God And Girl At Catholic College: Readers Respond

My last article,

Girl and God at Catholic College
, brought in
tons of email responses, partly because of a link from

. (Thanks, Lew!) Apparently, the
sell-out of my

Catholic university
to the

gets on a lot of people`s nerves.

I`d be lying if I said that all the
email I received was supportive (as
you will see
). But the huge majority of it was.
There are a

lot of people
who have experienced frustrations
similar to mine when dealing with "Catholic"
institutions. Between requests that I disclose my
school`s name, guesses about my location and a few
doubting accusations, there were a lot of interesting
stories about religious institutions and what one reader
called "offendophobia" (the fear and dread of—shudder—offending

According to several readers (some
of whom requested anonymity), Catholic universities
aren`t the only disappointment. One reader wrote:
"I am over fifty,
and a

, rather than a Catholic, but I assure you
that the

same degeneracy
has afflicted Protestant campuses.
Another went on to say, "…as a Catholic
myself I couldn`t agree more.  Not only is it that way
in universities…it`s

that way

elementary and high schools
" [Brian


A third reader described the
"crisis of faith in the Catholic educational
" as "terminal." A Catholic high
school graduate in 1990, he says things have since gone
rapidly downhill:

among the student body,

drug use
so rampant on campus that the school is
thinking of instituting mandatory testing of all
students, and

more befitting a

than a learning environment.”

Not only is the situation in these
places rotten, but also, for many, fighting it seems
like a hopeless waste of time. I can`t count the number
of times I`ve unsuccessfully attempted to rouse a group
of friends to argue with some

university policy or requirement
—they`re happy to
sit in my now-off-campus apartment and wring their
hands, but very few actually try to take any real

There are two important reasons for

a) no one wants to be a martyr.

Public denunciation,
bad grades or the loss of a

campus job
are all very real possibilities;

b) it`s unlikely that any bad will
be prevented or that any good will be initiated by our

As one reader wrote:

“I graduated

College ten years ago. I was very active in
the College Republicans and helped found a Christian

The Observer.

We raised money and we highlighted the hypocrisy of our
`Catholic` college. I sat in every


gay and lesbian
, multicultural meeting there was. We

Ted Kennedy
and stood up to

union campaign cronies.

argued against my liberal professors
and got

bad grades
in return.

“In the end I look back at the whole
experience, I know despite a lot of hard work, I did not
change one mind.”
[Chris Duane,


Peter Brimelow
often reminds me that "no one

outside of the universities
knows what`s going on
But I have reason to believe that is slowly changing.
Many of my responses come from Catholic and non-Catholic
parents and grandparents of high-school and college age
students who are looking for better options. Some tell
me they get my article through home-school email lists
or forwarded on from fellow parishioners. Some are even
concerned clergy.

One reader put well what many
readers tell me:

“I am a student at a small Franciscan
College in our area.  We have another Catholic
university here which is

and is liberal, like the one you
attended.  They host guest speakers in that are very
anti-Catholic.  The diocese here condemns my priest for
not going with the modern changes, and yet they let any
old liberal Sr. Mary Make Believe come in and destroy
the faith.”
[Scott LaLonde,


And this father writes a short note
not unlike many, many others I`ve received—all
mentioning different schools (
Fordham, Notre Dame, Loyola Marymount, etc):

“Good article Athena. Your school
sounds just like my daughter`s school at Seattle
University. It`s a sad time for

Catholic education.


Even people who don`t seem to have
any direct connection to the modern erosion of Catholic
education are nonetheless touched by it. As a reader
from Fort Wayne, Indiana writes:

“I once had a co-worker from the

University of Dayton.
Although the name may sound
secular, it`s in fact a Jesuit university in Dayton,
Ohio. This gent was a classic

born-again Christian type
, so I asked him how he got
along as a Protestant attending a Jesuit school.  When
he heard the word `Jesuit`, he responded, `You`re crazy,
Dayton isn`t a Jewish college.`  It was apparent that he
had never even heard the word Jesuit. I said, `You know,
the Jesuit Catholic order …`

“The baffled look on his face made it obvious to me that he had no idea
that the University of Dayton was in any way associated
with a church.”

