Dr. Hugh F. Lena, Ph.D., Provost of Providence College.
The decision by Hugh F. Lena, the Provost of Providence Collegea
Catholic college in Rhode Islandto cancel a lecture in support of same
sex marriage has infuriated some on the faculty. While the Provost
offered to reschedule the lecture to be sure that an opposing viewpoint
on authentic Catholic teachings on marriage could be presented, he cited
a document published by the American bishops in 2004, "Catholics in Political Life,"
to support his decision.
lecture was to be given by John Corvino, chairman of the Philosophy
department at Wayne State University in Detroit, and author of a new
book, What is Wrong with Homosexuality?
Press, 2013). Covino has given the lecture on many college campuses
throughout the country, including some Catholic college campuses.
Some on the faculty at Providence have protested the decision. According to an article published earlier this week in The New York Times,
Fred K Drogula, president of the faculty senate at Providence, said he
could not find a college policy dictating that every lecture must have
an equal opposing viewpoint. Further, Drogula said it was
"inappropriate" to invoke the bishops' document, "Catholics in Political
Life," because it applied primarily to politicians.
Drogula is wrong about that. The bishops' document clearly states: "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" (emphasis in original).
Professor Corvino a platform without an opposing voice on Catholic
teachings on same sex marriage would suggest that Providence supports
same sex marriagesomething that is contrary to Church teachings. The
Providence Provost made the right decision.
But, what is even more interesting is that The New York Times reported on this story at all
. The Times
does not usually become concerned with regional stories like this. But, it is likely that publishing such a story gave Times
reporter Laurie Goodstein yet another opportunity to discuss (and spin)
the controversial interview with Pope Francis that was published last
week in America
. In her article on Providence situation,
Goodstein reminded readers that Pope Francis warned Catholics to refrain
"from frequent condemnations of homosexuality, abortion and birth
control, and emphasizing mercy and love." Her piece was the perfect
opportunity for Goodstein to reiterate how "obsessed" too many
conservative Catholics supposedly are on these issues. In the
incendiaryand misleadingtitle of Goodstein's previous Times
article, readers learn that "Pope Says Church is 'Obsessed with Gays, Abortion, Birth Control.
" In fact, the Pope never said that at all.
truth is that Pope Francis never said that any Catholics were
"obsessed" with same-sex marriage and abortion. Steven Greydanus of the National Catholic Register has pointed out
the only time the word "obsessed" is used in his interview is when Pope
Francis said: "The Church's pastoral ministry cannot be obsessed with
the transmission of a disjointed multitude of doctrines to be imposed
insistently." And the Times
changed its headlines on the story
at least twice, as Greydanus quips, using "an inflammatory headline, a
more moderate one, and then a crazy, go-for-broke moonbat insane
It seems likely that The New York Times
be more obsessed with the Catholic Church's teachings on these issues
than most Catholics. At least Dr. Lena is upholding Church teaching,
even while misinformation and confusion abounds in the newsroom.