Bigot of the Week Award: November 9, University of San Diego

9 Nov

In a horrific abuse of power, the Catholic run University of San Diego revoked a scholar’s fellowship. Tina Beattie, a British scholar visiting USD’s Frances G. Harpst School for Catholic Thought and Culture on a research fellowship, annoyed the administration by expressing an opinion. She joined in a letter to the Times of London supporting marriage equality. It included the declaration that it is

perfectly proper for Catholics, using fully informed consciences, to support the legal extension of civil marriage to same-sex couples.

In a blow against academic freedom that ironically displayed respect for neither thought nor culture, USD President Mary Lyons unilaterally revoked the fellowship and sent Beattie packing. The thrust of her argument?

In light of the contradiction between the mission of the Center and your own public stances as a Catholic theologian, I regretfully rescind the invitation that has been extended to you.

Lyons — who appears to have reacted to an aggressive blogging campaign against the scholar — did not discuss the matter with Beattie beforehand, nor did she even bother to consult Gerard Mannion, director of the Harpst Center. Beattie requested a reconsideration but was rebuffed, prompting her to issue a resounding condemnation of the attack against her.

The cancellation of my visit is not the most important issue in all this. The real issues are academic freedom, the vocation of lay theologians in relation to the official magisterium, and the power of a hostile minority of bloggers (some of whom are ordained deacons and priests) to command the attention and support of the [Catholic doctrine overseer Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith]. The latter is the most sinister development of all, and it is a cause for scandal which brings the Church into disrepute.

Faculty and students have arranged protests in support of Beattie, but the damage is done. So much for Christian charity. Who Would Jesus Hate?

8 Responses to “Bigot of the Week Award: November 9, University of San Diego”

  1. Chris November 9, 2012 at 7:00 am #

    They have been digging themselves out of power and respect for years. In many areas they no longer even have community support. One more goes by the wayside as another religion takes it’s place.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 9, 2012 at 7:05 am #

      You are absolutely right. They have been alienating more and more populations for the past two decades and relying on hate and fear–thankfully, this tactic has not worked for this election. I would like to see a Progressive Party and a Socialist Party arise.

  2. Jay November 9, 2012 at 5:00 pm #

    And it is worth noting that the letter that Beattie signed specified CIVIL marriage.

    The Roman Catholic Church makes a big deal about marriage within their church being a sacrament. Thus all the nonsense about annulling long-term marriages, which most divorced Catholics don’t bother with or qualify for, and thus have to choose a purely CIVIL second marriage after a divorce.

    Beattie wasn’t endorsing anything that has to do with RCC sacraments. Civil marriage is a legal matter, and does not in any way step on the theological toes of the Roman Catholic hierarchy’s power to control the dispensation of the sacraments of their church.

    And of course, I agree the implication regarding academic freedom is deeply disturbing. Many Catholic universities in the US have a noble tradition of perfectly respectable scholarship and education (Georgetown and Notre Dame, for example, are justly perceived as elite universities)–this sort of clampdown on academic freedom sends exactly the wrong message to the students and faculty of all Catholic colleges and universities.

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 9, 2012 at 5:33 pm #


      Your comment here adds such richness and a lovely layer to my post. Thank you for expanding on Beattie’s stance and on academic freedom. Your thoughtful comments are what help to make anyone’s blog engaging and rich.

      Of course, I had to have a little chuckle around Catholic Marriage and the issue of annulment. My mom has three children and yet, (for a sum of money) was able to have her Catholic marriage annulled.

      • Jay November 10, 2012 at 9:19 am #

        Your response is very generous, Michael: thank you.

        And I must admit to a slightly self-conscious giggle: I didn’t realize my off-hand comment about nonsensical annulments pertained so directly to you. I guess that makes you an official, Church-sanctioned bastard? I’m rather envious–not that you’re a child of divorced (ahem–annulled) parents (I’m grateful for my parents long and relatively happy marriage), but the notion of “hocus-pocus, abracadabra, you and your siblings are now illegitimate, and oh yeah, your Mom can have another Church wedding” is bizarrely delightful to me.

        You lucky bastard.

      • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 10, 2012 at 9:25 am #

        I’m glad we are both able to have a good laugh at what seems to me a religion of money and caprice. The whole annulment thing is just one of the many many many many reasons why I just cannot subscribe to any organized religion.

  3. Anon November 11, 2012 at 2:07 pm #

    Have u seen this…maybe this is why USD disinvited Beattie…

    • Michael Hulshof-Schmidt November 11, 2012 at 4:13 pm #

      If all of this information was available, then why invite Beattie? How does your link address academic freedom and homophobia?

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