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?