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Loyola University Maryland renaming dorm that honored Flannery O’Connor

An online petition begun in June asked that the dorm be renamed. It has garnered almost 1,100 signatures.

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CNA Staff, Jul 30, 2020 / 05:01 pm (CNA).- The president of Loyola University Maryland announced Friday that the Flannery O’Connor Residence Hall was being renamed, saying, “some of her personal writings reflected a racist perspective.”

The hall is to be renamed for Sister Thea Bowman, a member of the Franciscan Sisters of Perpetual Adoration and an African-American.

“During recent conversations around racism, one of the issues that caught the attention of our community was the name of Flannery O’Connor Residence Hall,” Fr. Brian Linnane, S.J., wrote July 24 to the university community. The school, which in 2019-20 had a total enrollment of 5,473, is in Baltimore.

“Information coming forward recently about O’Connor, a Catholic American writer of the 20th century, has revealed that some of her personal writings reflected a racist perspective. The building names we use at Loyola should declare to our students—and entire community—what sort of values we esteem and hope to instill in our graduates. A residence hall must be a home and a haven for those who live there, and its name should reflect Loyola’s Jesuit values,” Fr. Linnane wrote.

An online petition begun in June asked that the dorm be renamed. It has garnered almost 1,100 signatures. The petition’s founder, Regina McCoy, wrote that “Recent letters and postcards written by Flannery O’Connor express strong racist sentiments and hate speech. Her name and legacy should not be honored nor glorified on our Evergreen Campus.”

Attention was drawn to apparent racism in O’Connor’s personal writings by “How Racist Was Flannery O’Connor?”, a piece that appeared in the New Yorker in June. There, Paul Elie wrote that “letters and postcards she sent home from the North in 1943 were made available to scholars only in 2014, and they show O’Connor as a bigoted young woman.”

O’Connor was a short story writer, novelist, and essayist who died in 1964. A devout Catholic, she often attended daily Mass. In the nave of her parish, Sacred Heart, in Milledgeville, Ga., acknowledgement is made of her membership there, and her gravestone evidences interest in — if not devotion to — her, through the rosaries, holy cards, flowers, and notes that can be seen on it.

Her name will be replaced on the Loyola residence hall with that of Sr. Thea, whose cause for canonization was opened in 2018 by the Diocese of Jackson.

In his letter to the university community, Fr. Linnane wrote that Sr. Thea, who died in 1990, “was the granddaughter of slaves … An educator, speaker, and African American activist, Sister Thea inspired people to work to eliminate racism and work for justice and served as an important voice within the Catholic Church in the United States during the 20th century. She lived a life of great holiness, demonstrating deep compassion for the materially poor and those at the margins of society.”

He put the renaming of the residence hall in the context of taking “intentional action steps in our equity and inclusion work” and “envisioning a more just, anti-racist future at Loyola.”

Fr. Linnane added that he is forming a committee “to evaluate all philanthropic and honorifically named spaces on campus” which “will determine a process for maintaining and removing building names and develop a rubric for naming and renaming, leading a deliberative, inclusive process that centers our mission, values, diversity, equity, and inclusion in these decisions.”

He told the Catholic Review, the publication of the Archdiocese of Baltimore, that “particularly in [O’Connor’s] fiction, the dignity of African-American persons and their worth is consistently upheld, with the bigots being the object of ridicule.”

He added, though, that “a residence hall is supposed to be the students’ home. If some of the students who live in that building find it to be unwelcoming and unsettling (to have it named for Flannery O’Connor), that has to be taken seriously.”

In renaming the dorm, Fr. Linnane said the university was looking for “someone who reflects the values of Loyola and its students at the present time and whose commitment to the fight for racial equality – from an intellectual point of view and from a faith perspective – would be more appropriate for the residence hall.”

The Catholic Review reported that a letter signed by more than 80 authors and scholars was recently sent to Fr. Linnane, encouraging him to maintain O’Connor’s name on the dorm.

The letter was written by Dr. Angela Alaimo O’Donnell, associate director of the Curran Center for American Catholic Studies at Fordham University.

In it, O’Donnell wrote that “If a university (Catholic or otherwise) effectively banishes Flannery O’Connor, why keep Sophocles, Dante, Shakespeare, Dickens, Dostoevsky and other writers who were marked by the racist, misogynist, and/or anti-Semitic cultures and eras they lived in the midst of? No one will be left standing.”

Dr. Jennifer A. Frey, an assistant professor of philosophy at the University of South Carolina, wrote in First Things July 29 that she believes O’Connor’s life and work is “worth celebrating, in spite of the fact that she harbored some of the racist attitudes of her time and place.”

