Monday, January 23, 2006

The Vast Jesuit Conspiracy, Fuzzy Math, and a Troubling Pope: Fr. Neuhaus Attacks the Jesuits and Challenges the Pope

Readers of my blog know that few things engender my ire so much as attacks on my Jesuit family, especially as often they are uninformed, unfair and even untrue. The Society of Jesus portrayed in such attacks is not the Society of Jesus I know, and I think I know my brother Jesuits far better than many of these people claim. Richard Neuhaus uses his latest article as an excuse to mount just such an attack. I feel compelled to respond.

Fr. Neuhaus at First Things proves in his latest article that the vast Jesuit conspiracy theory is alive and well. He also shows the “fuzzy math” typical of such articles. 5 living Jesuits + 1 deceased Jesuit + an “aloof” Father General = the entirety of the 19,000+ Society of Jesus. He also demonstrates the tired double standard that “liberals” are dissenters if they criticize the Pope, but “conservatives” like himself are free to criticize the Pope when the Pope doesn’t agree with them or do what they want. Perhaps there’s not here the “smell of mendacity” which he speaks of in his article, but one may just detect an odor of duplicity.

He calls the words of Jesuit Provincial Father Robert Scullin “defiant,” but they strike me as rather complicit with the intentions of the recent instruction:

“We continue to invite all qualified young men of either orientation who desire to lead a celibate chaste religious life to consider joining us on our mission.”

The key word here is “qualified.” The instruction, as I and many others have come to understand it, does not exclude men merely on the basis of orientation. Thus those charged with approving such men would have to determine whether that person was qualified according to the standards set by the instruction. Nowhere does Fr. Scullin say that the instruction is to be ignored.

I also have to say it’s a cheap shot when Neuhaus calls it “surprising” that transsexuals are not included in Scullin’s statement.

“Jesuits do seem to be in the vanguard of the attack” he says.

I have to question how he gets this impression, unless silence on a topic is now considered being in the vanguard of an attack. With the exception of Father Tom O’Brien, whom he mentions (and who did so without permission, it seems), I can only think of one or two Jesuits that have said anything publicly on the matter. Furthermore, he tries to suggest that O’Brien’s provincial’s rebuke of him for doing so points to something sinister:

“It is a way of proceeding that candidly says (at least within the family) that the instruction will be ignored, while asking Jesuits to be publicly discreet about their repudiation of the Church’s teaching on sexuality.”

Again, Neuhaus is promoting the vast Jesuit conspiracy theory. All Jesuits now, it seems, are dedicated to the “repudiation of the Church’s teaching on sexuality.” (I hate it that my superiors keep forgetting to send me the memos about our secret mission to undermine the Church). Fr. Neuhaus also knows, I presume, that it is common practice in religious communities for one to seek permission from one’s superior before making statements or publishing articles or books on potentially controversial topics. It’s not something devious, it’s the tradition of the Church.

I’d also question, in part, his view of vocational discernment. He says:

“Presumably, the individual discerns whether he—or, for that matter, she—is called to the priesthood, and the role of the Church is limited to ratifying that discernment. Needless to say, this is not the way the Catholic Church understands the vocation to the priesthood.”

Besides obfuscating things by throwing in “she,” I wonder if Fr. Neuhaus has been to an ordination liturgy lately. While there is certainly more involved in the process than merely what he describes above, the way in which the ordination liturgy proceeds is much like it. The superiors of the man to be ordained, who have discerned with him throughout the time of his formation, judge him worthy of ordination, and the Church affirms that judgment by means of ordination. Again, the process is more complicated than that and, clearly, doesn’t involve women, but I’m puzzled by the confidence of his statement that “this is not the way that the Catholic Church understands the vocation to the priesthood.”

As for his criticisms of Father James Keenan, it would seem to me that since Father Keenan is a moral theologian, he is asking questions within his area of expertise, as is allowed by canon law. If the Vatican finds his questions problematic, I’m sure they will let him know, as they have several other moral theologians, among them Jesuits.

Father Neuhaus is also exceedingly kind in allowing us Jesuits a little “cachet”:

“Then, too, and despite the Jesuits’ diminishing numbers, prestige, and influence, there are still those who think the word ‘Jesuit’ carries a certain intellectual cachet.”

Given all this time I’m spending studying, I bloody well hope it does!
And then there’s the matter of the Pope, who isn’t quite measuring up:

“Among those who greatly admired Cardinal Ratzinger and were elated by his election as pope, there is a palpable uneasiness.”

Neuhaus says that Benedict’s choice of his successor at CDF, and his successor’s successor in San Francisco are “troubling.” Neuhaus hopes gentle Benedict will put aside his fear and stand up like a man against those wily Jesuits who, by the end of Neuhaus’ article, are now threatening schism (again, where’s that memo I didn’t get?) and are “rejectionists”:

“And so it is that we are faced with what may be a defining test of the pontificate of Benedict XVI. As all who know him can attest, he is in personal relations a gentle man and averse to unpleasantness. He cannot relish the prospect of a direct confrontation with major institutions such as the Society of Jesus. Early on in his pontificate, John Paul II made an effort to bring the Jesuits into closer alignment with church teaching and authority, and ended up with little to show for it. As is his custom, the father general of the society, Peter-Hans Kolvenbach, remains publicly aloof.

With this pope, as with all popes, there is the fear of schism. That was the great fear in 1968. Public confrontation would undoubtedly spark a media storm of historic proportions, but, after the dust settled, where would the rejectionists go? Lefebvrism of the left, whether in this country or elsewhere, cannot hold much appeal.”

Well, at least I can agree with that last sentence! As for that intervention in the governance of the Jesuits by John Paul II that Neuhaus mentions, what it proved, and why it resulted in the restoration of the Jesuits’ governance so quickly, was precisely that the Jesuits, though displeased by John Paul’s action, were not poised for schism.

Father Neuhaus and others need to wake up to the fact that the Society of Jesus is not engaged in some vast conspiracy to undermine the Church. It’s a provocative tale to tell, but it’s not the truth. And, also, even if all his charges were valid, 5 men can never stand as representative of 19,000. The Society of Jesus as Father Neuhaus paints it is nothing more than a caricature. In charity, I hope it is simply because he is uninformed. But I can’t help but wonder if he’s simply willing to ignore the truth to promote his agenda, which seems to be laying down a challenge to the Pope to show how “manly” he can be by beating up who Neuhaus paints as the largest bully in the Church's schoolyard—those darn Jesuits.

77 Comments:

Blogger Todd said...

Mark,

I find it hard to take folks like Neuhaus seriously. He clearly has great intellectual potential, but without an openness of thinking, he and others like him are reduced to a public retelling of their own mental gymnastics.

Where he fails is that he doesn't comprehend an authentic adversarial position. He's fallen into the trap of many conspiracy theorists: when you've battled straw men in your mind for so long, it's a short leap to swordplay with phantoms.

9:55 AM  
Blogger mamagiglio said...

Dan Brown, watch out! here comes Fr. Neuhaus!

He paints with a rather wide brush doesn't he?

It's interesting to see all the people who painted B16 as the panzerkardinal who would finally clear out all of the dissenters. From what I've read, that wasn't what he was like in the CDF at all. He seems like a gentle man, not the rotweiller he was painted to be.

We just need to trust that God sent us the pope we needed for right now.

And people just need to relax about "the document."

Mark, take comfort in the fact that people still jump up and down on the Society of Jesus. It means you guys are doing God's work. If your order were obsolete, no one would care. I hope that didn't sound as snotty as i think it did.

2:07 PM  
Anonymous john sawyer said...

Mark

You should write a response to Neuhaus' article. Why did he have a Jesuit (dulles) and his simultaneous unloving, un Christlike article in the same issue?

Cardinal Dulles should refuse to ever publish in their journal again.

john sawyer

2:38 PM  
Blogger Mark Mossa, SJ said...

Amy,

Not sure what you mean by snotty, you seem to be making good sense. That's one of the strange things about the article: If our prestige and influence is diminishing like he says, why is he getting so worked up?

Mark

4:42 PM  
Blogger patrick said...

This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

12:11 AM  
Blogger patrick said...

I am not the Jesuit Order's number one fan, but that article was an outrageous and mendacious smear against 19,000 people. It is something that I would have expected Diogenes (Fr. Mankowski?) to write. I am disappointed, but not surprised, that Neuhaus would stoop to Diogenes' level of bile. Neuhaus has had a long, distinguished, and controversial career for the past 40 years, but it's high time for him to be retired from the public square.

12:13 AM  
Anonymous John L said...

