”Torture which uses physical or moral violence to extract confessions, punish the guilty, frighten opponents, or satisfy hatred is contrary to respect for the person and for human dignity.” -From the Catechism of the Catholic Church
“The University is thereby committed to…being truly Catholic in its full submission to the teaching authority of the Catholic Church, thereby teaching as true what that teaching authority teaches as true, rejecting all propositions contrary to those truths, and promoting thereby all the truths of revelation whether found in Scripture or Tradition as taught by the Catholic Church. ” – From the Mission Statement of the Franciscan University of Steubenville
In the week since Franciscan University of Steubenville bestowed an honorary degree on its commencement speaker, former CIA Director and apologist for torture General Michael Hayden, there has been a nearly unprecedented outpouring of outrage among Catholics. Journalists and bloggers by the hundreds demanded the resignation of the president of the college, and the bishop of Steubenville requested that the honor be rescinded. The controversy generated headlines around the country. A letter writing campaign among angry alumni was initiated.
Actually, none of that happened, aside from the rumored alumni letter writing. Some liberal journals - The National Catholic Reporter, Commonweal, US Catholic – carried the story online, though in NCR it was buried in a report about the University dropping its student health insurance. And The Register ran a story beforehand, with no hint that there was anything amiss.
Vox Nova and this blog were apparently the only voices in the Catholic blogosphere to protest. According to friends in Steubenville there is no discernable outrage around the campus. The silence is deafening. The watchdog group the Cardinal Newman Society is nowhere to be seen.
Compare this to what occurs when a Catholic university awards a degree to someone who is prochoice. I am not saying there is anything wrong with this; in the 80s I led one such protest when the college that was associated with my seminary granted honors on the proabortion governor. On the feast of the Immaculate Conception, no less. But every school that has so honored a prochoice figure will tell you that they were not honored for their stance, but in spite of it. So what Steubenville did was something far worse: they specifically mentioned “defending our shores” as the reason for the honor. Never mind that as head of the National Security Agency in 2001 Hayden failed to defend our shores. The phrase is shorthand for his long career in the military and intelligence worlds. There is outrage over some drone in the bureaucracy whose guilty of, at most, remote participation in abortion, but little over honoring a man who directly participated and oversaw egregious violations of human life and dignity.
The impression is given that for some conservative Catholics the Church teaches with authority only on sexual morality and that there is really only one moral issue on which Catholics must agree, abortion. As evil as abortion is, that is really only one symptom of a culture of death. The Church teaches authoritatively that militarism and torture are grave evils, and for a university that prides itself on its “passionately Catholic” atmosphere, to honor a man with as dark a past as General Hayden’s is a travesty, as is the lack of reaction.
But apparently many conservative Catholics think that as long as you are wearing your Precious Feet pin, you can torture with impunity.
But perhaps I am being uncharitable; after all FUS is a small school; it is no Notre Dame. I would have been unaware of the honoring of the General had not a friend in Steubenville alerted me. And while my readership has grown hugely since I started near daily blogging, I doubt it rivals the numbers of one of the really big Catholic blogs. Perhaps people just don’t know. Perhaps the very lack of reaction explains the lack of reaction.
So if you are a blogger reading this and share my anger, consider linking to my posts on the matter of General Hayden, or write something yourself.
And if you are reading this and you think what the University did was fine, please stop calling yourself “prolife”. Call yourself “antiabortion”, or maybe “pro-American fetal life” (our bombing campaigns and drone strikes kill babies in the womb, too, you know).
And just shut up about “the sanctity of life”.
And shut up about your fidelity to the Church.
You are as selectively prolife and as selectively Catholic as those you love to vilify on the Left.