O’Connor “knew that we are all marked by sin and therefore in need of God’s merciful grace,” Frey stated.

She said O’Connor’s “letters and journals reveal a woman aware of and forthcoming about her own sins. We ought to prefer O’Connor’s self-deprecating and revelatory honesty over a self-congratulation fed and watered by self-deception.”

The petition to rename the Flannery O’Connor residence hall “presents an opportunity for Catholics to address the contemporary demand that those we honor be perfect and free from the stain of sin—especially the sin of racism,” Frey wrote.

“We should resist this impossible demand. We need moral exemplars to provide models for our own lives, but we must accept that those exemplars will inevitably be wounded by sin … We need to see those we honor in their wounded humanity, or we will never be able to see ourselves in them at all.”


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43 Comments

  1. While disturbing it was to be anticipated. It only affirms the very high esteem I have for Flannery O’Connor as a person and as a writer of prophetic dimension. Ironic that a woman who could so clearly read “the signs of the times” is now consigned to the ash heap by yet another rogue woke Jesuit hungry for the limelight. Flannery would find this attack an honor. She could see through Linanne’s element with blistering clarity.

  2. At what point will we decide that King David was a racist, or Paul a bigot, or even Jesus himself guilty of hate speech? What is going on in society, and unfortunately now in the Catholic Church and its institutions, is not promotion of Christ, the Church or even truth and justice, but rather a bowing to an antagonistic culture of censorship imposed by a small percentage of people with agendas that promote a humanist, progressive, liberal, even antichrist ideology with an ultimate goal to eliminate Christ and the Church from society altogether.

    Thanks be to God, the gates of Hell will not prevail.

  3. So many people today, looking down their self-righteous noses at people from the past and judging them by today’s “standards”….how incredibly pompous. It sickens me.

  4. Perhaps, in its quest for moral perfection, Loyola University Maryland will recognize its own vulnerability and just cease to exist, since it can hardly confine its purge of the culpable to racial bigotry. Its students might be briefly inconvenienced, but then they would be liberated to seek some other institution of higher learning, presumably one with a truly impeccable history of moral superiority. How hard would that be?

    And as for faculty and staff, well, the truly righteous will welcome the institution’s demise.

  5. Professor Randall Smith has already exposed THE ABSOLUTE UGLINESS AND BRUTAL INJUSTICE OF THE SLAVE-OWNING JESUITS OF MARYLAND. He notes that instead of giving up the MILLIONS of DOLLARS of wealth and property that they have “piled up” for themselves as a direct result of selling hundreds of black slaves, they choose instead to brutally accuse a defenseless young woman who threw off the hatred and bigotry of the evil time and place she was born into, in the Jim Crow South.

    Read Smith here:

    https://www.thecatholicthing.org/2020/07/29/the-artificial-jesuit/

    I know a priest and teacher who worked for years at Loyola, and left them permanently, because every time decisions confronted “the community” involving their home, they always opted to spend more money on themselves, such as installing “luxury kitchens” in the “community house.”

    If such persons like “Rev.” Linanne and Regina McCoy and their allies are free to unjustly smear a courageous young woman from the Jim Crow South, who despite being trapped inside the evil society of the Jim Crow South, and doubly-trapped by a deadly disease that confined and cut short her own life, and despite this double-dilemma used her wits alone to throw off the evil that she was born into and imprisoned inside, and fought against the racial bigotry all around her, then I presume we are all free to call Linanne and McCoy et al what they are.

    Linanne and McCoy and all people allied with them are money-grubbing material cowards and frauds, who by the way we can very rightly assume reject Jesus’ commands about sexual morality, and in fact their “Jesuit values” have almost no intersection with Jesus.

    They, like their eternal colleague the sociopath sex abuser and money-grubbing fraud Theodore McCarrick, with whom they threw off Catholic morals and teaching in 1967, when they joined him in publishing their “Land if Lanes Statement,” are flagship members of The McCarrick Establishment, where cash is king, and Jesus is just a marketing brand.

    May they be condemned by Jesus of Nazareth for their cowardly injustice to Ms. Flannery O’Connor, and if they are lucky, I suspect The Lord Jesus will, having condemned them for their ACTUAL SINS, bring forward his daughter Flannery O’Connie, and ask her if she thinks Linanne and McCoy et al should be JUSTLY punished with the same brutal judgment they have so UNJUSTLY pronounced against Flannery O’Connir, and she will say instead, “No Lord, be merciful, because their sin was born of their own ignorance.”

    • Chris in Maryland – I, a graduate of Loyola High in Baltimore and a former resident of Maryland, like your style.

      Well said.

      • Thank you Terrence. These brutal, lying, money-grubbing, self-gratifying frauds make me vomit.

