Wednesday, May 17, 2006
Catholic Citizens of Illinois Will Take Its Case Directly to the Vatican to Force Vincentian Order to Either Drop Queer Studies or Turn DePaul Over to Another Order that will be Faithful to Catholic Teaching
[This is a story, carried by The Wanderer, the oldest national Catholic newspaper, that has been blacked out by the Chicago media. It has major significance: a Catholic grass-roots organization pledging itself to force a Catholic religious order to either change the Queer Studies program at DePaul or vacate the archdiocese and give the nations largest so-called Catholic university to another order for direction. The reason the story has been deemed not acceptable for public consumption by any media source is not accidental: the temporary triumph of political correctness. The Sun-Times and Tribune, the Daily Herald and every single news outlet has ignored it despite its presence on the Catholic Citizens website. The blacked-out story is neither abusive nor inaccuratejust an example to which contemporary cultural public pressure has transformed supposedly free news carriers into variant successors of Izvestia and Pravda.]
By Thomas F. Roeser
CHICAGOCatholic Citizens of Illinois, a movement-based group of authenticist Catholics, has launched a campaign to get DePaul University to shut down its infamous Queer Studies program. Its not about to accept diplomatic evasion by the university or parsing from the Chicago archdiocese. In the final round, it serves notice that it will take its case directly to the Vatican and will request a personal visit with the Pope, if thats what it takes.
Earlier a group of Catholic students at DePaul asked Francis Cardinal George to intervene and cancel the programbut nothing has happened except the issuance of a bland, exceedingly balanced and evenly parsed statement from the archdiocese that meant all things to all men.
If DePauls authorities reject the demand to close the program down, Catholic Citizens will push the issue upward to Francis Cardinal George, the archbishop and ultimately the Vatican. Then if there is still no change, the organization will be unceasing in demanding the Vincentians leave Chicago and turn the massive university over to another religious order which will be faithful to Church teaching.
So far as is known, this is the first time that a Catholic lay organization has taken this stand, vowing to fight to the end to remove control of a so-called Catholic university from a major religious order on grounds it does not follow Catholic teaching.
Use of the word Queer has become fashionable by the gay-rights lobby, applying the term once considered by them to be bigoted to dramatize their cause, with prominent display of the word to gain attention and prompt sympathy for what activists consider is a repressed minority. DePauls adoption of the word shows that it is simpatico with latest terminology used by the movements militants.
In a sharply-worded but thoroughly researched letter it has sent to the university and Francis Cardinal George, CCI serves notice that it shall not rest until a final decision comes from the Vatican. A special letter, bristling with annotation and documentation, has been directed to the Congregation for Catholic Educations head, Zenon Cardinal Grocholewski.
Mrs. Mary Anne Hackett, CCI president and chief executive officer, told The Wanderer that in her estimation DePauls Queer Studies is a scandal and she is prepared to carry the fight to international lengths to try to get a ruling from Rome, if all other options fail, that the school drop the studies or relinquish its claim as a Catholic institution. (Full disclosure: this writer is chairman of Catholic Citizens and with its board voted enthusiastically to fight this case to the end).
DePaul University trades on the name Catholic, maintaining it is the largest Catholic school of higher education in the nation. But like many other universities that carry the brand-name Catholic, it long ago fell into rampant secularism. Its board of directors is composed of dignitaries that have peopled many other Chicago institutions: largely big business and Democratic party-oriented money bags who have been retained for their fund-raising expertise only, most of whom havent cracked an academic book since undergraduate days decades past. Those board members who are Catholic are either singularly uneducated on their faith or negligent to their duties toward the goal of Catholic education.
Mrs. Hackett has sent a thoroughly documentedindeed brilliantly researched and wordedletter to DePauls president, Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, C. M. She quadruples the letters effectiveness by directing copies and covering letters to Cardinal George, Cardinal Grochjolewski and Archbishop John M. Miller, secretary of the Congregation for Catholic Education. If these letters dont get results, plans are in the works to use even personal emissaries to call the clear-cut dereliction of Catholic academic responsibility to the attention of His Holiness Benedict XVI. This means the appeal is not going to be content with patent bureaucratic university or archdiocesan responses or clichéd arguments based on academic freedom. Catholic Citizens of Illinois has achieved statewide, some say nationwide, attention for taking its causes to the highest authorities, even if U. S. hierarchal feelings are ruffledwhich will probably occur in this case.
