Matt C. Abbott
January 11, 2011
Quo vadis, Marquette University (and the majority of Catholic schools, for that matter)?
By Matt C. Abbott

First, I'd like to ask my readers to pray for the repose of the souls of (as well as the families of) pro-life activists Daniel T. Zanoza and Mary Jo Heiland. Both died recently of natural causes at the ages of 56 and 75, respectively. Requiescant in pace.



I almost hate to admit this, but it's gotten to the point where hearing about yet another scandal at a Catholic college or university simply causes my eyes to glaze over. Sadly, the majority of Catholic colleges and universities are, like their secular counterparts, cesspools of moral perversion, having lost their Catholic identity a long time ago.

Thankfully, there are still Catholics who care enough to hold these institutions' feet to the fire. Catholic activist Darla Meyers, of Hudson, Wis., is one such person.

Meyers sent the following e-mail (slightly edited) to Archbishop Jerome Listecki of Milwaukee, Father Robert Wild, S.J., president of Marquette University, and other officials:

    'It is with heartbreaking sadness we read of Marquette's decision to have on staff pro-death ex-Senator Russell Feingold. Feingold's public voting record of many years is very clear — there is not a single baby waiting to be born he did not think deserved the right to life. For a so-called 'c'atholic university to allow this public scandal must make the Sacred Heart of Jesus bleed copiously, once again.

    'It is without doubt that the scandal of priest-perpetrators who sexually abused minors occurred only because of the failure to follow Catholic teachings. Allowing pro-death Russell Feingold to 'teach' at Marquette is a continuation of the failure of Church leaders to uphold the teachings of the Catholic Faith.

    'We, the faithful Catholics of Western Wisconsin, continue to battle the culture of death on a regular basis, including writing letters to the editor. Recently, a writer lamented Russ Feingold being voted out of office, stating that voters threw Feingold out as a baby is thrown out with the bath water. Additional cruel irony was added by the writer that Feingold was a fighter for ordinary citizens.

    'I wonder how many people were struck by the heartless nature of those words. Children waiting to be born are ordinary citizens. Feingold voted that those ordinary citizens could be butchered by abortion. Unlike those murdered ordinary citizens, Feingold is alive. The aborted children are not. Feingold voted not only to 'throw the baby out with the bath water,' but he voted for the grisly procedure of partial-birth infanticide, stating that if the baby happened to survive partial-birth infanticide, the decision to either let that now-born child live or die is between the mother and abortionist. In the partial-birth infanticide 'procedure,' either the child is burned to death in-utero, or the baby is yanked from its mother by forceps, and then a scissors is stuck in the back of its head and its brains are sucked out.

    'For those who voted for and encouraged people to vote for a person who believed the barbaric crime of abortion should be legal, causing public grave scandal, I pray for all of us on the last day. God is merciful, but He is also a just judge. Please, God, have mercy on those who knowingly allow the deception of a 'c'atholic education to be provided by Marquette University to parents and students of Marquette. Those people will be held accountable, as we all will.

    '[The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has stated:]

      '...The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions. ...'

    'Protecting the faithful from the falsehoods of dissenters is also a spiritual act of mercy, in the form of instructing the ignorant who are not properly taught their faith and counseling the doubtful who are confused by the errors spread via dissenters.

    'Canon law elaborates on the specific rights and responsibilities of the Faithful. Canon 209 1 states: 'Christ's faithful are bound to preserve their communion with the Church at all times, even in their external actions.' Canon 212 1 states: 'Christ's faithful, conscious of their own responsibility, are bound to show Christian obedience to what the sacred Pastors, who represent Christ, declare as teachers of the faith and prescribe as rulers of the Church.' Canon 213 states: 'Christ's faithful have the right to be assisted by their Pastors from the spiritual riches of the Church, especially by the word of God and the sacraments.'

    'It is clear that Catholics are duty-bound to obey the teaching authority of the Church and correspondingly have the right to receive pure and proper doctrinal teaching from their local church/diocese.'