        May they join their money-grubbing hero McCarrick in infamy.

    • There is a follow-up article:

      Flannery O’Connor Was Not a Racist

      Lorraine V. Murray
      THURSDAY, JULY 30, 2020

      Description:

      Note: Many readers were moved by Professor Smith’s column yesterday about the hypocrisy in Loyola University Maryland’s removal of Flannery O’Connor’s name from a dormitory because of vague charges of “racism.” We thought readers would also benefit from today’s exploration of O’Connor’s actual views about race. – Robert Royal

  6. This is more of the same nonsense! Flannery O’Connor is one of the finest short story writers the world has ever produced. She was also a devout Catholic. Classifying her as a racist is like calling a dove a dung beetle. Shame on Loyola Maryland for succumbing to the purveyors of Untruth.

  7. We read from Fr. Linnane, S.J., “The building [read deconstruction] names we use at Loyola should declare to our students—and entire community—what sort of values we esteem and hope to instill in our graduates.”

    So “Sr. Thea Bowman.” But wait! The surname “Bowman” refers narrowly to an Englishman or a Scott whose occupation was that of an archer (Middle English bow[e]man, bouman [from Old English boga ‘bow’ + mann ‘man’]). Last time I heard, ye olde English and Scotch men were not only (binary!) males, but white dudes, and what’s worse, they fiddled with bows—-meaning militarism rather than fine-tuned violins. We’re talking here of the Bowman family seat in Westmorland and Northumberland from very ancient times, possibly well before the Norman Invasion of 1066 A.D.!

    A military Invasion [!] versus today, in the modern world of fine-tuned Microaggression and competitive Victimhood, where one of two of the non-English/Scotch Loyola graduates might now feel justly offended! Better, too, to drop the name Loyola, since he’s just another militarist white dude. Also, why even claim to be Jesuit—-since to belong to any one religious order is to not belong to (exclude!) all others…

    So, “yes” to Sr. Thea Bowman, as a person. But, THEREFORE, “non placet” to yet another dose of hackneyed, safe-space tutelage—-Loyola’s cookies-and-milk litany of “mission, values, diversity, equity, and inclusion” pieties.

  8. Jesuit values in contemporary times cave to student demands and protests ie the “Vagina Monologues “ that swept across the campuses of many Jesuit schools years ago. Their values lack integrity, always changing to suit the students and they call this “living the Gospel.”

  9. I graduated from Loyola High School in Baltimore lo these many years ago and I was proud of it and remain so. But that was many years ago and given what the Jesuits have come to – I wish I could say I’m surprised by this but sadly I am not.

    To describe the actual action itself, no other word fits but – pathetic.

  10. It’s apparent that the socialists are truly taking over our Country. And, do you expect anything less from the Jesuits. I’m sure that St. Ignatius of Loyola is turning over in his grave at the heterodoxy of the Jesuits.

  11. More Liberal vs. Conservative politics instead of Catholic teaching will not get you new readers. Sorry, but I don’t believe the renaming of buildings is on Christ’s agenda!

  12. Most of the people who have lived on this planet since time began have believed things about people they believed to be different from themselves that are different from what we believe today. If Father Linnane does not understand that, he is the most poorly educated Jesuit I have ever heard of.

  13. I think the Jesuit responsible for this injustice should rightly be called a “terrorist.” He obviously is aligned with the terrorism of the Democrat-Socialist Party of America. This Jesuit should hang his head in shame but my guess is that his hubris renders him incapable of experiencing shame.

  14. Her stories are not racist. Just the opposite. This is a grave injustice. Fie on these colleges, especially supposed Catholic Colleges, that go with the wind. They have no roots. They shuck their roots like this.

  15. Authors whose works are kept in print in the Libary of America are probably not too posthumously concerned about dorm names:

    https://loa.org/books/105-collected-works

    Excerpt from the description:

    “Nothing O’Connor wrote was ever lukewarm. Not a tepid sentence of hers exists…. If I were to be consigned to that mythical desert island with only a bottle of some brand of aspirin and one book, I suspect the Collected Works of Flannery O’Connor might be my choice.” — Doris Grumbach, National Public Radio

  16. I would suggest the morally bankrupt and cowardly leaders of Loyola University would do well to use Velcro in the future when attaching names to buildings so they can change them more easily. Of course, it’s going to be especially expensive when they have to drop the name Loyola. Sooner or later someone will dig up or fabricate a document from Ignatius that won’t pass today’s virtue signaling People’s’ Commissar of Political Correctness and Adjusted History (PCPCAH).

