Catholic College Pulls a Mozilla

 

By all accounts, Sister Jane Dominic Laurel is an accomplished theologian and teacher. She is a graduate of the Pontifical University of St. Thomas Aquinas in Rome, a university under the direct authority of the Holy See. Sister Laurel has been on the faculty of Aquinas College in Nashville, Tennessee, for some time, and is a widely respected theologian, particularly in Pope John Paul II’s theology of the body. Sister’s website features a number of free video courses on family and sexuality. In those presentations Sister is kind, prayerful, and patient. She is obviously an excellent scholar and teacher. 

But woe to Sister Laurel. She has crossed swords with what Michael Voris calls the “Church of Nice,” and a firestorm has erupted.

Here is how this all happened. Sister was invited to give a talk entitled “Masculinity and Femininity: Difference and Gift,” at a student assembly at Charlotte Catholic High School on March 23. The Catholic News Herald reports that Sister spent about half her time on homosexuality and its effects on children raised by same-sex parents. The talk was not recorded and no transcript is available. But, but, but: Boom!

Some students and parents were incensed, nay outraged. Sister apparently said, in line with Catholic teaching, that homosexual acts are gravely sinful. That was just too much for sensitive students and their sensitive parents. So up went the online petition demanding the school and Diocese apologize.

For what?

Well, according to the petition, Sister’s words were “offensive and unnecessarily derogative.” There are, however, no references to these offensive words. As per usual, the petition is limited to hyperbole: “We are incensed that you (the school) knew the content of this speech and allowed these ideas to be expressed in a school that should be preaching a message of love and acceptance.” Translated from the Newspeak, that sentence means, “how dare you speak the truth if it hurts our feelings?”

It gets worse, naturally: “We resent the fact that a schoolwide assembly became a stage to blast the issue of homosexuality after Pope Francis said in an interview this past Fall that ‘we cannot insist only on issues related to abortion, gay marriage, and the use of contraceptives methods.'”

In short, Sr. Laurel has committed heresy by deciding she “knew better than our Holy Father.” Evidently, the Holy Father has abolished the Church’s ancient teachings on sexual morality so now we should all make nice. It doesn’t matter that the Holy Father has repeatedly affirmed the Church’s teachings on these matters. It does not matter that the Catechism declares these actions to be deeply—gravely—sinful. The Holy Father says be nice.

If your bologna meter is beeping wildly that is because this is all nonsense.

No one has been able to identify Sister’s alleged insensitivity, because there is no evidence to prove it. Since the talk was not taped, and no transcript made available, the claims made in the petition are, at best, mere assertions. But that is all that is required nowadays.

No one has challenged, or can challenge, Sister’s orthodoxy. No one has challenged her commitment to the truth. But she is called hateful and intolerant. So suddenly she is gone. Sr. Laurel has cancelled her other speaking engagements, apparently at the request of her Mother Superior. Like all Dominican Sisters, Sr. Laurel owes a vow of obedience to her Mother Superior. Fine. Mother Superior is under no obligation to explain herself to the broader audience, nor should she.

But Sister Laurel has also taken a sabbatical from teaching at Aquinas College. This was voluntary, of course. Yea, sure.

On April 4, Sister Mary Sarah Galbraith, President of Aquinas College, issued a statement about the mess. The statement is illuminating — mostly for its abject sophistry. Just a quick look at paragraph one is enough:

“The events around the recent talk by Sister Jane Dominic Laurel have produced a great deal of speculation from many sides. Among the commentators, there are few who were actually present to hear the talk, which was not recorded.”

That means there is no evidence that Sister Laurel said or did anything to violate her duties as a Catholic teacher.

However, that didn’t stop the College from reaching the conclusion that while “Sister Jane Dominic spoke clearly on matters of faith and morals [note that: clearly, i.e., consistent with the truth]…her deviation into realms of sociology and anthropology was beyond the scope of her expertise.” Ah, the irony. The College President’s statement includes the following: “The College’s patron, St. Thomas Aquinas, was known for his ability to thoughtfully consider all things and retain what is true, regardless of the source of that truth.” Interesting. Sister Laurel went outside her area of expertise, by citing sources in sociology and anthropology, but she, unlike St. Thomas, had no business seeking truth from other “sources of the truth.”

It gets worse.

According to the Statement, “There are no words to reverse the harm that has been caused by these comments.” I guess I’m a bit dense, but what comments? What harms? A few brats and their numbskull parents have hurt feelings? They should avoid the Confessional like the plague, and probably do.

