When reading the President of Creighton University’s explanation about how he came to the decision to revoke the invitation to speak of an assisted suicide advocate to speak, I am reminded of the ‘pathological liar’ character Jon Lovitz used to play on Saturday night Live.
“Why did I revoke the invitation? Ummm…prayerful reflection. Yeah! prayerful reflection. That’s the ticket!”
No university president would be caught dead admitting the likely truth. The truth that a bunch of bloggers cast enough light and heat on the situation, that the university (a catholic university) had to back down.
In a letter to colleagues, Fr. John P. Schlegel, SJ, explained that he made the final decision to cancel the talk Aug. 24, after reading Anne Lamott’s most recent publication and discussing the situation with the Jesuit university’s director of the Center for Health Policy and Ethics.
“My reflection on this question started well before the bloggers latched upon the invitation,” Fr. Schlegel wrote.
The university has “a responsibility to foster intellectual engagement with various perspectives and forms of knowledge,” he said.
“But as a Catholic university, we have the added responsibility of fostering engagement among these perspectives and forms of knowledge with the Catholic intellectual tradition,” he added. “As Pope John Paul II wrote, the Catholic university is ‘a primary and privileged place for a fruitful dialogue between the Gospel and culture.’”
Now, Fr. Schlegel is probably entirely truthful in his assertion, perhaps his reflection began before the bloggers brought this situation into the spotlight. Perhaps. Somehow when I read this, I still hear Jon Lovitz.
September 2, 2007 at 9:04 pm
Several years ago, the Catholic peace group Pax Christi scheduled a leader of the Religious Coalition for Reproductive Choice as the keynote speaker for their annual convention. When Pax Christi’s lay leaders refused to rescind the invitation, I begged two of our bishops involved in the organization to try to stop them, but both seemed quite indifferent–and angry at being called to defend Catholic teachings. Ultimately, the Catholic college hosting the convention–fearing demonstrations by pro-lifers–refused to allow the controversial speaker on campus, and the whole convention was cancelled.
Before long, one of the bishops tried to put a smiling face on the group’s public humiliation by publishing an essay praising Pax Christi for its bold pro-life stand. In response to a note that basically called him a liar, this bishop asserted that both he and his fellow bishop had really been prayerfully pondering the whole matter for months and would have taken a bold pro-life stand if circumstances had not intervened as they did. Sigh!