  17. Well if we are going to all in the on cancel culture, every street, statue, building etc. named after John F Kennedy needs to be torn down, renamed or whatever. It is a well known that JFK had sex with whole lot of women in the White House while president, including an intern, which today would be called rape. To add to that his CIA oversaw the regime change in Vietman that resulted in the assisination of the Vietnamese President and his brother, who by the way were Catholic.

  18. It is a typical action for Jesuits. St Ignatius is probably looking down from heaven and wondering what has happened to his order. This is an order which harbors people like James Martin who supports the culture of gays in the Church as if they do nothing against God. Pathetic. Let him who is without sin cast the first stone. I am a product of a Jesuit College and am embarrassed by what is going on in supposedly Catholic Colleges in this country as well as Jesuit institutions. Do whatever the little children want. They are a product of the age of giving everyone a trophy just because participated. They along with Notre Dame no longer should be considered Catholic Colleges. They should charge their name to something not associated with the Church. I mean Notre Dame has hired Mayor Pete, an openly gay man married to another man and supports abortion up to and including birth. I am sure Our Lady really would approve of this hire. The Church has to stop and stand up to this cancel culture.

  19. This action by Loyola seems cowardly at best. Since when did we start demanding that anyone honored anywhere would have to also qualify as a saint?? I daresay NONE of us would meet that qualification and Jesus would not have needed to come here if we did. Racism is unsavory but I can think of a lot worse sins. Its past time to stop this cancellation culture insanity.Catholic colleges seem to think the more radically leftist they are , the more Catholic they are. I think that could not be further from the truth. As we see on our streets today, the left generally represents amorality and lawlessness, along with a great lack of self control. These are NOT catholic values. Maybe the Jesuits should stop trying to focus on the long past sins of the dead and concentrate on those happening NOW. You know, like shooting, burning, looting and deliberately trying to injure police. Somehow I dont think Jesus would be OK with that sort of stuff.

  20. But it is enough to rename only the dorm? What about university name itself, doesn’t it honor St. Ignatius, a well-known bigot and diversity hater?

    “Whoever calls the heretics Evangelicals should pay some kind of fee, so that the Devil may not rejoice at having the enemies of the Gospel and the Cross of Christ being given a name contrary to their works.”

    “Heretics should be called by that name in order to raise horror of those who are such and cover their deadly venom with the veil of a name of salvation.”

    How can be accepted this in the 21st century?

  21. Besides being heresiarchs, the Jesuiticals are obviously morons. Have they never read Miss O’Connor’s stories? She was against biases of all sorts — racial, social, even religious.

    In her literature, bigots always look foolish and petty.

    I’ve also heard people claim that Mark Twain was racist. Again, a moronic statement. Both authors were unusual for their times because they faced the reality of prejudice head-on and exposed it.

    So when are the Jesuiticals commencing their book burnings?

    One of the most amazing aspects of recent history is how the leftists have become the anti-science, book-burning reactionaries.

    It’s actually quite comical.

    Like I said, morons.

  22. This is incredibly rich.

    Per Wikipedia:

    <>

    When can we look forward to the closing of Georgetown University, Loyola of Maryland, along with the Jesuit order throughout all of America?

  23. I would want to see those postcards and letters in their entirety for myself before determining that Flannery was a racist. It is bizarre to me that in today’s climate, and with the self-righteous elite (modern-day Pharisees), all are judged and deemed guilty just by accusation. This is not democratic and is being used in these turbulent times to undermine all that is good in this country. Also, is anyone out there without sin? We all grow and evolve during our time here and hope not to be judged by our wrong thinking and doing of our past but to be remembered for the good we did and tried to foster as we became enlightened. That should be encouraged and would bring about possibilities for discussions and growth. We are all flawed – that is the human condition since the leaving of the Garden of Eden. The hope for all is that each of us would try to live as nobly as we can,while respecting all and leaving the world a bit better. There is a quote about the evil that men do living after them but that the good is often interred with their bones. We should keep that in mind. There is No One who is perfect. If we are expecting that, we will be sorely disappointed and will be left with no mentors, heroes, or leaders. Each of us could easily come under attack ourselves. That all said, there is right and wrong – there is absolute truth from the Lord Jesus Christ and the Bible, and that is what we should all aspire to, while balancing judgements on the past.

  24. I hit “Post Comment” and a response cmme back that I had already responded. No sure what that was about, because I had not.. Anyway, we all need to look at the good that anyone does, not look for and search out any supposed wongs or misdeeds. None of us is perfect. I would prefer seeing the entire letters and postcards for myself. Political correctness is starting to stiflie intellectual curiosity and discussion with knee-jerk reactions becoming the norm now. Hmmmm. Wonder how future generations will view all this?

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