The dissembling goes on: “The community of Aquinas College is saddened by this extreme outcome [Translation: we don’t know what Sister said but, what with all the wailing, it must have been extreme] and wishes to reiterate that this is not something the College condones or desires to create.”[Translation: we sure wish Sister would put sensitivity above truth so that we wouldn’t have to engage in this sort of dishonesty].

The local Church and the Diocese have largely stood up for Sister Laurel. Tim Reid, the pastor at St. Ann Catholic Church, sent a mass email stating: “The Church has already lost too many generations of Catholic students to…the very muddled and watered down faith.” Which really means that the Church of Nice has sold the young into damnation.

Father Roger Arnsparger, diocesan vicar for education stated, “Our students are bombarded with confusing messages about sexuality.” That means that if Sister Laurel was blunt … well, it’s time to be blunt. Unfortunately Sister has felt the blunt force trauma of the College’s niceness. The College is under the authority of the Dominican Sisters, so the diocese cannot interfere with its decisions. So Sister is out.

It’s hard to say where Sister Laurel may go from here. The Church of Nice has long tentacles, and now that Sister has been so mean, the doors may slam in her face. Sister Laurel is humble and will doubtless take her persecution as a call from God to bear all evils for Christ’s sake and the sake of His Church. Sister’s departure from Aquinas College, and the losses she has endured, may be just the sort of suffering needed to spark a renewal of truth. May God Bless Sr. Laurel.

There are 27 comments.

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  1. A Beleaguered Conservative Member
    A Beleaguered Conservative
    @

    Any questioning of the reigning view is impermissible.  There is no need for evidence of the specifics.  All questioning is hate speech that creates a hostile environment that is anathema to safety and inclusion.   “Dissent” is simply a disguise for dangerous bigotry.  The kinds of things that Sister Laurel said–general or specific or anything else– are harmful and therefore cannot be allowed.  Repressive tolerance is becoming institutionalized.

    • #1
  2. user_536506 Member
    user_536506
    @ScottWilmot

    Thanks for posting this here Mike. I’ve been following the story and the commentary on this at catholic culture.org. The fate that Sister Jane Dominic has suffered is intolerable.

    Funny, I’ve been reading some interviews with Walker Percy and this from an address to seminarians is appropriate to say to Sister Jane Dominic as well:

    Never has there been such loneliness in the midst of crowds, never such hunger in the face of satiation. Never has there been a more fertile ground for the seed and the harvest the Lord spoke of. All that is needed is a bearer of the Good News who speaks it with such authenticity that it can penetrate the most exhausted hearing, revive the most jaded language.With you lies the future and the hope. You and the Church you serve may be only a remnant, but it will be a saving remnant.I salute you and congratulate you. God bless you.

    • #2
  3. user_86050 Member
    user_86050
    @KCMulville

    According to some news reports

    Diocese of Charlotte officials have said there is no video or audio recording of what Laurel said at the school. But students who attended told their parents that Laurel cited studies and statistics that she said indicated gays and lesbians are not born with same-sex attractions and that children in single-parent homes have a greater chance of becoming homosexual. She also suggested there were correlations between masturbation and homosexuality, some students said.

    To which my first response is, so what? If this is what she said, you can even say that she is wrong … but to say that her comments were offensive, you have to create the offense yourself. 

    Is it offensive to be wrong? (I’m not even so sure what she said is wrong, since this is really hearsay from students … who are hardly unimpeachable witnesses.) But whether she’s wrong or not … let’s assume she is wrong … even then, does that make her comments “offensive?”

    These displays of “offense” reveal spectacularly weak minds. People who register complaints because they were forced to hear something that doesn’t correlate with their own beliefs are fools. When they act offended, they’re telling all the world how weak their minds really are. 

    • #3
  4. user_536506 Member
    user_536506
    @ScottWilmot

    Another Walker Percy quote (speaking on vocations) that I find appropriate to this story:

    The Western World, both capitalist and communist, is so corrupt and boring that sooner or later young people will get sick of it and look for something better. All it takes is a couple of high livers, like Francis of Assisi, a real dude, and Clare, a rich teenage groupie, to turn it around, to actually put into practice the living truth of the Church’s teachings, of the Gospel.

    May the Dominican Sisters of St. Cecilia and the new vibrant young orders continue to be a sign of contradiction in this world.

    • #4
  5. Bryan G. Stephens Thatcher
    Bryan G. Stephens
    @BryanGStephens

    I have experienced backlash in bible study when I criticize another religion. It is not being “nice”.

