Peter denied Christ three times before the cock crowed and then he wept.

St. Louis University, a Jesuit school, celebrated a legal victory last week that affirmed it is not controlled by the Catholic church or by its Catholic beliefs. Hooray?

The Missouri Supreme Court agreed with the school in handing down a decision that the city of St. Louis did not violate state and federal constitutions by granting the university $8 million in tax increment financing for its new arena.

Opponents of taxpayer funding of the arena (The Masonic Temple Association) sued the school in 2004 by stating that The Missouri Constitution prohibits public funding to support any “… college, university, or other institution of learning controlled by any religious creed, church or sectarian denomination whatever.”

So hungry for the $8 million, the Jesuit University went about proving they’re not controlled by the Church or by any particular creed. SLU argued that it was not controlled by the Catholic church, or even by the ideals of the Society of Jesus. They won. In a 6-1 decision, the court said SLU “is not controlled by a religious creed.”

The school also pointed out to the court that despite its Jesuit tradition, the university does not require employees or students “to aspire to Jesuit ideals”.

In a friend-of-the-court brief filed on behalf of the Masonic Temple Association, the American Civil Liberties Union said it was “surprising the University would sell its heritage for $8 million.” Hey look, I agree with the ACLU for once. Judas only got 30 pieces of silver. The good Jesuits got $8 million. Not bad.

In the end, SLU said, “Many of the institutions identified as Catholic in the nineteenth century…have undergone changes over time…They have adapted themselves, their corporate structures and their missions to serve a largely secular world.”

I wonder if the cock crowed in that courtoom or if anyone was even listening.