Friday, June 18, 2010

Anne Hendershott on "Another Catholic University Fails a Litmus Test"

Authored by Anne Hendershott of The King's College (New York City), this appeared in today's Wall Street Journal:
Marquette University's decision to withdraw an offer to Jodi O'Brien, a self-described "sexuality scholar" to become Dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the Jesuit-led institution continues to divide the faculty. Although Ms. O'Brien reached a settlement with the University last week, her supporters maintain that she is the victim of homophobia. Teachers who criticized the initial job offer say that Ms. O'Brien's sexual orientation is not what disqualifies her, but rather the fact that her publications disparage Catholic moral teachings on marriage, sexuality and the family.
In a post-settlement letter sent June 9th to the Marquette community, University President Father Robert A. Wild wrote, "[W]e have apologized to Dr. O'Brien for the way in which this was handled and for the upset and unwanted attention that we have caused to this outstanding teacher and scholar." Yet Fr. Wild also added that he stands by his decision to rescind the employment offer, a decision "made in the context of Marquette's commitment to its mission and identity."
The specific nature of the job at issue—as dean Ms. O'Brien would have been charged with helping to implement Ex Corde Ecclesiae, Pope John Paul II's 1990 apostolic constitution intended to revitalize Catholic higher education—may have driven Marquette to back off this particular appointment. But the real story here is that in the upside-down world of Catholic higher education, there is more status in hiring a sexuality scholar who denigrates Catholic teachings on sexuality and marriage than in choosing a serious scholar who might actually support Catholic teachings.
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