Mark, your response to Fr. Neuhaus's article is not cogent. You misconstrue Fr. Neuhaus's criticism of Fr. Thomas Reese S.J. The criticism is given in this passage; 'The instruction makes the point that nobody has a right to be ordained to the priesthood and that the final decision rests with the Church which is responsible for her own ministry. To which Fr. Reese responds, “If someone is called to the priesthood by God but denied it by church officials, then it is not a violation of a human right; it is a violation of a divine right—the right of God to call whomever he chooses to the priesthood.” Presumably, the individual discerns whether he—or, for that matter, she—is called to the priesthood, and the role of the Church is limited to ratifying that discernment. Needless to say, this is not the way the Catholic Church understands the vocation to priesthood.' The sentence 'Presumably, the individual discerns whether he—or, for that matter, she—is called to the priesthood, and the role of the Church is limited to ratifying that discernment' expresses the premise behind Fr. Reese's criticism of the instruction; Fr. Neuhaus is rejecting this premise here, rather than endorsing it.
Fr. Neuhaus criticizes Fr. James Keenan for asserting, contrary to the teaching of the Church, that homogenital acts can be good. To this you reply 'As for his criticisms of Father James Keenan, it would seem to me that since Father Keenan is a moral theologian, he is asking questions within his area of expertise, as is allowed by canon law.' Fr. Keenan is not 'asking questions' here, but making a positive assertion. This assertion is contrary to the unanimous witness of Scripture and tradition, and to the constant and emphatic teaching of the Church. Such rejection of Catholic teaching is not part of the task of a Catholic moral theologian, but is instead incompatible with it, and is in no way guaranteed by canon law. Fr. Neuhaus claims that Keenan's attitude to homosexual activity is held by most Jesuits and is promoted by them, to which you say '5 men can never stand as representative of 19,000'. Of course one could not infer the attitude of the whole Society from the positions of five Jesuits. But Fr. Neuhaus does not make this inference. Instead, he is giving these five as instances of an attitude among Jesuits that he takes to be obvious. I think he might be too extreme in characterising the whole society in this way, as there may be Jesuit provinces where this attitude to homosexuality is not held (or there may not be; I don't know). But when it comes to American Jesuits he is accurate. Do you deny this? Do you not accept that i) the majority of members of the Society of Jesus in America take the view that homosexual acts (sc. sodomy or fellatio involving only men) need not be sinful, ii) this acceptance reflects the policy choices of the leadership of the American Jesuits, iii) as a consequence, homosexual relationships involving these acts are tolerated among American Jesuits, iv) American Jesuits, with some exceptions, promote the moral acceptability of such acts and of relationships involving them, and v) this promotion is the policy of the leadership of the American Jesuits? These five charges would seem to be the substance of Fr, Neuhaus's claims. Do you, with your experience of the Society, deny any or all of them? Or do you just say that although they are true, they do not constitute acting against the Church?

1:04 AM  
Blogger Jeff said...

Well, John J. makes the case against you as well as anyone, Fr. Mark. There are good Jesuits, of course, and even good provinces. But the idea that it's a "slander" of some kind to point out that the Jesuit order is a hotbed of dissent and unfaithfulness is ridiculous and especially painful in light of the famous Fourth Vow.

It's a noble but quixotic attempt to defend an order with a noble history and some wonderful people that remain in it and even join. There are just too many Jesuits on record (such as the ones you gloss over) and too many scandals over time for the notion that everything is sweetness and light to fly. The Jesuits, despite that Ignatian charism which is so necessary to us, are a deeply afflicted group. The fact that there are exceptions and those who strive against the trend does not refute the rule.

Fr. Mankowski, mentioned in the comments, is a Jesuit. His remarks on the state of the order today are far closer to Fr. Neuhaus than to you, Fr. Mossa. And far closer to the sad reality.

2:08 AM  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Your post makes sense, but it seems to me that you are making Fr. Neuhaus a straw man here. Neuhaus' article was silly (although I like much of his other work), and you are right to refute it. But it seems that you are refuting it as if it's a symbol of all those who cry "Jesuits are liberal dissenters". This is poor rhetoric, because it leaves me uncertain whether you can actually refute a reasonably phrased accusation that the Jesuits are quite liberal.

Let me clarify what I mean. I myself greatly admire several modern Jesuits, including Robert Spitzer and Avery Dulles. Several modern Jesuits (including Keenan) are too "liberal" for me; a very few (including Fessio and Shaughnessy) are too "conservative" for me. And of course, the vast majority of your 19,000 people are unknown to me.

But here's a key fact: I have encountered far more Jesuits through their writings than I have in person. I agree that it's not fair to stretch 5 to represent 19,000. But would it be fair to stretch all the American Jesuits who are widely published to all American Jesuits?

I haven't the space or the ability to list the statistics. But surely you must be familiar with them: a huge fraction of the Jesuit colleges in the USA sponsor the "Vagina Monologues", a huge fraction of public statements by Jesuits regarding homosexuality stress the (very true) fact that discrimination and hate are evil while not mentioning whether they agree with the church's teaching regarding homosexual activity; etc.

Is this just the fringe? Am I judging the whole by a few? Maybe. But I don't expect Fessio to be praised by the Jesuit media when he passes away. Yet the English Jesuit who shouted in a restaurant that he hoped the Pope would die received kudos from the Jesuit press.

My question then: Is it fair to judge the whole by the public voices?

2:16 AM  
Blogger Mark Mossa, SJ said...

Thanks to all for your comments.

John L.,

I'm afraid your comments aren't so cogent either. They also go much further afield than the substance of my comments. As for your five points, I have no idea how you could come to such conclusions. I would never make assertions one way or another on these topics, because I don't know how most Jesuits feel on those particular issues because, frankly, they are rarely the topic of conversation. And, again, they do not speak to my comments anyway.

Jeff,

I fear you are make exactly the kind of presumptions I'm criticizing. So, there's not much more that I can say. I didn't say we were perfect, but I feel I can confidently say that the majority of Jesuits are not represented accurately by such comments. As for Father Mankowski, I wonder why he would remain a Jesuit if he feels that way (though I'm not familiar enough with his criticisms to know if you are representing him fairly).

Lawrence,

If I'm making Father Neuhaus a straw man, as you suggest, then I believe you'd have to assert that Fr. Neuhaus has done the same with the Jesuits. And I would refute a reasonably phrased accusation that the Jesuits are quite "liberal," depending, of course, on what you mean by liberal.

Since most American Jesuits are not widely published, I think it's a mistake to take those who are to be representative of the group, it doesn't seem logical.

As for the Vagina Monologues issue, that too, I believe, is another case of a "straw man" (or perhaps straw "woman" in this case) invented by the Cardinal Newman Society. If we were to hold all campus productions to the standard of Catholic teaching, I imagine there would be little we could show. Start protesting the staging of Shakespeare plays on Catholic campuses if you want to be consistent on that score!

And the English Jesuit you refer to, while he might receive praise from a few Jesuits, would not be praised by most Jesuits I know. Indeed, Jesuits have been known to be dismissed for such actions.

All your comments just go to show that a prejudice exists that won't be swayed by evidence to the contrary.

For a more measured assessment of the state of the Society of Jesus today, I recommend reading Cardinal Dulles' review, about 4 years ago, of "Passionate Uncertainty," which appeared in First Things.

But again, thanks for your comments.

3:06 AM  
Anonymous philosoph0123 said...

Fr. Mossa: Are you really saying that there is no moral difference between plays which portray the fallen human condition, and even find nobility in fallen humans (such as in the plays of Shakespeare), and those which celebrate not merely the fallen human being, but celebrate the fallenness itself? The Vagina Monologues does not merely speak about the existence of sexuality and 'questionable exercises' thereof, but includes material that celebrates the 'liberation' of sexuality from the natural law.

Also, if it is the case that Fr. Kennan has spoken that homogenital acts can be morally acceptable, would you not deny that this particular Jesuit is teaching falsehood? And even if the entire Order cannot be 'tarred' with the example of a few dissidents, would you not say that a crucial responsibility of any religious order would be to ensure that its members either (1) adhere to the truths of the Catholic faith (including matters of morals), or (2) make certain that the faithful were not confused by officially, openly condemning this teaching? If so, then has your Order been doing wrong through omission of this?

This is part of the accusation at the heart of Fr. Neuhaus' criticism (and that of others). It is not so much that large numbers of Jesuits are acting against to undermine the teachings of the Church; it is that when Jesuits do so, there is an almost deafening silence from most other Jesuits (including the leadership) about this.

I am a student at a major Jesuit university, and my wife is a student here as well. And much of the teaching here, even in theology, does not conform to the teaching of the Church. Does this constitute faithfulness on the part of the Jesuits?

