A Simple Confusion that is Simply Confusing

Mike draws our attention, at Sacramentum Vitae, to an essay in the online version of America, the Jesuit magazine, by Terrance Klein of Fordham University. The essay’s subject is the question of the role of the Catholic educator in a pluralistic society, and Klein argues (surprise!) that the Jesuit tradition itself suggests that Catholic educators,  in teaching about matters of faith, should avoid the sort of “coercion” and “manipulation” that appear to constitute the modus operandi of more “conservative” forces in the academy. A good educator, one who has taken the time to establish a relationship of trust with a student, has no warrant for coercion or manipulation, Klein argues, and trust does not suppress questions or, indeed, a spirit of questioning. Hence, the “conservative” who, apparently, just wants her students to memorize the Catechism and be done with it, does not foster that spirit of inquiry and intellectual curiosity that is at the heart of genuine Christian humanism as it was conceived of by St. Ignatius of Loyola and continued in the Jesuit tradition. For good measure, Klein concludes his essay with some whining about “fundamentalism” in the political sphere that misunderstands what the Separation Clause really means.

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Freedom and Obedience

Brian McDaniel, the blogger at Ora et Labora, has been spearheading an effort to put together an electronic petition of 4000 “signatures” in support of the decision by the Board of Trustees of the University of San Diego (a Catholic university) to rescind its offer of a senior, chaired position to radical heterodox theologian Rosemary Radford Reuther. I have signed the petition and I hope that others will as well, but the issue raises the question of what the relationship is supposed to be at a Catholic University between academic freedom and obedience to Church teaching.

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