REPORT CARD: Catholic School Founder Dies in California Mudslide; Georgetown OKs ‘Gender and Sexuality’ Dorm; Bishop Barron Challenges ‘Anti-Intellectualism’

St. Augustine Academy founder killed in California mudslide

In tragic news, St. Augustine Academy’s founder, Roy Rohter, died when a mudslide in Montecito, Calif., swept him from his home on Jan. 9, according to The Ventura County Star.

His wife, Theresa, was rescued and is reportedly in stable condition. Officials said heavy rain caused the mudslides that killed at least 17 people and injured dozens more.

The Cardinal Newman Society has recognized St. Augustine Academy in Ventura, Calif., as a Catholic Education Honor Roll school.

“Roy’s life has been in service to his good, loving and ever-forgiving God,” said Headmaster Michael Van Hecke. “He has done so much for so many people, and pro-life and Catholic education causes.”

Rohter was also closely associated with Thomas Aquinas College—a Newman Guide-recommended college—from which his daughter graduated in 2000. TAC president Michael McLean called Rohter “a man of strong faith and a great friend of Catholic education.”

Van Hecke reminded everyone that “there is one thing Roy would want from everyone—prayers. He said so many times that after his passing, ‘Make sure everyone prays for my soul.’”

Misguided UST sexuality course distorts Catholic teaching

The University of St. Thomas in Minnesota is offering a course on “Theology of Sex/Gender/Body,” which “prompts students to reflect on their vocation as a sexual, gendered, and embodied being, and to do so interreligiously.”

It’s clearly not a Catholic theology course, as one should expect from a Catholic university that holds to the truth of Catholic teaching. According to the university’s website, the course is “an introduction to theological reflection on sex, gender, and the body in the Christian tradition and the Islamic religious traditions.” The class takes “into consideration how theology has collaborated with patriarchal, imperial, ethnic, heteronormative, and socio‐economic powers.”

Worse, the course description also states that its “central focus will be on contemporary feminist, queer, and post‐colonial theologies that attempt to undermine oppressive systems in Asian, Latin American, North American, Middle Eastern, and/or other contexts.”

Georgetown approves ‘gender and sexuality’ dorm

After rejecting the idea for a “Gender and Sexuality” dorm last year, Georgetown University’s Office of Residential Life has now approved the “Crossroads: Gender and Sexuality” dormitory for the 2018-19 academic year for students intent on “exploring” the topics as part of a “Living Learning Community.”

According to The Blaze, LGBTQ Resource Center Director Shiva Subbaraman said the dorm would “promote knowledge, critical conversation and a deeper understanding of LGBTQ histories, cultures, and social and political movements.”

Vice President of Student Affairs Todd Olson said the dorm is “in keeping with our Catholic and Jesuit values to provide a language, perspective, and sense of inclusion for deepening our sense of cura personalis.”

The dorm, he added, will “follow Georgetown’s current housing policies,” which allows students to live with those who identify as the same gender.

One Georgetown student and member of the LBGT group, GUPride, called the dorm “A REALLY BIG DEAL AT A JESUIT UNIVERSITY.”

I think we can all agree on that. It’s also a really bad deal for students.

Tax deductions for private school tuition

The St. Louis Post-Dispatch reports that the federal tax plan passed last month will enable many parents to receive a state tax deduction for their child’s private school tuition.

The new law allows families to use state-sponsored 529 college savings plans to pay tuition, books, and tutoring expenses for kindergarten through high school.

Sister Nathalie Meyer, director of Catholic education for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, said, “Anything that gives our parents some options so that they can consider Catholic schools is wonderful.”

Pope Francis: Parents and educators must work together

Speaking to members of the Italian Association of Catholic Teachers earlier this month, Pope Francis called on parents and educators to work together to help instruct children and form them in the faith, the Catholic News Agency reports.

Speaking of the fraying relationship between educators and the family, he said, “everyone knows that this relationship has been in crisis for some time, and in certain cases is completely broken.”

The Holy Father called for “a constructive collaboration for the good of children and young people” and “understanding the objective difficulties that one and the other encounter today in education, thus creating greater solidarity.”

Marquette professor to have his day in court

In a piece for the Washington Post, George Will urged Wisconsin’s Supreme Court to side with a former Marquette professor who was fired for standing up for Catholic teaching and free speech.

The Cardinal Newman Society has previously reported on this sad affair in the Jesuit university’s history. To sum up, Cheryl Abbate, who was teaching an ethics course at Marquette in 2014, disallowed debate on the issue of same-sex marriage and told a student (on tape) that any position against same-sex marriage was “not appropriate” and “harmful.”