7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Thank you for your your response to Fr. Neuhaus. My uncle is a Jesuit from Pittsburgh who was ordained in India and has spent his adult life there. Fr. Neuhaus' comments made me hurt for him.

7:36 AM  
Anonymous DavidAWW said...

Perhaps Cardinal Dulles can update, and resend this letter to the editor from 1997:

"Lay Off the Jesuits
I am delighted to learn from the Editor-in-Chief (While We're At it, October 1996) that he can count some Jesuits among his best friends. If this is to continue to be the case, he would do well to lay off the irrational attacks on the Society of Jesus that appear from time to time in his column. On hearing his proposal of a "Jesuit-Catholic dialogue," some readers might (with the same acidic humor) wish to propose a dialogue between Catholics and diocesan clergy or with other religious orders.
Granted that a few Jesuits have been in difficulty with ecclesiastical authorities, the same can be said of diocesan clergy, Dominicans, Franciscans and lay persons. After all, authors such as Hans Kόng and August Hasler, Charles Curran and Richard McBrien, Charles Davis and Daniel McGuire, are not and never were Jesuits. Nor, for that matter, are Edward Schillebeeckx and Jacques Pohier, Matthew Fox and Herbert McCabe, Leonardo Boff and Jacques Gaillot.
Broadsides against whole orders in the Church, however whimsically intended, can do great harm. They are also unjust to the vast majority of Jesuits (or diocesan priests, Dominicans, or Franciscans) who labor faithfully, and often against great odds, in missions, universities, high schools, retreat houses, and parishes all over the world.
As for the current developments at Fordham Law School, notice should be taken of recent gains, such as the hiring of Gene Harper to teach a course on natural law. Jesuits and others who are working quietly to strengthen this outstanding law school through the resources offered by Catholic and Jesuit tradition deserve encouragement, not the supercilious abuse that Father Neuhaus heaps upon them. As Fr. Neuhaus says elsewhere in the October issue of FIRST THINGS, it is sectarian, not Catholic, to excommunicate those who stand to the right or the left of us within the Church.
Avery Dulles, S.J.
Fordham University
Bronx, NY "

Fr. Neuhaus briefly responded:

"All whimsy aside, I am chastened by the reproof of one of my best friends and apologize for any injury done the many faithful members of the Society of Jesus."

http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft9701/correspondence.html

8:52 AM  
Blogger Ray from MN said...

Father Mossa:

I find it extremely interesting that I am only the second person to respond on this thread who has referred to you by the title "Father."

That kinda indicates to me that I probably wouldn't recognize you on the street as you don't often wear the Roman collar.

I heard a rumor recently that one of your brethren in the Twin Cities, also rarely seen in uniform, at age 60 or so, decided to return to civilian life to get married. So much for oaths.

I'm not a theologian. Just a Catholic trying to save my soul.

Certainly 19,000 men can't be all bad. But interestingly, census figures I have seen for the order show that the number (I show 14,000 priests) is down 20% since 1990.

And when I look at the what is being taught at the various Jesuit Catholic institutions, I really have to wonder.

What happened to the oath you used to take pledging obedience to the Pope? Another oath now deemed discretionary?

Goeth pride before the fall?


Ray Marshall
Minneapolis

9:39 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

The Jesuits have always roused the ire of the dogmatists in the Church for their preference for honoring freedom of the individual conscience before God over rigid conformity narrow Church discipline. This preference is rooted in the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola and has been, from the time of its inception, a hallmark of the Society of Jesus, regardless of whether it is emobodied by all Jesuits. This preference understands how the Holy Spirit works with individuals, which is why Jesuits have stressed the need for the discernment of the spirits.

Now one thing more rigid Catholics have never been able to grasp in all of this is how such individual freedom and discernmnet fits with the Chrurch as a universal entity, which transcends any particular individual. Instinctively, Ignatius of Loyola knew that freedom and discernment had to be joined to loyalty and fidelity to the Church. For this reason he described a method for thinking with the Church. This of course never meant surrendering one's conscience or blind conformity with doctrine in an uncritical or unthinking way. Rather, it the method intended as a process that allowed room for disagreement and even dissent.

Contrary to popular opinion, such freedom, discernment, and even dissent was never at odds with the Jesuits' fourth vow, since that vow, as stated clearly in the Constitutions of the Society of Jesus refers only to missions that are directly given by the Pope. In those Constitutions this vow is referred to as the "fourth vow regarding mission."

Indeed, the Jeusits are bound to be misunderstood, as they have been through their history. In the true Jesuit way of proceeding, this kind of misunderstanding should be taken in the spirit of the Spiritual Exercises, where the exercitant is encouraged to pray for and to accept such misunderstand, since Christ himself was also so misunderstood. If Pastor Neuhuas gives voice to this misunderstanding, then every Jesuit and anyone who knows what the Society of Jesus is really about should welcome the slander and embrace it. In the big picture it is an occasion of grace. As such this misunderstanding should not render the Society of Jesus timid in fulfilling its mission, since it answers first to God and in no way should be beholden to small minded critics on the right. These individuals would do well to follow the Gospel injunction not to judge lest they themselves be judged. Leave the final judgment to God. That is traditonal Catholic teaching, which they seem to have forgotten, despite the "traditionalism" they love to wrap themselves in.

The Jesuits' history of service to the Church is a proud one of great accomplishments for God and Christ. This is especially true of the years that Pedro Arrupe was General, as he directed the Society in the promotion of faith seeking justice. Some of them as those in El Salvador died for what they believed, while many others were called to witness without shedding their blood. What they have done for Christ, what they are doing for Christ, and what they will do for Christ can never be re-written by all the malcontents in the Church, whose generosity can't even begin to match the generosity of Jesuits around the world in service of truth and the Church.

Ad majorem Dei gloriam!

9:40 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark,

Knee-jerk loyalties aside, why not address the substance of Neuhaus' argument? Do most Jesuits you know support the "gay culture?" Do most of them support "women's ordination?" Do most of them believe that a homosexual lifestyle is moral? Most Jesuits I've encountered personally do believe these things, and a google search on Mark Shea's blog will reveal hundreds of stories about dissident Jesuits from the newspapers.

Extrapolating from 5 to 19,000 obviously isn't valid, but even if Neuhaus had a 1000 page document addressing 500 Jesuits' dissents, would you accept his conclusions, or would you say "500 Jesuits do not represent 19,000?" There are only so many case studies one can present in an essay.

But the essay itself addresses dissent on the homosexual matter. I'd be curious to hear your opinions on that.

9:49 AM  
Blogger Mark Mossa, SJ said...

Thanks again for your comments.

There are a few misconceptions that fuel theses debates. The first is that most Jesuits are widely published. Not true. The second is that most Jesuits work in higher education. Again, not true.

And, I think (though I haven't done this myself), if you were to look at the work of those Jesuits who are widely published, you would be surprised to find not a collection of largely liberal views, but a great diversity of opinion on a great diversity of topics. This has been and continues to be the great contribution of such Jesuits to the life of the Church. Not a united front against the Church, but a lively discourse (often disagreeing with each other) for the sake of the Church.

Phil,

I'm a great supporter of making our institutions both more Jesuit and more Catholic. I'm a strong advocate of that in our universities (see my article in America). However, I do not agree with the highly selective Cardinal Newman Society agenda, which lacks any consistency. Its views, in my opinion, reflect more strongly Republican political values than Catholic ones. As for conformity to the teaching of the Church, how this applies to Catholic higher education is far less simple than many want to make it seem. Catholic universities should be Catholic, and their Catholic identity should be evident on many levels, including in the classroom. But does that mean we should not offer our students access to the intellectual tradition, both Catholic and otherwise? I get the impression that some would have us simply teach the Catechism, without recognizing the content of the Catechism is only the result of centuries of lively debate which both included non-Catholics and questioned Church teaching. Must we presume that such discourse is exhausted, that we in our time know all there is to know?

Anon 1,

Thank you, and thanks for offering us the example of your uncle.

David,

Thanks for sharing the letter. As always, Cardinal Dulles speaks much more eloquently than I on the topic!

Ray,

Your comment is just a bit odd. You speak as if you know me. First, the reason many have not called me Father is that they know that I have not yet been ordained. As for my habits of dress, how can you presume to know how I dress? Take a look at my blog and you'll find more than one picture of me--guess what--wearing a roman collar! Not that I do or think that one need wear one all the time, but if you saw me on the street, there's a chance you might see me in one. But I'm not going to Minnesota to prove it! As for the vow of obedience to the Pope, the post below yours explains things quite well. My thanks to the person who contributed it!!

10:13 AM  
Blogger Mark Mossa, SJ said...

