Thursday, April 26, 2007
Blogger Matthew Fish has an interesting post up about the recent court decision involving the religious nature (or not) of Saint Louis University. (For earlier MOJ comments on this case, go here). Matthew is not a Jesuit-basher, at all (indeed, I gather from his blog that he is considering joining the Society of Jesus) so his reflections struck me as particularly worth engaging. Here's a bit:
[A]ccording to this decision, and what seems to be the case, the Jesuits (today at least) are no longer really in control of their universities, but only merely affiliated. Of course individual Jesuits may be incompetent or may be exemplary in their respective positions, but as a corporate body, it seems that they cannot change these schools in any kind of direct way any longer. For me, this seems to point to the importance of having patience with the present attempts of the Society of Jesus to continue to faithfully live out its charism and renew itself, particularly in its educational apostolates.
Still, the question remains: can we call these (and most Catholic universities then) “Catholic”? Or are our Catholic universities in fact “secular” in mission and identity (at least, insofar as the Constitution may be concerned)?
What hasn’t been mentioned is, in my mind, the greater responsibility possessed by the local ordinary. It is his responsibility as Bishop to hold “Catholic” institutions accountable, as well as protect or warn his flock. A Bishop can always tell a University they cannot call themselves Catholic, offer the sacraments on campus, as well as tell the Jesuits not to operate in the diocese.
In the end, I am left wondering, what does it mean after all to be a
? Does it mean much of anything anymore?
See also, of course, John Breen's "Justice and Jesuit Legal Education: A Critique".