Wednesday, April 25, 2007

Serving Mammon rather than God

Tim Townsend of the Post-Dispatch asks "Did SLU sell its Jesuit soul for a sports arena?"

St. Louis University, a Jesuit school proud of its Catholic heritage, celebrated a legal victory last week that affirmed it is not controlled by the Catholic church or by its Catholic beliefs.

Catholic beliefs?

The Missouri Supreme Court agreed with the school in handing down a decision that the city of St. Louis did not violate state and federal constitutions by granting the university $8 million in tax increment financing for its new arena.

Opponents of the $80 million arena sued the school in 2004, halting construction.
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In a 6-1 decision, the court said SLU "is not controlled by a religious creed."
How long has it been since SLU had any "religious creed"?

Know who filed the suit against SLU?

As the suit, filed by the Masonic Temple Association, made its way to the Missouri Supreme Court, SLU argued that it was not controlled by the Catholic church, or even by the ideals of the Society of Jesus (or Jesuits), but by its mostly lay board of trustees.

It seems the Masons were actually doing Catholics a favor, but alas, they misjudged their "Jesuit" adversaries.

Maybe Catholics parents who send their children to school there should be suing SLU for fraud - better, Catholics might think long and hard about sending any of their children there, if they want to receive a Catholic education.

Perhaps, though, the argument is over semantics, such as the meaning of the word "control"...Reading the article, this word seems to jump off the page...

He said all 28 Jesuit colleges and universities in the U.S. are governed with a board like SLU's. Most Jesuit universities began including lay people on their boards in the wake of the Second Vatican Council reforms of the 1960s. SLU introduced laity to its board in 1967 and says it was the first Catholic university to do so.
Surely, this was due to the rebellion from the magisterium in favor of "academic freedom" as documented in the Land O'Lakes Statement and not Vatican Council II (except insofar as one might engage in mental gymnastics and wordsmithing such as "how Catholic higher education could participate in the evangelization of the world that was called for by the Second Vatican Council").

Even though I despise the communist inspired ACLU, it does make a very lucid and revealing point about the matter:
In a friend-of-the-court brief filed on behalf of the Masonic Temple Association, the American Civil Liberties Union said it was "surprising the University would sell its heritage for $8 million."

Hasn't SLU, like many others, been selling off bits and pieces of its Catholic heritage for decades?

Nevertheless, SLU tells us why in its brief:
In the end, SLU was philosophical about the ways the traditional mission of a Catholic university has changed. "Many of the institutions identified as Catholic in the nineteenth century, including St. Louis University, have undergone changes over time," the school said in its brief. "They have adapted themselves, their corporate structures and their missions to serve a largely secular world."

They have "adapted" themselves, and their serve the "secular world" - rather than God....But then, how many "Jesuit" institutions of higher learning have done the same? How many other so-called Catholic colleges and universities march in lockstep? Fortunately, we are seeing a welcome rebirth of colleges and universities which are, by choice, Catholic. May these be blessed by God for their fidelity while the others are bowing before the world.

St Ignatius, pray for us and for your lost and confused brothers.

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