Anon 3,

I would like to offer you my opinions on what you ask, but I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to do so. This is consistent with what I mentioned about superiors and controversial topics. My superiors have asked that I not comment on that topic. Sorry!

Mark

10:17 AM  
Blogger Mark Mossa, SJ said...

Anon 3,

If you would like to see one Jesuit perspective on that topic, I recommend having a look at the editorial in the most recent issue of America magazine, which you can read on-line, even if you're not a subscriber.

10:29 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

The Jesuit Order either does or does not accept the notion that an enduring homosexual orientation is an impediment to ordination.

The linguistic slight of hand that some homosexual orientations at the time of ordination might after all not be disqualification for that ordination is the very definition of "Jesuitical."

The evidence Neuhaus has reported supports the view, as Andrew Sullivan says, that there will be two churches in America: "the one Benedict pretends to govern, and the one that actually exists."

Either Vatican documents mean what they say regardless of our own wishes on the matter, or they can be completely reinterpreted to arrive at any a priori conclusion we desire.

PVO

10:34 AM  
Blogger Paul said...

"These individuals would do well to follow the Gospel injunction not to judge lest they themselves be judged. Leave the final judgment to God. That is traditonal Catholic teaching, which they seem to have forgotten, despite the "traditionalism" they love to wrap themselves in."

Can we please leave the junior-high level argumentation out of this? The traditional Catholic teaching is not to judge souls, not policies or spirits. We are indeed to test every spirit, including "the spirit of Vatican II."

Indeed the whole campaign of liberation theology for which the above anonymous poster so treasures the tenure of Arrupe was nothing more than a colossal judgment about the ordering of Latin American society and the moral claims of the people in it.

To make a moral judgment and then in the same breath condemn judgment is beneath any serious discussion.

PVO

11:07 AM  
Anonymous John M said...

Mark -

A question: In your experience, would you say that the Jesuits at Weston (let's refer to instructors as one group, students as another) embrace Humane Vitae and disseminate its teachings with fidelity? A few, many, most, virtually all?

Thank you.

11:57 AM  
Anonymous DavidAWW said...

Here's Fr. Neuhaus' response to your post:

"Reacting to the same item in the current issue of FIRST THINGS, a young man who I am told is a Jesuit scholastic goes on at some length in a widely circulated statement and concludes with: “Father Neuhaus and others need to wake up to the fact that the Society of Jesus is not engaged in some vast conspiracy to undermine the Church.”

But of course not. Although the society is much reduced in size, there are thousands of Jesuits in the world, and a great many of them are in my experience men of vibrant orthodoxy, fidelity, and intelligence. It may be a cliché to say it, but it is hardly incidental that I count some of them among my closest friends. I am greatly indebted to them. From young scholastics to distinguished veterans, they have helped me understand many things, including the problems faced by the Society of Jesus.

While there is no vast conspiracy to undermine the Church, it is the case that many of those resisting, misrepresenting, or rejecting the instruction in question are Jesuits. Jesuits are by no means alone in this respect, but they are conspicuous. I have great respect for young Jesuits who are wide awake to the problems but who are nonetheless determined to renew the Ignatian charism in the fullness of the fidelity for which the Society of Jesus was once and deservedly famous."

http://www.firstthings.com/

1:14 PM  
Anonymous Mikey said...

Mark-

Great article!

Glad to hear about the positive messages coming from the Jesuits! After reading Fr. Neuhaus's article, I was under the impression that a great many members of the Society dissented from Catholic teaching about the grave evils of abortion, artificial birth control, and of homosexual acts.

Thanks to your rebuttal of these harsh and mindless attacks against the members of such an orthodox religious order (besides the five exceptions you note), I can now be assured that Jesuits everywhere will stand up for Vatican teaching. I look forward to reading your blog in support of the Holy Father's teachings on the Theology of the Body and Humanae Vitae!

1:45 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

And building on Neuhaus' point, a post from Mark Shea's blog...
--------
The Rich Diversity of the University of San Francisco

After the Stalinist power grab in which Steve Privett and his band of Jesuit Merry men exiled Fr. Fessio to clean toilets in Burbank, USF has once again become "diverse". It's latest offering:

The USF LGBTQ Caucus and Lane Center for Catholic Studies and Social Thought
present

Is it Ethical to be Catholic? Queer Perspectives
Community in Conversation with
Fr. James Alison
Catholic priest, theologian and author

With respondents:
Vincent Pizzuto, Ph.D., Department of Theology and Religious Studies, USF
Julie Henderson, USF Student and Member of the USF Queer Alliance/Gender Roots

A reader remarks:

Is it ethical for USF to call itself Catholic? . . . I love the bit about "diversity" - two "queers" respond to a presentation by another "queer" at a talk sponsored by a "queer" club from a "queer" university held at a "queer" parish. These are shades of diversity visible only to men who live in a rarified "queer" universe.

-----
I have no special dislike of the Jesuits. I have often thought that if my life were different and I was seeking to join an order I would give serious consideration to the Jesuits (if, of course, they would have me), but Neuhaus is right that the Jesuits are too often conspicuous for their in-your-face rejection of serious Catholicism. One can stamp one's feet and complain that the characterization is "unfair" or one can acknowledge that for good or ill the perception exists and it is up to the order to do some soul searching about its very real public image problem. Ultimately, the choice is up to the society. But I don't think killing the messenger is really the best way to go.

Greg P.

1:51 PM  
Anonymous DavidAWW said...

Could I not also easily come up with a list of prominent Dominicans who take a position on the Instruction that differs from Fr. Neuhaus'. He mentions Fr. Williams, O.P. We could add Fr. Radcliffe, former Master of the Dominican Order.

Should we now assume that "the Dominicans" are setting out to subvert Catholic moral teachings?

1:56 PM  
Anonymous John L said...

Fr. Neuhaus's criticism of the Jesuits in his article is that they are 'proposing a thoroughly revisionist sexual morality', specifically with respect to the morality of homosexual activity. If you do not have an opinion on the points I mentioned - which are simply a spelling out of this criticism - then you do not have an opinion on Fr. Neuhaus's criticism; so how can you say that it is unfair or mistaken? You remark 'I get the impression that some would have us simply teach the Catechism, without recognizing the content of the Catechism is only the result of centuries of lively debate which both included non-Catholics and questioned Church teaching. Must we presume that such discourse is exhausted, that we in our time know all there is to know?' The substance of the Catechism is not 'only the result of centuries of lively debate', but is derived from divine revelation, and the teaching on the immorality of homosexual acts is included in this revelation. If we are Catholics we don't have to assume that 'we in our time know all there is to know' but we do have to assume that what the Catholic faith teaches is true. Again, the complaint about the Jesuits is not that they consider the arguments for and against various teachings of the faith, but that they take the side of the argument that says some teachings are false. As for the commenter who said; 'The Jesuits have always roused the ire of the dogmatists in the Church for their preference for honoring freedom of the individual conscience before God over rigid conformity narrow Church discipline. This preference is rooted in the Spiritual Exercises of Ignatius Loyola and has been, from the time of its inception, a hallmark of the Society of Jesus, regardless of whether it is emobodied by all Jesuits.' Compare this assertion to this excerpt from St. Ignatius's Spiritual Exercises; 'Thirteenth Rule. To be right in everything, we ought always to hold that the white which I see, is black, if the Hierarchical Church so decides it, believing that between Christ our Lord, the Bridegroom, and the Church, His Bride, there is the same Spirit which governs and directs us for the salvation of our souls. Because by the same Spirit and our Lord Who gave the ten Commandments, our holy Mother the Church is directed and governed.'
As for the commenter who said; 'My uncle is a Jesuit from Pittsburgh who was ordained in India and has spent his adult life there. Fr. Neuhaus' comments made me hurt for him.' I hope Fr. Neuhaus is indeed being unfair to the Jesuits in India (not that I hope that they are treated unfairly, but that I hope his accusation do not apply to them).

2:13 PM  
Anonymous DavidAWW said...

Accusations which, if true, apply to only certain members of a group do not thereby necessarily attach to the group as a whole or to all members of the group.

When Fr. Neuhaus goes from criticizing certain Jesuits to speaking critically of "the Jesuits", he not only makes a flawed logical leap, he unfairly maligns the Jesuits as an order.

If you won't take it from me, take it from a Cardinal (Dulles) of the Church.

If he so chose, Fr. Neuhaus could make accurate and fair criticisms of what some Jesuits say about the Instruction.

2:32 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

If 5% of a particular police force accepts bribes and those of the other 95% who have reason to be suspicious just look the other way, you'd have to say the police force has a serious corruption problem.

PVO

3:17 PM  
Anonymous DavidAWW said...

Paul,

your example doesn't negate the principle I offered.