In her letter, Mrs. Hackett cites a Chicago Tribune article of Feb.20, 2006 where DePaul announces it will be offering a minor in Queer Studies. She requests that President Holtschneider cancel the course at once. The article says, The minor requires that students take an introductory course and five electives which can include courses in queer theory, history of sexuality in America, queer pioneers and gay and lesbian literature. She adds, As this article suggests, and later comments on National Public Radio confirmed, DePauls program is training the next generation of pro-homosexual activists.
This is totally at odds with the mission you state on your own website, she says and quotes it: We were founded by the Vincentians in 1898 and have grown to become the countrys largest Catholic university. The principal distinguishing marks of the university are its Catholic, Vincentian and urban character. She continues by quoting the universitys mission statement: By reason of its Catholic character, DePaul strives to bring the light of Catholic faith and the treasures of knowledge into a mutually challenging and supportive relationship. It accepts as its corporate responsibility to remain faithful to the Catholic message drawn from authentic religious sources both traditional and contemporary.
She declares that Queer Studies is contrary to clearly articulated Catholicism based on the Catechism of the Catholic Church with respect to homosexuality and tells the priest-president that your efforts to affirm people in this sinful lifestyle are utterly despicable and scandalous. She cites Article 2357 from the Catechism [2nd edition, 1994, Chastity and Homosexuality] that states Basing itself on sacred scripture which presents homosexual acts as acts of grave depravity, tradition has always declared that `homosexual acts are intrinsically disordered. They are contrary to natural law. They close the sexual act to the gift of life. They do not proceed from a genuine affective and sexual complementarity. Under no circumstances can they be approved.
Mrs. Hackett follows up with Article 2358, which says, The number of men and women who have deep-seated homosexual tendencies is not negligible. This inclination, which is objectively disordered, constitutes for most of them a trial. They must be accepted with respect, compassion and sensitivity. Every sign of unjust discrimination in their regard should be avoided. These persons are called to fulfill Gods will in their lives and, if they are Christians, to unite to the sacrifice of the Lords cross the difficulties they may encounter from their condition.
Further, she cites Article 2359 which calls homosexual persons to chastity. By the virtues of self-mastery that teach them inner freedom, at times by the support of disinterested friendship, by prayer and sacramental grace, they can and should gradually and resolutely approach Christian perfection.
Then she calls attention to the fact that Queer Studies is contrary to Ex Corde Ecclesia, the encyclical of John Paul II on Catholic universities, issued on August 15, 1990. The encyclical maintains that the strengthening of Catholic identity rests primarily with the university itself The identity of a Catholic university is essentially linked to the quality of its teachers and to respect for Catholic doctrine. It is the responsibility of the competent Authority [the university itself, its officers and Board of Trustees] to watch over these two fundamental needs in accordance with what is indicated in Canon Law.
She stresses the encyclicals Article 5 which insists that Every Catholic university is to maintain communion with the universal Church and the Holy See: it is to be in close communion with the local Church and in particular with the diocesan bishops of the region or nation in which it is located. In ways consistent with its nature as a university, a Catholic university will contribute to the Churchs work of evangelization.
In particular the encyclical says, each Bishop has a responsibility to promote the welfare of the Catholic universities in his diocese and has the right and duty to watch over the preservation and strengthening of their Catholic character. If problems should arise concerning this Catholic character, the local Bishop is to take the initiatives necessary to resolve the matter, working with the competent university authorities in accordance with established procedures and, if necessary, with the help of the Holy See.
Mrs. Hackett then outlines how Queer Studies is contrary to the clear teachings of St. Vincent DePaul the founder of the Vincentians, after whom the university is named and on whose life it is purportedly modeled. She quotes the sainted founder inveighing against a human being governed by the lower and animal part of his nature declaring that, in his words, such a person deserves to be called a beast rather than a man.