Father Wild responded (slightly edited):

    'Thank you for your message regarding the Marquette University Law School's appointment of former United States Senator Russ Feingold as a Visiting Professor of Law. Senator Feingold will teach an elective course, 'Current Legal Issues: The U.S. Senate,' to upper-level law students. The course will deal with institutional issues facing the Senate, the way the Senate interfaces with the Constitution and the Supreme Court, as well as the relationship between the Senate and the executive branch. His current commitment is to teach for one semester, with the option to extend it by mutual agreement.

    'Senator Feingold is almost uniquely qualified to teach such a course. He earned his undergraduate degree from University of Wisconsin-Madison, is a member of Phi Beta Kappa, a former Rhodes Scholar, and an honors law graduate of both Oxford University and Harvard University. He practiced law for six years with two major Wisconsin law firms, Foley & Lardner and LaFollette & Sinykin. Feingold served for 10 years in the Wisconsin Senate and 18 years in the United States Senate, where he was a member of the Foreign Relations, Intelligence, Budget and Judiciary Committees.

    'As Law School Dean Joseph Kearney noted in his blog post on this matter, the appointment of Senator Feingold does not in any way endorse his public positions or votes on any given topic. While some of the senator's views are controversial, his appointment at Marquette Law School does not suggest that all of them are right. But a university and its Law School — and that includes a Catholic university — are especially well suited to explore multiple dimensions of many of these issues.

    'I have been president here at Marquette for almost fifteen years and have thought a great deal about this question of having political leaders as part of our university community. As I suspect you would acknowledge, none of them are very likely to hold no position whatsoever that does not pose some problems in terms of the considered moral judgment of significant groups of people in this country or in terms of religious teaching, including Roman Catholicism. So if on that basis alone we would exclude a political leader from this campus, then on that same basis we had better exclude all of them.

    'To exclude all politicians seems contrary both to the cherished democratic values of our country and the four and a half centuries of efforts by Catholic, Jesuit educators to form their students into individuals that will be engaged members of their respective civic communities. With that said, and given both his extensive qualifications for the course he is teaching and the firm statement that we do not endorse his views on any given topic, I must respectfully disagree that we should not have hired Sen. Feingold as a visiting professor.

    'Thank you for taking the time to express your concerns. Whether you agree with the perspective I am advancing here or not, I do hope that it helps you understand better Marquette's position. God bless.'

Meyers responded (slightly edited):

    'If I were to take your response to the logical conclusion, you would not have a problem having a member of the KKK teach at Marquette University. After all, a KKK member would certainly bring unique views, opinions and experiences to the university. If I were to take your response to the logical conclusion, even Hitler would be a welcomed teacher. After all, his methods and experience would bring unique views to the university.

    'Russ Feingold publicly voted to legalize the murder of children waiting to be born. The Catholic Church teaches murder is a mortal sin and an intrinsic evil. How is it people can so easily symbolically walk over the corpses of these dead children by placing the people who vote for their murders in leadership roles?

    'If you were a baby waiting to be born, would you care about Feingold's unique qualifications? Your response does explain how the Holocaust was so 'successful.' By not seeing the corpses, it is easy to dismiss the evil. The evil of the Holocaust was committed (out of sight) in the death camps. The evil of infanticide through abortion is committed (out of sight) behind abortuary doors. Never again, President Wild? Or once again?

    'Why did you fail to acknowledge the USCCB's directive to which all Catholic institutions are to abide? If you choose not to abide by these directives, then be honest with the general public, and especially Catholic parents, who are misled into believing their students are receiving a Catholic education. Since you don't believe the Catholic Faith's teachings are to be upheld, then why do you keep up the charade of being a Catholic university? There must be something special about the word 'Catholic' for you to keep that affiliation.

    'Thank you for responding, and I will pray for your eternal soul that is in danger of being lost, as mine was when I was pro-choice. Thank God for God, for without His Holy Catholic Church and the Sacrament of Reconciliation, we would have no hope.'

I wish more Catholics were like Darla Meyers.

© Matt C. Abbott

 

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Matt C. Abbott

Matt C. Abbott is a Catholic commentator with a Bachelor of Arts degree in communication, media and theatre from Northeastern Illinois University. He's been interviewed on MSNBC, NPR, WLS-TV (ABC) in Chicago, WMTV (NBC) in Madison, Wis., and has been quoted in The New York Times and the Chicago Tribune. He can be reached at mattcabbott@gmail.com.


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