Nor does it apply to the Jesuit order.

Does Cardinal Dulles just "look the other way"?

3:29 PM  
Anonymous philosoph0123 said...

Father...thank you for your comments about Jesuit education. I am afraid that we will not agree entirely on this in practice, for I see far more 'surrender to the spiritus mundi' than truly constructive engagement, especially with regard to sexual matters. But I also note that you do not address my other concern, which is about the responsibility of the Order to make certain that those Jesuits in any public capacity adhere to and teach the truths of the faith. And if Fr. Keenan teaches (in any public capacity) that homogenital acts are permissible, do you think that the Order has an obligation to correct his teaching, and make it clear that he is (1) not speaking for the Order, and (2) is wrong? It is this lack of correction that I (and many others) find truly problematic. He and others are, in a real sense, part of your family. And it is hence your duty (in terms of the Jesuits, not of you in particular) to correct and admonish him if he teaches falsely.

3:30 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

"Does Cardinal Dulles just "look the other way"?"

I'm not aware of Dulles' strong denunciations of dissent, he merely rules it "deviant."

"If some Jesuits, or many Jesuits, fail to live up to these standards, they may be judged to be deviant, not normative."

http://www.firstthings.com/ftissues/ft0204/reviews/dulles.html

In essence, Dulles takes the 2-order attitude: the order is not just those who personify it today, so even a mass defection by those today would not invalidate that for which the order stands.

This essentially cedes any responsibility for any housekeeping at all in the here and now, since the balance of history makes any dissent today merely deviant.

PVO

3:41 PM  
Anonymous DavidAWW said...

Paul,

if you really see Cardinal Dulles as a part of the problem and not part of the solution to the "problems" of the Jesuit order, then you are even more extreme than Fr. Neuhaus, who regularly publishes Cardinal Dulles' writings in his own journal of opinion.

Oddly enough, it is this sort of extremism that, IMO, impedes true reform.

3:53 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

"if you really see Cardinal Dulles as a part of the problem and not part of the solution to the "problems"..."

Why the weasel quotes around "problems?" Are the problems real or merely a collective delusion of the extremists?

I'd like to note that branding your opponent an extremist doesn't advance a conclusion in any direction. It's almost as though the discussion is too upsetting for some to discuss...

PVO

4:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark, the Jesuits have no where to hide from the countless positions
their leaders, institutions, and publications have professed candidly and without shame against key Church teachings and towards the family. Your respone to Anonymous's questions reveal a clever and all too familiar arrogance:

>I would like to offer you my opinions on what you ask, but I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to do so. This is consistent with what I mentioned about superiors and controversial topics. My superiors have asked that I not comment on that topic. Sorry!

(yaaaawn) Fr. Neuhaus has the upper hand in this and I recommend
you take heed.

anon_mxw

4:04 PM  
Anonymous DavidAWW said...

Why the weasel quotes around "problems?"

Because I'm not willing to concede that every accusation of every person with a beef against Jesuits is justified.

Are the problems real or merely a collective delusion of the extremists?

Depends. That some Jesuits (and some Dominicians, and some Franciscans, etc.) dissent from magisterial teaching is true, IMO. That the order itself is somehow a fifth column in the Church is fantasy, IMO.

I'd like to note that branding your opponent an extremist doesn't advance a conclusion in any direction. It's almost as though the discussion is too upsetting for some to discuss...

You are free to reject the label, if you like. And who's stopped the discussion? Not I.

4:23 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

"That some Jesuits (and some Dominicians, and some Franciscans, etc.) dissent from magisterial teaching is true, IMO."

Is it then your opinion that the preaching orders are sufficiently vigilant in ensuring that their members preach magisterial teachings despite these dissenters?

Is there any concession that the willingness of the secular media to serve as a megaphone for the dissent of these preachers makes the need for closer management of these preachers more urgent?

Finally, discrediting one's interlocutors is not creditable to anyone. Throwing out scary labels is not going to help. If I were to suggest that the defenders of the Jesuit Order in America were all heretics, for instance, that would be of the same order of ad hominem that branding their critics as extremists would be.

We can call each other names or we can discuss the disorders of the preaching Orders and what can be done.

Or are the Jesuits beyond suggestions from outside their ranks?

PVO

4:37 PM  
Anonymous DavidAWW said...

Paul,

I did not brand all critics of the Jesuit order "extremist". I branded someone who considers Cardinal Dulles "soft" on dissent, and somehow part of the problem, an extremist.

The sort of relentless, carping, inaccurate criticism of the Order itself that too many people on the WWW indulge in, doesn't help solve any of the real problems that our Church faces or that the Jesuits face.

Fr. Neuhaus, and Diogenes, and their ilk, ought to stop it.

4:50 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

What would non-carping noting of dissent look like?

Preaching is a public office, and its abuse requires public repudiation. I'd like to believe it happens, but I just don't see it.

PVO

5:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

davidaww, Too many Jesuits have a dis-ease of non-orthodoxy and they have not shown the will to admit their problem is systemic especially in the USA. The west coast has witnessed 'too much homo' in their behavior to not draw rational conclusions about their overall health affects on the body of the Church. (protect your children!) Cutting deals with the devil will not gain sympathy from the Church militant.

davidaww said:
>The sort of relentless, carping, inaccurate criticism of the Order itself that too many people on the WWW indulge in, doesn't help solve any of the real problems that our Church faces or that the Jesuits face.

5:13 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Re. Dulles being soft on dissent: I can't recall him publicly criticising dissenting preachers, certainly not on a case-by-case basis. Indeed, I suspect this is probably contrary to the fraternal charity rules of the order.

So if no real criticism can be expected from the inside, what do those of us on the outside do to counter the dissent being broadcast?

PVO

5:17 PM  
Anonymous gabriel said...

For a Catholic who has been "aware" of the Jebbies for near 60 years, this discussion is great fun. Fr. Neuhaus' difficulty is that he does not have a sense of the place of the Jebbies in the Church - when to take them seriously, when not.

There is, there apparently always has been, a tendency for the students in Jesuit schools to think well of themselves. After some thought, I put this down to the habit of the order to choose bright students with the intention of showing them that they are not as bright as believe themselves to be.
[Is it that they are the only order which does not have a sister order?].

Certainly some Jesuit fathers go a bit far in their statements. Perhaps they are but illustrating Paul's observation oportet esse haereses: it is good that there be dissenters that we may learn how better to defend the teachings of the Church.

I believe for many Catholics in this country [perhaps also in other countries] the Jesuits are like the uproarious relatives to be found in any family. But family they are. Against the silliness of some behavior, one must remember the examples of those who suffered persecution and martyrdom. It was no fun having your guts ripped out on Tyburn Hill, or hands chopped off by admiring Iroquois.

I fear Fr. Neuhaus [whose sponsor was Cardinal Dulles] has not yet grasped the family nature of the Society. And Cardinal Dulles has reproached him for the appearance of a lack of charity.

5:42 PM  
Anonymous DavidAWW said...

what do those of us on the outside do to counter the dissent being broadcast?

As for me, I'd try to suggest live a life according to the vision that our present pope outlined
in his first encyclical. He seems to think that is the fundamental thing. I think he's right.

5:47 PM  
Anonymous DavidAWW said...

er, sorry for the typo. Hasty editing!

It should read:
"As for me, I'd try to live a life according to the vision that our present pope outlined
in his first encyclical."

5:49 PM  
Anonymous Julia said...

"As for the Vagina Monologues issue, that too, I believe, is another case of a "straw man" (or perhaps straw "woman" in this case) invented by the Cardinal Newman Society. If we were to hold all campus productions to the standard of Catholic teaching, I imagine there would be little we could show. Start protesting the staging of Shakespeare plays on Catholic campuses if you want to be consistent on that score!"

Do you have any idea how ignorant you this sounds. Have any idea what the Vagina Monologues are all about? Among other things, it includes and applaluds a lesbian seduction of a 16 year old girl by an adult woman. It contributes to the "woman's body is a meatmarket" mentality of MTV, Madonna etc.

It's presented as part of a festival that promotes a Dionyseqan attitude toward life.

Shakepearean plays are not presented as pro-war, pro-assisination or pro-anything festivals.

Educate yourself. This is a letter to the editor of the SLU student newspaper from a senior woman at the school. She explains it better than I ever could. I have no idea who the Caradinal Newman Society is. I am an alumna of SLU, with a Jesuit cousin who lives on campus there, and I still live in the area - that's where I go my information.
http://www.unewsonline.com/vnews/display.v/ART/2005/02/17/42172eecb90a0?in_archive=1

6:13 PM  
Anonymous anony said...

I appreciate your efforts in the defense of the order, per se, but I have to side with Fr. Neuhaus.

