (biological) father and mother; something which gay marriage denies them. It inherently discriminates unfairly against children because it is imposed on the children by an outside force.

Grant,This is the real news:Beattie's signing of the August letter, said O'Malley, "is taking a public stance that is inconsistent with the mission of the Center for Catholic Thought and Culture when the purpose of the Center is to promote the intellectual tradition of the Catholic church and the teachings of the church.""Certainly, Dr. Beattie is entitled to express her views or her perspectives as she sees fit," said O'Malley. "It's just simply that the institution is not obligated to give her an honorary fellowship or a visiting professorship."

Ed: actually we were betting on His Crocness being sent to a place more to his opinions ... such as Lincoln, NE or Uzbekistan. But, as I am a member of a parish in SF, it just proves that one should be very careful of what one prays for.Bruce: if you equate breeding with creating family, I think you need to reconsider your thinking. Family is one heck of a lot more. Ask those couples who are beyond child-bearing age (or choose not to have children) whether they have a family or not. Couples with children who are physically mistreated, ignored, farmed out to nannies, etc. are far from having "family."

In other words, Bruce, the mission of USD's Center for Catholic Thought and Culture is high-falootin' catechesis? Just regurgitate official doctrine --- but within a university setting? Half the full-time faculty, however, would clearly disagree with your portrayal. Their input cannot at all be ignored --- if the Center is truly dedicated to higher learning!Theology is faith seeking understanding.It is not regurgitation.Theology is not catechesis.

"There is absolutely nothing the same about slavery and homosexuality. Slavery is imposed on its subjects by outside forces while homosexuality is an internally driven desire. Its completely phony to equate the two..."It's not "completely phony to equate the two".In fact, the Church has equated the two in its official moral teaching:+ Rome has taught that homosexuality is "intrinsically disordered", etc. Engaging in same-sex sexual relations is contrary to the natural (moral) law.+ Likewise, Rome has taught in times past that human slavery was moral: + "As recently as June 20, 1866, the Holy Office had upheld the slave trade as moral. The justification was based both on philosophy (natural law) and on revelation (divine law). Various quotations from Scripture were cited in support of this position...The Fathers of the Church and local church councils, laws, Popes, and theologians were cited in the attempt to show that the approval of slavery was part of an unbroken, universal tradition" (Thomas Bokenkotter. A CONCISE HISTORY OF THE CATHOLIC CHURCH, pp. 487-488). + "The statement signed by Pope Pius IX declared that 'it is not contrary to the natural or divine law for a slave to be sold, bought, exchanged, or given, provided in the sale, purchase, exchange or gift, the due conditions are strictly observed which the approved authors describe and explain" (Bokenkotter, f.n. 22, p. 488). + The 1917 Code of Canon Law "maintained the positions set out in the old law that a free person contracting marriage with one believed to be free but in fact a slave contracted invalidly; and that slavery was an impediment to the reception of holy orders" (John T. Noonan, Jr. A CHURCH THAT CAN AND CANNOT CHANGE: THE DEVELOPMENT OF CATHOLIC MORAL TEACHING, p. 117). + "Also close to the era of Vatican II, Karl Rahner...published the thirtieth edition of 'Denzinger'. This authoritative and convenient handbook, first produced in 1854...contained the teaching of popes and councils from Clement I in the first century to the date of the edition...Not a single word repudiating or condemning slavery occurred in the collection" (p. 117).Yes, we discriminate every day. I like vanilla ice cream, and I don't like pistacho ice cream. Such discrimination is neither moral nor immoral. It's not even amoral.The Church, on the other hand, finally condemned human slavery in 1965. It is immoral. I think we're moving --- however gradually --- to convincing the bishops that homosexuality is not disordered and that faithful, lifelong sexual relationships of gays and lesbians are not immoral either. It's called 'development of moral doctrine'. Our current crop of hierarchs is learning the hard way that adult learning is a two-way street; this is not the model/paradigm preferred by this pope and his lackey bishops. It's not a matter of a new day a-dawnin'. The new day is already here! Thus a critical question: Can the current crop of bishops actually learn from the rest of us? Time will tell.

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