    If I cannot condemn another religion for being false in church, where else can I do it? The same goes for sin. Where we are is that we cannot condemn any sin, unless it is the sin of being out of lockstep in the beliefs of liberal thought. Even in church.

    What this shows is the only real church to a lot of people is worship of a secular god.

    • #5
  6. mask Member
    mask
    @mask

    It’s a very sad commentary that the rantings of those in charge of a Catholic institution are not distinguishable from those of the far left wing radicals running Mozilla.

    • #6
  7. mask Member
    mask
    @mask

    So even Catholic universities are beholden to the leftist ideology of “tolerance so tolerant it won’t stand for any dissent”.

    I wonder if Aquinas College has banned the New Testament as well.

    • #7
  8. Mario the Gator Member
    Mario the Gator
    @Pelayo

    Thanks for posting this.  It is weak-minded Catholics like these students and parents in Charlotte that are destroying the Church (and destroying our country by voting for Democrats).  These people should look past their desire to be part of the “cool” crowd and remember that Jesus Christ himself said “But from the beginning of creation, God made them male and female.” (Mark 10:6)  Popular public opinion does not exceed Biblical teachings in my mind, and anyone who thinks it does cannot claim to be acting according to their faith.

    • #8
  9. Schrodinger's Cat Member
    Schrodinger's Cat
    @SchrodingersCat

    Woe to those who call evil good, and good evil; Who put darkness for light, and light for darkness; Who put bitter for sweet, and sweet for bitter!

    Woe to those who are wise in their own eyes, And prudent in their own sight!

    Isaiah 5:20-21

    • #9
  10. douglaswatt25@yahoo.com Moderator
    douglaswatt25@yahoo.com
    @DougWatt

    The Catholic Church is for saints and sinners. For respectable people the Anglican Church will do. – Oscar Wilde

    Perhaps the school should be renamed Charlotte Unitarian Catholic High School.

    • #10
  11. user_385039 Member
    user_385039
    @donaldtodd

    Scott Wilmot: #2 “The fate that Sister Jane Dominic has suffered is intolerable.”

    It would appear that the good sister will get to share in the sufferings still to be undergone for the sake of the body of Christ.  That privilege, it would appear, is going to be more than her previous college will merit.

    • #11
  12. Pilli Member
    Pilli
    @Pilli

    It is easy to see why there are so many Catholics of my generation (Boomer) that have fallen away from the Church.  We grew up speaking Latin during Mass (any many of us studying it in school) and learning a fairly black & white version of morality.  Then came the 60’s and Vatican II.  Things changed.  Lots of Catholics lost track of what had changed and what had not.  Other Catholics advocated for a more “open” Church (meaning anything goes.)  

    What has resulted is a confused drift away from the Church.  Of those that stay, many practice Catholic Minimalism.  Or as a friend used to say, “It’s the least I could do.  And I always do the least I can do.”  Or the alternate ending, “Because if I could do less, I would.”

    I don’t think there is a Church of Nice so much as there is a Church of Lazy.  It is easier to go along with secularists rather than stand for morality.  It is easy to criticize someone for speaking what the Church teaches but hard to follow those teachings.

    I caught a news blurb on the night of Ash Wednesday about a priest that dispensed the ashes to people as they drove by not even getting out of their cars.

    “…and I always do the least I can do.”

    • #12
  13. Fricosis Guy Listener
    Fricosis Guy
    @FricosisGuy

    OK, let’s even grant that she was teaching false information and needed to be “reproved, rebuked, and exhorted.”

    But zero tolerance? One strike and you’re out? Whatever happened to “complete patience and teaching?”

    Paging 2nd Timothy 4.

    • #13
  14. mask Member
    mask
    @mask

    Fricosis Guy:OK, let’s even grant that she was teaching false information and needed to be “reproved, rebuked, and exhorted.”But zero tolerance? One strike and you’re out? Whatever happened to “complete patience and teaching?”Paging 2nd Timothy 4.

    Well, there are venal sins.
    And mortal sins.
    And worst of all sins against leftist ideology which requires a form of soft excommunication.

    • #14
  15. Umbra Fractus Member
    Umbra Fractus
    @UmbraFractus

    More evidence (as if any were needed at this point) that the gay normalizers who loudly insist that they have no intention of interfering with religious institutions are lying, and have been all along.

    • #15
  16. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    Fricosis Guy:OK, let’s even grant that she was teaching false information and needed to be “reproved, rebuked, and exhorted.”But zero tolerance? One strike and you’re out? Whatever happened to “complete patience and teaching?”Paging 2nd Timothy 4.

