REPORT CARD: Scholars Issue Filial Correction; Pope Replaces Marriage Institute; College Presidents Bolster Faith and Reason

Scholars and clergy issue filial correction of Pope Francis

In a historic move, a group which includes theologians, Catholic college professors and clergy have issued a “filial correction” to Pope Francis, which accuses the Holy Father of “propagating heresies” and urges him to teach the truth of the faith, the National Catholic Register reports.

Titled “Correctio filialis de haeresibus propagatis” (A Filial Correction Concerning the Propagation of Heresies), the Holy Father received the letter in August.

The document alleges that the Pope has “upheld and propagated heretical opinions by various direct and indirect means”—especially in his encyclical Amoris Laetitia—which the scholars say encourages heretical views.

Signers include a few Americans, including Salvatore Ciresi, director of the St. Jerome Biblical Guild and a lecturer at the Notre Dame Graduate School of Christendom College; Christopher Ferrara, founding president of the American Catholic Lawyers’ Association; and John Rao, associate professor of history at St. John’s University in New York and chairman of the Roman Forum.

Pope Francis steers marriage and family institute in new direction

Pope Francis’ new papal motu proprio replaces the John Paul II Pontifical Institute for Studies on Marriage and Family with the John Paul II Pontifical Theological Institute for Marriage and Family Sciences. Not only does the document rename the institute, but it partly refocuses its mission on developing and promulgating the teachings of Amoris Laetitia, according to the National Catholic Register.

Pope St. John Paul II created the original institute following a Synod of Bishops on the family and his apostolic exhortation Familiaris Consortio (On the Family, 1981). Francis’ apostolic letter, Summa Familiae Cura, issued Sept. 19, said our modern culture requires “a diversified and analytical approach” which cannot be “limited to pastoral and missionary practices” of the past.

The institute offers students an opportunity to earn a diploma, including a doctorate in marriage and family sciences. Some scholars affiliated with the institute criticized last year’s Amoris Laetitia as not being in line with John Paul’s teachings.

The apostolic letter making the change comes just weeks after the death of Cardinal Carlo Caffarra, archbishop emeritus of Bologna, founding president of the Pontifical John Paul II Institute for Marriage and Family.

The Newman Society has seen much fruit borne from the original institute, with the steadfast and generous support of the Knights of Columbus, and we pray that such good work continues.

New Vatican document seeks to ‘humanize education’

In an effort “to humanize education” and build “a civilization of love,” Cardinal Giuseppe Versaldi, prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, recently unveiled the document “Educating to fraternal humanism. Building a ‘civilization of love’ 50 years after Populorum progression.”

The document, released Sept. 22, contains guidelines for education and will be distributed to all 216,000 Catholic schools and universities around the world, according to Vatican Radio.

The document clearly states that it aims to “promote a new way of thinking about human beings, life, society, and our relationship with nature.” It does not, however, substantially reference prior Church documents on the mission of Catholic education or the teachings of Christ.

The Newman Society will soon be releasing a commentary on the new document, written by Dr. Dan Guernsey, director of our K-12 Education Programs.

Newman Guide college presidents stress Faith and Reason

In a recent article, a number of influential Catholic education leaders—including Newman Guide college presidents—talked about importance of John Paul II’s encyclical Fides et Ratio (Faith and Reason, 1998), which characterized faith and reason as “two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of truth.”

“The foundation of Catholic education is Jesus Christ, who is the highest possible expression of greatness,” Benedictine College president Stephen Minnis told Legatus magazine.

And, he added, it was commitment to Christian education based in faith and reason which allowed Western civilization to flower “in unprecedented truth, beauty, and goodness.”

Derry Connolly, president of John Paul the Great Catholic University near San Diego, added that true Catholic education must train students to transform the world. “We have an intentional focus on preparing students to impact culture for Christ after graduation,” he said.

William Fahey, president of Thomas More College of Liberal Arts in New Hampshire, said Catholics have “a joyful and satisfying obligation to enrich and care for his or her soul and mind.”

“You cannot learn either the faith or the truth from those who have neither faith nor interest in abiding truth,” he continued. “I can’t think of any preparation for the ‘real world’ as rich as a Catholic liberal arts education.”

USD Law professor’s ‘controversial’ opinion

Outrage has not died down over a nearly two-month-old “controversial” opinion piece in the Philadelphia Inquirer by two law professors, including one from the Catholic University of San Diego School of Law.

The Aug. 9 article, authored by USD’s Larry Alexander and Amy Wax of the University of Pennsylvania law school, said 1950s “bourgeois culture” had some merit, all cultures are not equal, hard work is a good thing, waiting to have children until one is married is smart, and assimilating immigrants is good for the country.

But several student groups have produced enough indignation over the piece that professors and yes, even USD law school’s dean, have issued strongly worded statements and promises to create “working groups” to ensure diversity and inclusiveness on campus.

While saying he supported the professors’ right to their opinions, Dean Stephen Ferruolo warned that “we must be sensitive to all the members of our community, especially those who may feel vulnerable, marginalized, or fearful that they are not welcomed.”