My exposing the stories from my
school has encouraged people to share the stories they
have from theirs—and many eagerly take the bait, giving
their own schools some well-earned criticism.

One reader shared numerous examples
of perfidy in Australian Catholic University (ACU—a.k.a.
he quips, Allegedly Catholic University):

“There, a nun lecturing theology said
`It`s just not true that God forgives us because of

Christ`s sacrifice.`

“Someone said `I`m studying
scripture,` and when my friend asked what he was
learning, the man replied `I`m learning that we can`t
trust it.`

“ACU teaches that the

priesthood and the episcopacy
are completely
separate things (contra

ancient church teaching wherein
the episcopacy is
the fullness of the priesthood), and thus that the
Pope`s teaching on the impossibility of female priests
doesn`t apply to bishops.

“There was no regular mass or

on campus, even major events were
celebrated with a `liturgy of the word` not a mass.
There were priests available, so I suspect this was to


“I also spent time at

United Faculty of Theology in Melbourne,

Jesuit seminarians
are trained. On the first day
there I heard from the head of the New Testament Studies
department `Now, in the past, Christians used to think
the Bible was the Word of God.`

“The head of the moral theology
department said `As Christians, we all understand that
we can`t say that anything someone else does is wrong.`
(I`m not making this up, I swear)

“From a member of the Philosophy
department: `When we do philosophy, we need to remember
that there are no true and false answers.`

“My tutor for New Testament studies
got her PhD in `eco-feminist biblical criticism.` Once

not making this up.

“And finally, from the head of the
religious education department: `I don`t think education
should have anything to do with passing on the faith.`”

Another reader, a 1971 graduate now
living in New Jersey, shared the following anecdote:

“I completed graduate studies at

Villanova University
(an Augustinian school outside
of Philadelphia) many years ago and still receive their
alumni bulletin.  If one didn`t know that Villanova was
a Catholic school, one would be hard pressed to realize
it from the bulletin. The final straw came some two
years ago when a

distraught professor
murdered her Downs syndrome
child and

then committed suicide
, a very tragic series of
events.  Other faculty proposed a memorial in the
library.  After a

large outcry
, the proposal was shelved.  Of course,
the article in the bulletin made no mention of murder
and suicide as mortal sins.” 
[Jason Cebalo,


But there are always rays of hope.
Yes, there are some good Catholic colleges. When asked,
I usually recommend University of Dallas,

Christendom Collge
, Thomas Aquinas and

Ave Maria
. The Australian reader quoted above went
on to praise

Campion College
in New South Wales, where he now
attends school, saying they are true and devout,
traditional Catholics.

It`s finding the real state of
faith on campus that is so difficult—one shouldn`t trust
the brochures or admissions counselors. Instead, one
should go directly to the theology department and start
asking hard questions.

But don`t expect to get answers you
want to hear. This reader didn`t:

“I recently had the opportunity to
meet with one of the top officials at one of the most
well-known Catholic universities in the USA. I took the
opportunity to ask about how they dealt with maintaining
their Catholic identity in the face of growing

“My heart sank when I received the
reply. Basically I was told that serious Catholic
criticism is discounted as fanaticism from people with
too much time on their hands. So sad, especially from
someone in charge of one of the most prestigious
universities in the world.”
(D`Arcy Drachenberg,


But after all this
condemnation, is this change in Catholic education
really so bad? I mean, after all, my school is
supposedly teaching me to respect the people around me,
opening my eyes to different viewpoint and teaching me
not to judge—isn`t it?

The last reader I feature
in this article challenges my entire take on university
education (ignoring that fact that I`m talking about

specifically Catholic institutions
—schools that are
promising a faith-based education.)

Kris` note exemplifies
just exactly the kind of open-minded, tolerant and
non-offensive tone that made liberal (not
Catholic) education so worthy of my many thousands of


purpose of a liberal arts education is to

take closed minds
and open them as much as possible.
It sounds like they at least tried to do that in your

Aunt who`s been a nun for 51 years now, teaches that if
men could become pregnant,

would be a sacrament.

the way, I remember from high school that Catholic girls
were the biggest

, is that still true?

Kris Martinsen,  Berkeley.” (
email her at


Athena Kerry (email
recently graduated from a Catholic university somewhere in