As a lay Catholic (who happens to be discerning his vocation), fairly widely read and, for the past few years, pretty up-to-date with the currents of Catholic thought, it's come to the point where whenever I see SJ appended to the name of someone writing an article, book, or being quoted in the media, I wince, and begin looking for something wrong - historically innaccurate, philosophically unsound, apodictically unwise, theologically or otherwise skewed against the Tradition and universal teaching of the ages. Except in rare and notable instances, I find I find it.

This reaction isn't one I was aware of until recently. I had always had a high regard for the order and it's founder, and my interior image of a Jesuit remains that 'tall, dark and foreboding', rigorous, diamond-hard and crystal-clear man in the fullness of his intellectual and spiritual power. The smashing of that interior icon of Jesuitdom wasn't something I would have chosen (it was a comforting fiction, to think there remained, somewhere, a conspiracy of adults intent on doing good, despite what I see around me), but the iconoclasm came as a reaction from repeated exposure - the intellectual antibodies I've developed see the SJ, and jump into action, yelling out 'danger', 'beware'.

What's most disturbing to me is that I know that that image of Jesuit, a 'Pope's man', is authentic, and could still be attained today for those called to do so, and the tools to attain it are exactly the tools in Ignatius' toolbox - but too many of the order appear to have fallen in love with the world and the knowledge of the world, trading their gold for dross. Too many appear to have bought into a kind of candy-assed, cheap-grace, Protesta-catholic, 'American Church' gestalt that disrupts the relationship between universal truth as received through the Church Universal and, well, whatever the intellectual fad of the current moment is. These brothers of yours - the bad fruit - poison the branch of the tree, infecting those they touch, loving the regard of the world. And the reason we hear so much from them is that there are others willing to lionize them for what is exactly their most greivous fault.

Here's the thing: as I contemplate the order, I find I still love you guys, but I'm heartbroken and disappointed in almost all of you - some for what you say, and the others for what you don't. In some other period in history, I could see myself, perhaps and God willing, has have been proud to be numbered among your order. I could not do so today - perhaps, maybe, again, some future day, just not this one.

God bless you, I hope for all of us that you yourself may grow into the full flower of the potential of a Pope's man.

6:14 PM  
Anonymous Julia said...

Sorry about the typos. I do that when I'm exasperated.

I love the Jebbies and it pains me to see them sponsoring the Vagina Monologues - one of the goofiest ideas the feminists ever thought up.

6:20 PM  
Blogger Mark Mossa, SJ said...

Wow!

Thanks everyone for your comments!

Since I'm not a full-time blogger, I can't possibly respond to all your comments (I've got homework to do!)

But, please do continue the discussion with each other. Perhaps at some point I will be able to distill your comments and come up with a response.

But right now I've got to go to class!

6:22 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark,

Thank you for showing your true Jesuit nature in engaging this controversial post by Neuhaus. You are a true son of Ignatius and you should be very proud to be a Jesuit. One has to wonder about why Neuhaus has foolishly exposed his faulty logic in this matter. He is supposed to be smarter than that. Of course maybe it is a case of brain envy.

Keep up the good work in your studies at Weston and press forward with your goal. And when you are ordained accept the office you are called to joyously with no regret for your Jesuit family. That way you will truly celebrate the grace of God in your life. But please remember just one thing. You are always a Jesuit first and after that a priest.

6:34 PM  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Although I disagreed with some of Mark's views in my earlier post, I want to speak up in support of one of his statements.

One commenter (Anonymous # 3) asked:

Do most Jesuits you know support the "gay culture?" Do most of them support "women's ordination?" Do most of them believe that a homosexual lifestyle is moral?

Mark Mossa SJ replied:

I would like to offer you my opinions on what you ask, but I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to do so. This is consistent with what I mentioned about superiors and controversial topics. My superiors have asked that I not comment on that topic. Sorry!

A later commenter (Anonymous # 5) seemed angry at this response.

So let me say: I believe that Mark's response was entirely correct, and in fact the only morally acceptable response. Think about what Anonymous # 3 was asking: He was asking Mark to broadly characterize the views of hundreds of his acquaintances, using information that he had learned in private conversations.

If Mark had replied, this would have been a breach of trust, and slanderous if he had mis-summarized his fellow Jesuits' views.

I enjoy reading blogs. But the traditional moral prohibitions of slander, libel, and calumny are not suspended for bloggers. It's not fair for Anonymous # 3 and # 5 to demand that bloggers reveal personal information. In fact, it seems a bit hypocritical, as these fine folks don't even reveal their real names.

6:55 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Lawrence King,

You are a Godsend for you have put your finger on it. The reason some of us post anonymously is so that we do not become the object of libel, slander, and contempt for what we say openly and honestly. Thank you for posting your assessment. I hope all the "faithful" Catholic bloggers will read B16's new encyclical and take it to heart.

7:44 PM  
Blogger Mark Mossa, SJ said...

If it is true as anon_mxw implies that obedience is arrogance, then there is no winning for a Jesuit.

Damned if you do, damned if you don't.

7:57 PM  
Blogger RC said...

mamagiglio wrote: If your order were obsolete, no one would care.

The SJ may well be obsolete or at least irrelevant in this country; most of its dissent-riddled institutions are a dead weight on the Church. Maybe in a generation or so, it'll be worth caring about.

9:36 PM  
Blogger Jenstall said...

hate it that my superiors keep forgetting to send me the memos about our secret mission to undermine the Church

What?? No secret decoder ring???

Yes, I'm late to the party. As usual.

9:45 PM  
Blogger Mark Mossa, SJ said...

A couple of comments:

Julia,

I will admit to never having seen the Vagina Monologues (it doesn't really hold an attraction for me). I find the part you describe offensive, but I'm also told that other parts of the play are very moving. But my point is that there are any number of films, plays, etc. that are shown on Catholic campuses, many of them which would be considered "classics" even, that portray and perhaps even seem to espouse things offensive to Catholic sensibilities. I think it is important for students to be allowed to assess such things, especially in light of Catholic values (and perhaps this is really where we fail in often not encouraging such critical analysis and dialogue). It just seems to me that given the basis on which people argue for banning the Vagina Monologues, you would have to argue for the banning of a whole list of films, plays, novels (Lolita, for example is considered a classic work of literature and no doubt read and discussed on many Catholic campuses) and other works of art. Yet somehow the Vagina Monologues has become the litmus test for the Catholic identity of a university, to the exclusion of everything else a university does. It's too reductionistic.
I'm looking at the bigger picture here, even though my guess is that personally I wouldn't like the Vagina Monologues. What I would enjoy, however, is getting together with a group of students afterwards and talking about the social and ethical implications of the play, especially in light of Catholic teaching. That, it seems to me, would be much more productive than making lists of "unCatholic" universities based on a single criterion.
-----------------------
To all,

I also just want to make an observation.

With the exception of Amy, Todd, and John Sawyer who have been here before, almost none of you (except Larry King and Ray Marshall) in any way identify yourselves. If there are links under your names, they are private ones, and many of you are simply anonymous. What does that say?

One of the things I enjoy about blogging is the community of discourse that arises from it. And, up until this discussion, those who have commented on my blog, for the most part, have done so transparently, as part of that community of discourse.

I come to know where people are coming from--and Amy is a good example--and then we manage to engage in friendly, fruitful, Christian discourse. I now consider these people my friends, even if we don't always agree.

But I have to say that I'm not crazy about anonymous attacks and a kind of "guerilla" approach to commenting.

I invite any of you, and this would be confidential, to e-mail me personally if you would like to engage in a more personal dialogue about some of these issues. I find that sometimes when the discussion leaves the comment box, it can be much more honest, open, charitable and satisfying.

But do also keep the discussion going. I am enjoying it, even if the comments have become too numerous for me to respond to everything!

Peace to you all,

Mark

9:48 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

Sometimes caritas means saying things the audience doesn't want to hear. The Jesuits may be such an audience if they choose to ignore the commonplace observation of the faithful outside of their order that in the U.S. they are an order shot through with thinly (or not at all) veiled dissent, most spectacularly on matters of love and sexuality.

Claiming only that unflattering reports demonstrate only an intellect "without an openness of thinking" or "foolishly expos[ing] his faulty logic in this matter" demonstrates only a desire to shoot the messenger.

The American clergy in general has been in denial about so many of its problems for so long it is perhaps too much to expect the Jesuits to be the first to face criticism head on, but the preaching orders especially have a special obligation to orthodoxy from which the Jesuits especially seem to have just walked away.

PVO

9:56 PM  
Anonymous John M. said...

Hello Mark:

Since I posted earlier there has been a flurry of activity, some even acrimonious.