With regard to the article, he wrote that “the views expressed by Professor Alexander were his personal views. I personally do not agree with those views, nor do I believe that they are representative of the views of our law school community.”

Yet Ferruolo fails to specify exactly what he disagree with. Alexander’s colleagues at the Catholic college penned a letter of their own supporting the professor and questioning the wisdom of the Dean’s public letter.

“In the context of the overall message, readers of the Dean’s statement will inevitably infer that, at least in the Dean’s view, Professor Alexander’s op-ed was in some sense supportive of exclusion or ‘racial discrimination or cultural subordination,’” they wrote. “In effect, the Dean adopted the extraordinary measure of singling out a colleague, by name, for a kind of public shaming through unsupported insinuation.”

Writing in the Wall Street Journal, Heather Macdonald said “each of these administrative capitulations sends a message to professors not to challenge the reigning ideology. The result is an ever more monolithic intellectual environment on American campuses, where behavioral analyses of social problems may not even be whispered.”

Sadly, this “controversy” is sure to continue.

Madonna University cancels Obama-linked speaker

On the heels of a critical report from Church Militant, Michigan’s Madonna University has canceled its invitation to a controversial speaker.

Dr. M. Shawn Copeland, who served on then-Senator Barack Obama’s Catholic Advisory Council, was scheduled to speak last week about social justice issues at the Catholic college operated by the Felician Sisters.

The college, however, issued a statement on its Facebook page saying it cancelled the presentation “due to some messages in the media that misconstrued the content of Dr. Copeland’s lecture.”

Sister Nancy Marie Jamroz, CSSF, director of the university’s Center for Catholic Studies and Interfaith Dialogue, which was set to host the event, said the university was “sorry for this lost educational opportunity for Madonna students and for the heavy blow it strikes to academic freedom and to Pope Francis’ vision for the Church.”

But far from damaging academic freedom, a sensible regard for the truth and a determination not to give prominent platforms to opponents of Catholic teaching are distinctive marks of a faithful Catholic education.

Ross Douthat’s solution to Catholic acrimony: debate

New York Times columnist Ross Douthat says the Catholic Church has some serious problems.

Austrian Catholic philosopher Josef Seifert lost his job for criticizing Amoris Laetitia. Father James Martin, S.J., lost a speaking gig at the Theological College of The Catholic University of America for his position on sexual morality. For Douthat, these are signs of a much bigger problem in Catholic institutions.

Douthat, however, believes he has the solution—vigorous and open debate.

“The only serious course is to invite serious argument and encourage respectful debate,” he said. “Have the Dominicans and Jesuits bring their online debates into university auditoriums and parish halls; let Catholic students and laypeople understand the stakes.”

Douthat wants to hear Fr. Martin speak—as well as those who criticize him. He would like to hear bishops “who clashed behind closed doors at the synods on the family address one another in public and in person.”

To be sure, all this talk of “dialogue” has gotten us nowhere. Debate is good. But don’t make the mistake of confusing young people about what the Church does hold and does not—if the Faith is to be questioned, have the debate in the secular sphere where falsehood still reigns, not at a Catholic institution founded upon the truths of our Faith.

Catholic students forgive, ask prayers for attacker

Forgiveness was the first order of business after a mentally ill woman attacked four young women with hydrochloric acid in Marseille, France, according to the UK Telegraph.

At least two of the victims—all from Boston College—responded by publicly forgiving their attacker.

“I did not receive any injuries from the attack in Marseille this morning, and we are all safe,” Courtney Siverling wrote on Facebook. “The French police and the U.S. Consulate have been wonderful, and we are so thankful for that.

“I pray that the attacker would be healed from her mental illness in the name of Jesus and receive the forgiveness and salvation that can only come from Him. ‘This I declare about the Lord: He alone is my refuge, my place of safety; he is my God, and I trust him.’ Psalm 91:2”

Another student asked her Facebook friends to pray for the attacker.

Saint Matthew and Catholic identity

On the feast day of St. Matthew, Justin McClain wrote an interesting piece in The National Catholic Register about how Catholic school teachers are like modern-day St. Matthews who “bring the Lord to their students and expand on who he is and who we are.”

He calls St. Matthew a “rather curious figure” in that he was a tax collector, an evangelist, and ultimately a martyr. His gift, however, writes McClain, was “the gift of making connections.”

Matthew’s gospel clearly lays out how Jesus is “the new Moses.” He also spells out Jesus’ genealogy and shows why Christ fulfills Old Testament prophecies in his recounting of the Holy Family’s flight to Egypt.

McClain argues that Catholic school teachers are given this same responsibility to “make evangelization-laden connections” for their students, just as Matthew did.

LMU event promotes gender ideology

Loyola Marymount University has scheduled a public reading of a book promoting gender ideology as part of its Banned Books Week celebration, according to the Jesuit university’s website.

The William H. Hannon Library will host the event and celebrate the book despite its “depictions of a transgender child, explicit sex education, language and offensive viewpoints.”

Librarians will offer free giveaways, cookies and T-shirts to celebrate the event as well as offering a “stack of frequently challenged or banned books for you to browse.”

One can only imagine what they will produce from LMU’s library shelves!

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