Professor John McAdams emailed her about the incident and blogged about it. Shortly after that, the university disciplined McAdams (at Abbate’s request) and ordered him to apologize. He refused and found himself unemployed despite the university’s academic freedom contract with tenured faculty.

McAdams asked the state supreme court to step in.

“Prospective Marquette students, and Marquette alumni, must decide whether this school, awash with the current academic hysteria and corruption, merits their confidence and support,” wrote Will. “Wisconsin’s Supreme Court must lay down the law that can stop some of the rot this case illustrates.”

While Marquette standing up for Catholic teaching would be refreshing, a court’s involvement in Catholic colleges’ hiring and firing decisions is always problematic.

Former St. Gregory’s University president lands new role

The former president of St. Gregory’s University, a Newman Guide-recommended college which closed in December, has been named the Archdiocese of Oklahoma City’s new chancellor, Oklahoma News reports.

Michael Scaperlanda will lead the archdiocese’s administrative office, serve as canonical adviser to the archbishop, and act as the top adviser on legal matters.

“Scaperlanda’s vast leadership experience, his passion for the Catholic faith and his lifelong commitment to excellence will be tremendous assets for the archdiocese, our parishes and families,” Archbishop Paul Coakley said.

Congratulations to Mr. Scaperlanda, and may God bless him in his new work.

Bishop Barron: Young Catholics need to engage in intellectual arguments

“This is not the time for anti-intellectualism in our Church!” proclaimed Bishop Robert Barron, auxiliary bishop of Los Angeles, to more than 8,000 college students and others on Jan. 2, according to The Catholic News Agency.

“We have lots of young people, you know them, they’re your friends and colleagues, who are leaving the Church for intellectual reasons,” Bishop Barron said. “If He is Lord, everything in your life belongs to him. Your personal life, yes. Your body, yes. Your friendships, yes. Your political life, yes. Your entertainment, yes. All of it.”

He made the comments at the Fellowship of Catholic University Students’ Student Leadership Summit in Chicago, which trained student leaders for evangelization.

To prepare the next generation of Catholics to challenge secularism, evangelize the culture and engage in intellectual debate, we need more young people to have the serious formation of authentic, Catholic education—in the home and in Catholic schools and colleges.

Catholic school fires white nationalist teacher

The Academy of the Holy Cross in Maryland recently fired a substitute teacher and field hockey coach after he admitted an affiliation with a white nationalist think tank, according to International Business Times.

The teacher “was fired from Holy Cross immediately after his affiliation with the ‘alt-right’ came to my attention,” Kathleen Ryan Prebble, the academy’s president and CEO, told parents. “Prior to his firing, he was successfully using an alternate identity in his work with this atrocious group.”

This is a great example of hiring and firing for mission—a right that should be upheld for Catholic schools in all cases when a school finds that a teacher does not witness to the Faith in word and deed.

New UK Education Secretary supports Catholic schools

British Prime Minister Theresa May has removed the country’s Education Secretary and replaced her with a Catholic member of Parliament known for his support of religious schools, according to the UK Catholic Herald.

May sacked Justine Greening and replaced her with Damian Hinds, who attended a Catholic grammar school. Hinds supports removing the controversial admissions cap, which mandates that new Catholic schools must admit at least 50 percent of students from other faiths, a mandate which effectively forces schools to turn away children precisely because they are Catholic.

Hinds has previously called for ending the cap, warning that Catholic schools would lose their “distinctive character” if the policy remained.

Irish Catholics protest news anti-Catholic school rule

Catholic groups are warning of legal action to prevent the Irish government from moving ahead with plans to ban Catholic primary schools from prioritizing the enrollment of Catholic children over children of other faiths, according to

Education Minister Richard Bruton announced a plan to prevent Catholic schools with full enrollment from prioritizing the enrollment of baptized children. Other schools, such as those run by the Church of Ireland schools, would still be allowed to prioritize members of their own denominations.

The Catholic Primary Schools Management Association has indicated it will challenge the plan’s constitutionality.

Hindi nationalists threaten Catholic school

A radical nationalist group in India attempted to force its way onto the campus of St. Mary’s Post Graduate College to perform a Hindu ritual, according to The Christian Times.

Father Maria Stephen, public relations officer for the Catholic Church in Madhya Pradesh, said the police were called after members of Akhil Bharatiya Vidyarthi Parishad (ABVP) “were demanding that they perform a Hindu ritual inside the premises.”

Father Shaju Devassy, St. Mary’s director, said “the students of the institution are feeling insecure due to these violent procedures.”

The state has offered the school increased police protection.

Sadly, anti-Catholic sentiment and action is a regular occurrence in many parts of India. International Christian Concern indicated that Christians endured about two dozen religiously motivated attacks throughout India during the Christmas season.

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