I am genuinely interested in understanding your position better, and understanding your brothers better. In that spirit, I repeat my earlier question:

In your experience, would you say that the Jesuits at Weston (let's refer to instructors as one group, students as another) embrace Humanae Vitae and disseminate its teachings with fidelity?

A few, many, most, virtually all?

I hope this doesn't fall within the scope of prohibited topics for discussion as directed by your superiors.

Thank you, again.

John M.

9:56 PM  
Blogger Paul said...

"And, up until this discussion, those who have commented on my blog, for the most part, have done so transparently, as part of that community of discourse."

The bottom line is that you have attacked Fr. Neuhaus, who quoted:

Fr. Robert Scullin, S.J.:
"We continue to invite all qualified young men of either orientation who desire to lead a celibate chaste religious life to consider joining us on our mission. We welcome them and are proud to have them among us."

Fr. Thomas Reese, S.J.:
"The Vatican is making decisions about the appropriateness of ordaining homosexuals in total ignorance of how many current priests are homosexuals, how well they observe celibacy, and how well they do ministry."

Fr. John Coleman, S.J.:
"You’re not going to have integrated, mature sexuality unless you process it—and therefore yes, ask; yes, tell; yes, process."

Fr. James F. Keenan, S.J. at Weston:
"The Vatican’s teaching remains so because its contemporary exponents privilege as a condition of truthfulness a teaching’s unchanged status."

but you haven't bothered to cite a single Jesuit who wrote in support of the straightforward interpretation of the text. I daresay the only on record is noted Jesuit dissident Fr. Joseph Fessio, SJ, who was famously exiled to provincial Siberia by his superiours.

What we have seen is spectacular parsing and hairsplitting from most of the American clergy, but it cannot escape observation that among the leading hairsplitters are Jesuits.

Those Jesuits not in exile from their own order who have dared to speak at all have all spoken with calculated ambiguity or have straightforwardly attacked the plain meaning of the text.

10:21 PM  
Anonymous Lawrence King said...

Mark wrote:

It just seems to me that given the basis on which people argue for banning the Vagina Monologues, you would have to argue for the banning of a whole list of films, plays, novels....

The question isn't one of banning (despite the claims of a few blog-commenters). The public debate is about whether a Catholic college should sponsor the VM -- as a play and a fundraiser and the primary social-activist event of February -- in the college's name.

Notre Dame's president Fr. John Jenkins just declared that the play would not appear as a ND-sponsored event, even though it would be done in a classroom setting with a discussion: [link]

And Fr. Brian Shanley OP has made a similar decision at Providence College. Again, he says the play can be performed in a classroom or read and analyzed, but having the college sponsor it is inappropriate. The full text of his explanation is worth reading: [link]

Let's take an example from the other wing. Suppose someone wrote a play called "America is Great", which was a two hour praise-fest of United States. Certainly there would be some parts of this play that were true and which you would find moving. But would you have your Catholic college sponsor this play, without any alternative viewpoint or rebuttal? I think not.

Now, the danger of college students today becoming America-is-always-right jingoists is much less than the danger that college students today will end up pursuing sex, sex, and nothing but sex. In other words, a play that glorifies sex is not countercultural: it is 100% part of the American culture today. Shouldn't Catholic colleges do more than sponsor plays that reinforce the popular culture? Even if some scenes in the play are moving?

11:07 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark Mossa, SJ replied to Lawrence:

"All your comments just go to show that a prejudice exists that won't be swayed by evidence to the contrary."

Mr. Mossa, this statement strikes me as rather problematic. To what evidence are you referring? I just re-read your original post, and in doing so, I could not find any evidence to support your argument that the Jesuits are not like Fr. Neuhaus portrays them.

I should say that I disagree to some extent with Fr. Neuhaus's assessment of the instruction, but in your response, you do not offer any evidence at all to demonstrate that the Jesuits are not, by and large, dissenters from Catholic teaching and orthodoxy.

I attended a Jesuit high school and am aware of what goes on at Jesuit universities. While I greatly respect certain Jesuits that I know, most I have encountered (particularly those ordained in the last few decades), embrace a fuzzy expression of Catholicism that is weak on orthodoxy and eager for approval from the secular world.

The Jesuit who taught my confirmation class told us he believes there should be married and female priests. Another prominent Jesuit appeared in the society pages in a photo from a party, wearing secular clothing and identified in the caption by only his legal name - such that nobody knew he was a Catholic priest. Another Jesuit I know has never worn his collar or priestly clothing. Most Jesuit high schools now have Gay-Straight alliances or "Gay-Straight Christian Life Communities", which a multitude of faculty join to show their "solidarity" with those who identify (when only in their teens) as "gay". One day in confirmation class, a Jesuit in his seventies substituted for our younger Jesuit teacher who was out. One of my classmates - in all sincerity - answered this older Jesuit's question about "the mystical body of Christ" by saying that the host at communion is just a symbol of Christ, not really his body and blood. Another Jesuit scholastic taught Buddhist theology and yoga. In short, from the perspective of yours truly, most of my interactions with the Jesuits have left me with the distinct impression that those in the order are more inclined to dissent from than uphold many of the important teachings of the Church.

The evidence for Fr. Neuhaus's assertions seems pretty strong.

I've enjoyed reading your blog from time to time, and was very much intrigued by your "America" article on Catholic youth that seek "tradition", but to be perfectly honest, I think your response to Fr. Neuhaus lacks any sort of heft or persuasiveness. It simply does not present any evidence to the contrary. While I wish I could take your word for it that "The Society of Jesus portrayed in such attacks is not the Society of Jesus I know".

But in the current environment, and based on my own first-hand experience, that's unfortunately hard to do.

Sincerely,
Joaquin

11:09 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Boy this whole conversation is sad.

Well, here's my $0.02... I live in Boston. Many friends/family have graduated from BC (sponsor of Vagina Monologues - trash - nothing similar to 'Lolita' at all). With the exception of one BC grad friend, most do not practice Catholicism. Those who do would be hard pressed to differenciate themselves from Universalist Unitarians or Episcopalians. Sad that they do not know it.

The Jesuit Urban Center in Boston was voted by Boston Magazine as "best place to meet a mate, gay" a few years ago. The once beautiful church is now strewn in gay pride banners.

And then there's Fr. Paul Shaughnessy, SJ (currently a Navy Chaplain, I believe) who writes about the problems in the Jesuit family... "Are the Jesuits Catholic?" and one other piece about the gay priest problem - not specifically about the Jebbies though.

I dunno. Seems like the Jesuits have some of the worst AND some of the best in their ranks. Problem with the Jesuits is that we hold them to such a high standard that when things go awry like they have been for years (assuming Malachi Martin wasn't too off base with his book "The Jesuits") it hits hard. Especially hard when you live in a city like Boston and see the influence the Jesuits can have on the local Church. I don't know if St. Ignatius would have been so friendly towards same sex marriage but maybe he wasn't as intellectually gifted as some of today's Boston Jesuits.

Colleen
croylelundin@comcast.net

11:17 PM  
Blogger Mark Mossa, SJ said...

Paul,

I don't know if you literally meant Siberia (I don't know history of Fr. Fessio in detail).

But I did have to chuckle a bit, given the location of his current assignment: Naples, FL :)

A far cry from Siberia.

BTW, a Jesuit from my province actually chose to go to Siberia, and he quite likes it!

11:58 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark, I don't know if it's worth it to tangle with Fr. Neuhaus. What's to be gained? Those who appreciate his arch and uncharitable commentary are obviously already convinced, and sensible Catholics recognize his article for what it is: the bitter paranoia of an aging man.

In the end, it's a little bit like complaining that Grandpa's in his cups and rambling again. Probably best to let the old curmudgeon have his drink and his ramblings too!

12:11 AM  
Blogger Mark Mossa, SJ said...

"I don't know if it's worth it to tangle with Father Neuhaus."

My friend, you're right, to a certain extent. But perhaps I can sow a little seed of doubt for some next time somebody pulls out the tired old "liberal Jesuit" straw-man.

They just might ask: maybe it's a little more complicated than that? Maybe there's more diversity in the Society of Jesus than I give them credit for?

One thing that has become abundantly clear to me since becoming a Jesuit is that most Jesuits--and some would find this surprising--live their lives in quiet, humble and holy service to the people of God. They help innumerable souls find their way to God and never write a book, keep a blog or become involved in public debates. Their contribution to the people of God should be honored, not besmirched by some convenient stereotype. When a previous commenter said she felt sad at Fr. Neuhaus words for her uncle who has spent his life as a Jesuit missionary in India, she expressed precisely what I'm talking about.