     Reproved, rebuked, exhorted would be fine. But you would think the “false” data would have been presented so we could judge whether the College had grounds.

    • #16
  17. Elephas Americanus Member
    Elephas Americanus
    @ElephasAmericanus

    The phrase “The Church of Nice” and the overall content of this story calls to mind a song lyric that’s always been a favorite of mine, from Sondheim’s Into the Woods:

    You’re so nice.  You’re not good, you’re not bad – you’re just nice.

    I’m not good, I’m not nice – I’m just right

    • #17
  18. Lucy Pevensie Member
    Lucy Pevensie
    @LucyPevensie

    This is just unbelievable to me.  We have had such a positive experience with Catholic school for our daughter here in NC. It seems impossible that there would be such a wildly different level of understanding of Catholic doctrine by students (and parents and teachers) within the same Catholic school system in relative geographic proximity to us (although it is a different diocese).

    I looked around online for more information on this story, because I was hoping that if I read more about this online somewhere I would find some kind of positive resolution of the story.  Instead, I stumbled on an online petition against the sister with comments posted by students, parents, and teachers. It was incredible.  All of the commenters were claiming the right to determine what Catholic doctrine was, and many were decreeing that the sister’s presentation had committed the unforgivable sin of making them “feel distance from their Catholic identity.”  One parent said that if she had been informed about the presentation she would have pulled her child out of school during it.  

    I sincerely hope that the diocese doesn’t cave in on this.  These parents and students need to be told that Catholic doctrine is not determined by popular vote, and that if they want the privilege of a Catholic education, it comes with the requirement of being taught the Catholic church’s positions.  If they don’t like it, they ought to feel free to go elsewhere.

    • #18
  19. user_3444 Coolidge
    user_3444
    @JosephStanko

    Lucy Pevensie: This is just unbelievable to me.  We have had such a positive experience with Catholic school for our daughter here in NC. It seems impossible that there would be such a wildly different level of understanding of Catholic doctrine by students (and parents and teachers) within the same Catholic school system in relative geographic proximity to us (although it is a different diocese).

    One thing to bear in mind is that they aren’t really part of the same system at all.  Most Catholic elementary schools in the U.S. are attached to the local parish, and most Catholic high schools are run by the local diocese.  In practical terms this means they are both under the immediate supervision and authority of the local bishop.

    In contrast, most Catholic colleges and universities are actually independent non-profit organizations run by a lay board of administrators.  There has been much debate in recent years about what degree of authority, if any, the local bishop has over these institution.  Many have asserted that the principles of academic freedom trump any oversight by the Church, and thus even a theology professor at a self-described “Catholic” college should have the academic freedom to teach and write anything he believes w/o “interference” from the bishop or anyone else.

    Look up the Land O’ Lakes Statement and Ex Corde Ecclesiae if you want to learn more.  I don’t know the details of this specific case or how Aquinas College in Nashville is organized, just offering some general background info.

    • #19
  20. Nanda Panjandrum Member
    Nanda Panjandrum
    @

    I wondered how long it would take ’til something like this happened…By the way, didn’t Pseudo once remind us that the word “nice” has its antecedents in “clueless” and/or “useless”?

    • #20
  21. Suzanne Temple Member
    Suzanne Temple
    @SuzanneTemple

    I don’t know what the sister said, so I’m trying to reserve judgment, but I find it curious that the school said the problem with her talk was not faith or morals, but rather that she “[deviated] into realms of sociology and anthropology …beyond the scope of her expertise.”

    I’m not Catholic, so correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t what she did simply arguing from natural law? Maybe she used discredited research, but the school isn’t saying that. They’re saying she shouldn’t have even tried to use evidence in sociology/anthropology to argue against homosexuality. Would the school have permitted the same kind of talk if it came from a Catholic sociologist or anthropologist? I doubt it. It’s almost as if the school is saying that a Catholic teacher can say that homosexuality is sinful only because God’s Word says so, but the teacher can’t attempt to offer reasons (like “natural” reasons) for why God would not want us to engage in that behavior. Maybe I’m reading too much into the school’s statement, but it sounds like they’re hamstringing Catholics who want to give students and the public reasons for any of the Church’s teachings on moral issues.

    • #21
  22. user_536506 Member
    user_536506
    @ScottWilmot

    Pope Francis, in a recent homily, had some thoughts on Christian persecution today. From CWN:

    Christians should not be surprised when they face hostility and persecution, because that “is the way of the Lord,” Pope Francis told his congregation at Mass on April 4.