She points out that faculty statements have been made on National Public Radio declaring that the Queer Studies program is within the `Vincentian spirit. She concludes that portion of her letter by stating [italics mine]Having had recourse to the writings of St. Vincent, we believe these statements by your faculty are a malicious insult to St. Vincents profound hatred of sin and self-centeredness. If this is truly the `spirit that animates your Order, it has no business supervising a university in this archdiocese.
Queer Studies is, she says, contrary to the clear teachings of Cardinal George. She declares, Cardinal Georges consistent teaching on the subject of homosexuality is clear. He has refused communion to Rainbow Sash homosexual activists and directly participated in rules adopted by the Catholic bishops that preclude homosexual men from entering the seminary or Catholic priesthood. Cardinal George has consistently defended Catholic theology regarding chastity and sexuality. We suspect that by this time he has either directly or indirectly communicated his disapproval for this scandalous program and many other courses in blatant contradiction of Catholic doctrine. [Italics mine].
She says that Queer Studies is contrary to the clear mandate given to trustees. Given the fact that this program is contrary to Catholic Catechism, papal direction, the wishes of your Cardinal and the teaching of St. Vincent DePaul, you leave the trustees no choice but to become involved publicly in this scandal in the event that you refuse to resolve this issue by your own authority.
Copies of the letter were sent to Cardinal George; John Simon, Trustee Chairman, a former Democratic state supreme court jurist, son of a well-known president of the Cook county board, well-connected partner of the elite law firm Jenner & Block and all trustees including; Mary Dempsey, lawyer, Mayor Daleys head of the Chicago Public Library board and wife of Philip Corboy, multi-millionaire personal injury lawyer and former finance chairman of the Democratic National Committee; state Supreme Court Justice Anne Burke, once interim head of the National Review Board instituted to investigate clergy sexual abuse by the National Conference of Catholic Bishops (who has been a vocal critic of some of the bishops including Cardinal George).
Additional trustees receiving the letter include Gery J. Chico, managing partner of the law firm of Chico & Nunes, a highly-connected Democrat, former chief of staff for Mayor Daley, former president of the Chicago Board of Education and a onetime Democratic candidate for U. S. Senator who supported abortion and gay rights; Robert A. Clifford, managing partner of the Clifford Law Offices, a multi-millionaire personal injury lawyer and prominent Democratic contributor; Frank M. Clark, president of Commonwealth Edison; Richard Driehaus, billionaire stock investor and graduate of DePaul; Mrs. Sondra Healy, former chief executive officer of Turtle Wax, Inc., prominent Republican contributor and wife of the president of the United Republican Fund of Illinois and John J. Vitanovec, president of WGN-TV.
Mrs. Hackett concludes, For these reasons, we ask that you immediately cancel the so-called Queer Studies program and that a sincere effort be made by the Vincentians to comply with the spirit of Ex Corde Ecclesia and the teachings of your founder, St. Vincent DePaul going forward. If this is not the course of action you are willing to undertake, you leave us no choice but to elevate this matter to Cardinal George as outlined in the norms of Ex Corde Ecclesia and to the Vatican for their assistance. It will also be our pleasure under these circumstances to demand that the Vincentian Order be invited to leave the archdiocese of Chicago and that the supervision of DePaul be delegated to a more responsible and Roman Catholic Order.[Italics mine].
To Cardinal Grochelewski, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education in Rome, Mrs. Hackett said, In public statements DePaul faculty and staff have been unapologetic in seeking to train the next generation of homosexual activists who will use their Catholic university experience to attack the traditional family and the Catholic faith. We believe this scandal must be stopped immediately. She requests the Cardinal to end the program, send a written clarification to the DePaul administration and trustees on their duties under well-established Catholic doctrine and calls for an apostolic visitation of DePaul to gather information to assess whether DePaul university, under its current administration by the Vincentians, is fit to continue as a Catholic university.
[Your comments are invited.]