No, few are likely to change their mind about such things. But Fr. Neuhaus did respond with, let's say, a more nuanced position that speaks more to the reality of things. So, that's one step in the right direction.

Peace,

Mark

7:31 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

In all the talk of Jesuits dissenting in these posts I do not recall any mention of the legitimacy of dissent from non-infallible teaching in the Catholic Church. Neither Humanae Vitae or the directive on admitting gay men to orders is infallible teaching. Any Catholic may in conscience dissent from non-infallible teaching. Neuhaus is barking up the wrong tree when he tries to foment outrage by comparing the so-called truce of 1968 to the aftermath of the release of the directive on gays in the priesthood, and when he raises unwarranted and unproven suspicion of a Jesuit conspiracy regarding the latter. His screed is nothing more than homophobia couched in quasi-intellectual terms. At best it is merely dilettantish, and at worst it is intellectually dishonest.

9:04 AM  
Anonymous Ferde Rombola said...

Mark:

You opened this thread and commented on a piece by Fr. Neuhaus by saying you know your brother Jesuits well. When asked a direct question, do the Jesuits at Weston support the Church's teaching re: homosexuality, priestly celebicy and the ordination of women, you replied you don't know them well enough to comment. When pressed for an answer, you replied you are forbidden to answer. Which is it?

If your brothers at Weston support Church teaching on the subjects mentioned, there is no obstacle to replying, "Yes." If the answer is not 'yes,' it's no.

And who are these anons making personal attacks on Fr. Heuhaus? You complain about them attacking you but have nothing to say otherwise.

As to Fr. Neuhaus, he's been around a long time and I've been reading him a long time. He knows what he's talking about and doesn't shoot from the hip. Cardinal Dulles didn't refute a single thing he said, just lamented the saying of it.

Bottom line, as has been said, you have not supported your comlaints of Fr. Neuhaus' article with a single shred of evidence to the contrary. His statements stand unopposed.

10:00 AM  
Anonymous Jim Cork said...

One of the parishes my wife and I attended during our 3 years in Hiroshima was run by the Jesuits. Fr. Cangas, now the pastor, is a Spaniard who speaks fluent Japanese, has a spontaneous and affectionate sense of humor, and is great with the children of the parish. He played a great Santa Claus for the Christmas party one year.

One day I showed up at the church, assuming there would be a vigil mass on Saturday, but it had been canceled. Instead, I found Fr. Cangas, the parish secretary, and a young Japanese couple in the chapel. They had just had a civil marriage with their families the week before, but she wanted to have the marriage blessed by the Church, since she was Catholic. Her family was not Catholic, nor were her friends. The only people she had to support her were the Church. Fr. Cangas asked me to witness the wedding, along with the parish secretary. In a society where people instinctively go along with their social group and where Catholics are less than 1% of the population, it was moving to see a woman so young make such a resolute commitment to her faith.

Anyway, for every anecdote about bad apples among the Society of Jesus, I'm sure we could find 100 stories from people who have been touched by the Jesuits and led closer to God.

10:15 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

>"Bottom line, as has been said, you have not supported your comlaints of Fr. Neuhaus' article with a single shred of evidence to the contrary. His statements stand unopposed."<

I agree. Fr. Neuhaus has the high bar of reason in this debate. The counter argument is too weak to continue. Thank you Fr. Neuhaus!

10:16 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Anon above:

Humanae Vitae is an infallible teaching. See: http://socialjusticereview.org/articles/humanae_vitae.php - written by a Jesuit, no less!

And do a google search on the 1961 document signed by John XXIII -"Careful Selection and Training of Candidates for the States of Perfection and Sacred Orders".

I don't read Fr. Neuhaus as "foment[ing] outrage by comparing the so-called truce of 1968 to the aftermath of the release of the directive on gays in the priesthood, and when he raises unwarranted and unproven suspicion of a Jesuit conspiracy regarding the latter" at all. In my mind, his is pointing out a growing problem within the Jesuit community - one that is distancing the Jesuits from Rome. There are many examples of this if one cares to do research so as not to remain blind. For example, there are problems in the Los Gatos, Ca., Jesuit community.

Using the 'primacy of conscience' clause when discerning moral stances which are at odds with the Magisterium is an excuse that has caused centuries of schism and sorrow.

Colleen

10:52 AM  
Blogger angelmeg said...

Mark,

I symapthise with you. It is hard to watch your family being attacked. You have the truth on your side though, take consolation in that.

By the way, I promise to call you Fr. after you get ordained, really I do.


Maggie

11:21 AM  
Blogger Gashwin said...

Let me second Maggie's comment, Mark. I do think Fr. Neuhaus was rather unfair. This whole "Jesuit = evil-dissernter" caricature seems to be the norm in certain Catholic circles. And I want to add my two cents to the "defense of the family" bit ...

I am a fan of the Society (even as I might have some serious reservations about what some are writing or saying or teaching. That's true of any group, though, I'd hazard). I was educted by the Jesuits, and it was because of them, that I became a Christian (and a Catholic). St. Ignatius is my Confirmation saint.

Thanks for the "those-darn-Jesuits" links above! I would suspect, though, that they won't satisfy some, because, you know, the Jesuits are being damn bleeding-hearts, and loving the poor and the needy, instead of just condemning and denouncing left, right, and center.

Maybe the Jesuits had a preview of the Holy Father's latest encyclical ;-)

12:03 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Colleen:

Fr. Ryder might like Humane Vitae to have been infallible, and he may think that it conforms to his understanding of what an infallible teaching is. It has never been defined as an infallible teaching and wishing won't make it so.

The "primacy of conscience" is hardly an excuse but is a firm traditonal Catholic teaching. Even Cardinal Ratzinger upheld it:

"Against the Pope as an expression of the binding claim of Church authority, stands one's own conscience, which has to be obeyed, if need be, against the demand of Church authority."

Josef Cardinal Ratzinger

12:57 PM  
Blogger Steve Bogner said...

Wow, I get busy for a few days and forget to check-in and a whole comment-storm breaks out!

Over the past few years I can think of being around at least a dozen different Jesuits - at my parish and at retreat centers - and never hearing anything out of line with church teachings. What I did hear was great preaching, intelligent debate and compassionate counseling. A dozen out of 19,000 isn't statistically significant, but that dozen has been significant for me.

1:30 PM  
Anonymous grant said...

Mark,

Wow, quite an explosion. I'm surprised at how bad some of the reasoning is: I especially liked one "conservative's" comment -- I'm just trying to save my soul -- well, sorry, that's the heresy of Pelagianism. Gotta love that orthodoxy.

And people who decry things they know nothing about by title: James Alison calls himself "queer" -- must be a leftist talk on homosexuality; nobody calls you "Father" -- must be because you don't wear your clerics.

The meanspiritedness is mind-numbing. Neuhaus is occassionally quite good and also quite bad. The anti-Jesuit stuff is more psychologically-based than reality-based. Not all Jesuits are professors at elite universities. Thanks for bringing that out. Sorry I missed you last weekend. Grant
P.S. Had lunch with the Jebbies today. Quite a few collars. I guess a bad priest in a collar is worse than a good priest in civies. Orthodoxy reduced to fashion.... Jesus would love it.

2:51 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Mark:

"If there are links under your names, they are private ones, and many of you are simply anonymous. What does that say?"

It says I'm at work and I'm not going to put my e-mail address down on the web with a timestamp where my boss can find it.

As far as your comment goes:

"I would like to offer you my opinions on what you ask, but I'm afraid I'm not at liberty to do so. This is consistent with what I mentioned about superiors and controversial topics. My superiors have asked that I not comment on that topic. Sorry!"

Your comment smacks of cowardice. You fail to address the substance of Neuhaus' argument because your superiors are telling you not to? What do you or they have to hide? Certainly, if you lived in harmony with the Magisterium you would have nothing to hide, and in fact, you have been exhorted to opine. That your superiors tell you not to belies the truth of Neuhaus' arguments.

If you believe "gay is OK" then be honest with yourself and your readers. If you can't address the substance of Neuhaus' article then don't post on it!

3:21 PM  
Blogger RC said...

Mark's right to defer to his superiors about what he publishes, so it is wrongheaded to use the word "cowardice" here.

On the other hand, Mark isn't able to give Fr. Neuhaus' arguments their due, and probably shouldn't have inveighed against them at all, if he can only disagree vaguely.

9:42 PM  
Blogger Mark Mossa, SJ said...

Since things seem to have died down, I'm going to close out comments here.

But one last thought: No matter what your position on Fr. Neuhaus' article, If whether or not you think "gay is OK" is the litmus test for orthodoxy, we have really lost our way.

Thanks to everyone for your comments and a lively discussion.

Peace,

Mark

10:23 PM  

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