    Reflecting on the plots by the Pharisees against Jesus, the Pope remarked that, as Jesus said, the prophets of Israel “are all persecuted or misunderstood.” In the Church, too, “many of the saints have suffered persecution,” he observed, “because they were prophets.”

    The Pontiff said that there are more martyrs today than in the past: Christian heroes who “tell society in love with ease and desirous of avoiding problems.” He also spoke of societies in which it is illegal to own the Gospel, to teach the faith, or to gather for prayer.

    Jesus is the model for all who suffer persecution, the Holy Father said, because he took upon himself “all the persecutions of his people.”

    • #22
  23. A Beleaguered Conservative Member
    A Beleaguered Conservative
    @

    KC Mulville:

    These displays of “offense” reveal spectacularly weak minds. People who register complaints because they were forced to hear something that doesn’t correlate with their own beliefs are fools. When they act offended, they’re telling all the world how weak their minds really are.

    ——————————

    This is a remarkable insight.  I wonder if the reason there is so much reflexive hostility to opposing views is that people are unable to defend their own views.  When you cannot defend your own views, when you are not accustomed to hearing different views, then you are both shocked and confused when you hear someone expressing an idea that is against your own.  This perhaps creates a sense of moral and intellectual paralysis that can only be overcome by anger and by prohibiting other viewpoints.  In a healthy world, in a world where people could give a reasoned account of themselves, they would respond to a position, at least in part, by argument, rather than by simply pounding their fists.        

    • #23
  24. Sal Member
    Sal
    @Sal

    “It will never be known what acts of cowardice have been motivated by the fear of appearing insufficiently progressive.” Charles Peguy

    • #24
  25. Kim K. Member
    Kim K.
    @KimK

    A Beleaguered Conservative:

    KC Mulville:

    These displays of “offense” reveal spectacularly weak minds. People who register complaints because they were forced to hear something that doesn’t correlate with their own beliefs are fools. When they act offended, they’re telling all the world how weak their minds really are.——————————This is a remarkable insight. I wonder if the reason there is so much reflexive hostility to opposing views is that people are unable to defend their own views. When you cannot defend your own views, when you are not accustomed to hearing different views, then you are both shocked and confused when you hear someone expressing an idea that is against your own. This perhaps creates a sense of moral and intellectual paralysis that can only be overcome by anger and by prohibiting other viewpoints. In a healthy world, in a world where people could give a reasoned account of themselves, they would respond to a position, at least in part, by argument, rather than by simply pounding their fists.

    First there was the self-esteem movement. Now we have anti-bullying crusades. Kids (and adults) have been given the consistent message that they are #1, and that anything that may run counter to their cherished sensibilities is mean. My husband says it is harder and harder to correct people at work without someone claiming “hostile work environment.” We are becoming a nation of babies.

     

    • #25
  26. Mama Toad Member
    Mama Toad
    @CBToderakaMamaToad

    I haven’t been able to read all the comments here, but I thought some of you would be interested in an interview that was published in 2012 with Sister Mary Sarah Galbraith, the president of Aquinas College, on the occasion of her appointment as president. 

    Her words seem kind of sad now:

    “Also, culturally the threats to the identity of the human person and marriage between a man and woman are forcing Catholic institutions to examine why we exist in the first place. This can only lead to a deeper commitment to the Church, to imparting the truths of the faith and to renewing our identity as Catholic institutions of higher education. We’re in a very exciting juncture in the history of the Church.”

    • #26
  27. user_554634 Moderator
    user_554634
    @MikeRapkoch

    Mama Toad:I haven’t been able to read all the comments here, but I thought some of you would be interested in an interview that was published in 2012 with Sister Mary Sarah Galbraith, the president of Aquinas College, on the occasion of her appointment as president.Her words seem kind of sad now:“Also, culturally the threats to the identity of the human person and marriage between a man and woman are forcing Catholic institutions to examine why we exist in the first place. This can only lead to a deeper commitment to the Church, to imparting the truths of the faith and to renewing our identity as Catholic institutions of higher education. We’re in a very exciting juncture in the history of the Church.”

     That’s why this story is so troubling. Aquinas College and the Dominican Order to which Sister Lauren belongs has always been faithful to the Magisterium. If Sister had deviated from orthodoxy that would explain the situation. But the very outrage her talk triggered proves to me that she was right down. the line. It also seems to prove the title: Catholic College Pulls a Mozilla.

    • #27

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