Two leading theologians at Boston College have written a stinging letter objecting to the college’s decision to invite Secretary of State Condoleezza Rice to speak at graduation and to give her an honorary degree.
Nearly 100 faculty members have signed the letter, according to the theology department, which declined to release their names.
The letter, which will be delivered to the president and board of trustees, has set off a fiery debate.
Kenneth Himes, chairman of the department of theology, and the Rev. David Hollenbach, who holds the Margaret O’Brien Flatley chair in the department, titled their letter ”Condoleezza Rice Does Not Deserve a Boston College Honorary Degree," and sent it to the entire faculty inviting members to sign on. The writers said they were distressed with the university’s decision to invite Rice to commencement May 22. Her selection was announced Monday.
”On the levels of both moral principle and practical moral judgment, Secretary Rice’s approach to international affairs is in fundamental conflict with Boston College’s commitment to the values of the Catholic and Jesuit traditions and is inconsistent with the humanistic values that inspire the university’s work," the letter said. It pointed out Pope John Paul II’s opposition to the war in Iraq.
”I have no objection to her coming here to speak — I am in favor of free speech — but I don’t believe we should be honoring her with an honorary degree," Hollenbach said.
I think they are right, but for the wrong reasons. There are a lot of things I like about Condi Rice, but definitely not who pro-abortion position. She describes herself as "mildly pro-choice" which means she goes along with the ban of federal funding of abortion, but that is about it. As the Bishops document Catholics in Political Life said "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." Now if only the staff of BC (which by their theology most of the time must mean Before Christ) would be consistent since they have no problems with giving honors to others who are solidly pro-abortion or promote some other aspect of the culture of death.
Kind of spooky, but that’s exactly what I was thinking as I read the letter. Once again, it’s the selective criteria of what it means to be in accord with the “values of the Catholic” tradition. Somehow being pro-war is a greater affront to that tradition than being pro-baby murder.
I bet Peter Kreeft (in Philosophy, not Theology at BC) signed it.
At what point do we just ignore these colleges and pretend they don’t exist?
“the values of the Catholic and Jesuit traditions…”
At least they’re admitting that those are not the same thing these days.
It’s amazing at how selective some Catholic Univerities are when it comes to applying the values of their Catholic and Jesuit Traditions. Why start with Condi now?
I live just north of Boston, Now I know where the sudden stench in the air is coming from. It is the stench of BC hypocrisy pungently drifting this way from that increasingly anti-Catholic campus.
Please view my link. There is a petition about abortion as well.
some generous people have emailed me the text of the student/alumni and faculty letters to BC’s President and Board (if anyone is ineterested just click on my name).
We have been graced with so many faithfilled Catholics that could have been chosen for this very special occasion.
I’ll just keep praying.
Everyone else seems to be doing a pretty good job at pointing out the sickening nuttiness and absurdity here at BC, and, being confronted with nonsense like this every week, I’m not going to disagree with most of what has been said. I am, of course, upset that the objection to Rice’s pro-death (the proper phrase for “pro-choice) opinions was so weak. Nonetheless, I think someone ought to defend the school. Here goes nothing.
There are plenty of sane faculty members at BC, they just don’t waste their time making idiotic public statements or pushing bizarre pseudo-Catholic agendas, so they don’t get in the news. Just last week, there was a well-attended lecture for young students on the subject of marriage, which affirmed Church teaching and morally sound principles. Quite simply, the university’s sensible, orthodox actions are not newsworthy.
This, I think, is why we come down so hard on the Jesuits. The Society of Jesus is full of dissenters, progressives, and plain old lunatics. In case we missed it, however, the whole Church is full of the same. The Jesuits take flak for it the most because they are in the most visibly public positions. When a parish priest has some strange theological notions, hardly anyone knows or cares, but if a tenured professor at a major Jesuit university holds the same notions, it becomes “news”.
Let us also remember that the generation in charge of the school right now is the generation that was forged in Vatican II and the ludicrous aftermath. This is simply an effect of demographics. Many of the most orthodox faculty here tend to be younger. The student body is certainly more conservative than stories about the school would suggest- stack of the Boston College Observer, the conservative student newspaper, are depleted quickly, while The Patriot, a progressive student paper, sits on the shelf almost untouched until the next edition is printed. The progressive generation of priests and professors just happens to be in charge right now, an effect to which the Church as a whole is also subject.
Good points Sean, we’ll just have to grit our teeth and ride it out until the last of the Spirit of Vatican II® crowd retire, and just hope they didn’t do much lasting damage to the next generation.
So…you’re upset because two theologians took a stand on Catholic principles, just not YOUR Catholic principles? Think about that.
By the way–promoting “preventative warfare” and abortion are both violence against the image of God in humanity. They are connected. No surprise Condi Rice holds both–she’s consistent and smart. And wrong.
The problem is not that they have taken a stand against Condi Rice- they should, mostly because of her pro-choice opinions, but also because of her involvement with the war. The problem is that they did NOT take a stand against other speakers in the past that ALSO did not deserve honors and awards. If this is a start of a new, stricter policy against public figures whose opinions fly in the face of Catholic teachings, then that’s great. If not, however, then this is probably just a ruse, using the idea of “Catholic and Jesuit Values” as a smokescreen for personal political beliefs. Many on campus, even those who stridently oppose Condi Rice, feel that this is inconsistent with the leniency shown other speakers whose opinions run contrary to Catholic teachings. If the concern of the theology department is genuinely one of “Catholic and Jesuit Values”, we should expect to see more letters like this in the future. But if, as seems to be the case, “Catholic and Jesuit Values” are just a smokescreen for personal political biases, then letters like this will be few and far between. The last time anything like this happened was about 10 years ago, when some people tried to give an award to Margaret Thatcher, and some of the Irish faculty protested. In the last 10 years, there have been plenty of honors given to those who do not represent “Catholic and Jesuit Ideals”. If they want to start cracking down, great, but unfortunately, I don’t think that is what’s going on here.
The war in Iraq is another major reason many BC alumni are against Condi Rice receiving an honorary degree from BC. She helped lie about WMD’s, and now over 2000 US troops and 50,000 Iraqi civilians are lifeless. The turmoil in Iraq will make people suffer there for decades and will create contempt for the US and breed more terrorists (interestingly, none of the 9/11 terrorists were from Iraq). And make no mistake when they grow up learning to hate the US they will hate Christians as well. I cannot understand how such a person could be honored … What on earth does BC stand for ??