The Catholic College: Death, Judgment, Resurrection

Why don’t we put a moratorium on abstract discussions of the nature of the Catholic college and instead take a good look at what is actually happening on Catholic campuses? Ideas can be debated forever but they have consequences, and Catholicity or its lack can be determined more easily by looking at what happened day-by-day on the campus than by examining the college catalogue or listening to academicians rationalize an unsatisfactory status quo. The Catholicity of an institution is best judged by its effects on the people it serves. “You can tell a tree by its fruit,” said the Lord (Mt. 7:20).

Death

A fair case can be made that the Catholic college begins to die the day it abandons its formal institutional commitment to the teaching authority, or magisterium, of the Church. If the college as an institution is no longer bound by Catholic definitions, norms or laws, it cannot require that its staff or students be so bound. Any recommendation in that direction comes with ill-grace from a school unwilling to commit itself to the only sure judge of what is authentically Catholic, viz., the magisterium of pope and bishops.

A university (and its colleges) is not an abstraction, nor a separate entity. It is what Webster calls it: “An institution of the highest level,” one level of a system. If the system is secular, the university/college is based on learning acquired by experimental methods whose truth is determined by a body of scholars for whom truth is always earthbound and relative. If the system is Catholic, then its institutions of higher learning, like the lower, because they are founded as much on the eternal verities contained in Revelation as on scientific learning, are engaged in forming and developing those skills which will help students achieve their proper temporal and eternal destiny. Of necessity, these institutions relate institutionally to the Church, not to the State alone.

A free-floating college (no matter what religious adjective modifies the noun) is an institution based on autonomous private judgment, whether individual or corporate, about all things scholastic, including religious studies. Such an institution no longer unequivocably accepts an indubitable “given” regulating belief and conduct. It no longer formally and bindingly commits itself even to those teachings that can be identified as coming from Christ.

It would be fair to say that such a college is “neutral” or “secular,” certainly “non-denominational,” surely neither Catholic nor Protestant nor Orthodox. Although mainline Protestants often take the accumulated faith judgments of scholars as the norm of confessional beliefs, Evangelical colleges resemble more what an authentic Catholic institution should be in that they accept and scrupulously respect an indubitable given, i.e. the Bible, along with the particular Evangelical understanding of it, as the ultimate norm of belief, even for the scholar.

It would seem to be a truism, therefore, that alienation of a college from the religious body that gave it birth necessarily facilitates the alienation of those whom it trains. At the very minimum, the doctrines and pieties of the Church are no longer controlling. An immediate effect is that authentic Catholic belief, or unbelief, are now on the same legal or institutional footing. Authentic Catholic faith may be taught correctly in such an institution but no longer as uniquely true; it can just as easily be poorly taught, dissented from, or rejected outright.

One of the simplest ways to examine what happens after alienation — after a Catholic educational institution abandons its binding and formal commitment to the magisterium of the Church — is to relate an oft-told story about Fordham University once it accepted “Bundy Money” from New York State. Governor Nelson Rockefeller used a 1968 “Bundy Report” to push through legislation making tax monies directly available to private colleges for the first time. There was one hitch: the grants could go only to non-denominational colleges. Under the State Constitution religious colleges were barred from public assistance. At the time there were twenty well- established Catholic colleges in New York (ten junior and/or community colleges) all facing some financial stress, all still turning out upwardly mobile and reasonably practicing Catholics. Fordham University was one of the first to apply for Bundy money and, in order to qualify, elected to change its affiliation from “Catholic” to “non-denominational.” Fordham (fronted now by a new “lay” Board) assured State Education Commissioner Ewald Nyquist that it would no longer favor Catholic doctrine or practice. After Fordham’s application (and simultaneously those of two other schools) had been approved, Rockefeller’s Lieutenant Governor, Malcolm Wilson, telephoned Nyquist. As the story goes, Wilson, an outstanding protector of Catholic interests in Albany, congratulated the Education official. “Ewald, I want to thank you for making State money available to Fordham and the two other Catholic colleges.” To which Nyquist replied, “Malcolm, you’ve got it wrong. Fordham is no longer a Catholic college.”

Fordham received about $1,000,000. With the passage of time one Catholic college after another abandoned its institutional relationship with the Church until today in New York State only Molloy College and St. John’s University have the freedom to maintain or reinforce the Catholic connection.

The Fordham case is not unique, of course, because in those years Jesuit academics elsewhere and other Religious in states without a Blaine amendment, were also breaking the ties that bound their colleges to the Church. In those cases the pursuit of government money was only one excuse, academic approval from secular professional agencies being what they truly desired.

The more serious cause, however, was the movement in high Jesuit circles to modernize the understanding of the magisterium by enlarging the freedom of Catholics, especially scholars, to dispute its claims and assertions. Jesuit scholars had already made up their minds that the Catholic creeds and moral norms needed nuance and correction. It was for this incipient dissent that the late Pius XII chastised the Jesuits’ 30th General Congregation one year before he died (1957). What concerned Pius XII most in that admonition was the doctrinal orthodoxy of Jesuits. Information had reached him that the Society’s academics (in France and Germany) were bootlegging heterodox ideas. He had long been aware of contemporary theologians who tried “to withdraw themselves from the Sacred Teaching authority and are accordingly in danger of gradually departing from revealed truth and of drawing others along with them in error” (Humani generis).

In view of what has gone on recently in Catholic higher education, Pius XII’s warnings to Jesuits have a prophetic ring to them. He spoke then of a “proud spirit of free inquiry more proper to a heterodox mentality than to a Catholic one”; he demanded that Jesuits not “tolerate complicity with people who would draw norms for action for eternal salvation from what is actually done, rather than from what should be done.” He continued, “It should be necessary to cut off as soon as possible from the body of your Society” such “unworthy and unfaithful sons.” Pius obviously was alarmed at the rise of heterodox thinking, worldly living, and just plain disobedience in Jesuit ranks, especially at attempts to place Jesuits on a par with their Superiors in those matters which pertained to Faith or Church order (The Pope Speaks, Spring 1958, pp. 447-453).

There are abundant expressions of similar anti-magisterium virulence making the rounds of Catholic college circles today. Only recently, Jesuit Joseph O’Hare, Fordham University’s new president, on his own campus, derided Rome’s efforts (in its proposed guidelines for higher education) to bring Catholic colleges back into close harmony with Church teaching and the Catholic way of life. In an address to the Catholic Commission of Cultural and Intellectual Affairs (October 25), which was reported in the Catholic press and heard by members of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars in attendance, O’Hare opined that Rome’s view of Catholic truth is “narrow and triumphalistic” and its concept of Church and/or Catholic university one that he rejects. Referring to the Charles Curran and Archbishop Hunthausen controversies, then in the news, the Fordham president clearly situated himself on the side of freedom, arguing further that the Church needs clarification (not merely repetition) of her doctrines more than she needs certification of the orthodoxy of her teachers. He admitted that according to Catholic norms, Fordham cannot be called Catholic. But he wants it called Catholic anyway and expressed satisfaction that the editors of the New York Times were “quite pleased with his view of Catholic higher education.” Though standing fast in his disagreement with Rome, O’Hare assured his audience that “Fordham is the most Catholic of all the institutions in the Archdiocese of New York.”

One usually knows what to expect of a college when one knows what its president thinks because, as Emerson taught us long ago, an institution is the lengthened shadow of a man. Take Fordham again. The new president, while editor of America magazine, though supportive of Catholic social teachings, hardly ever resolved any burning controversial Catholic issue in the magisterium’s favor — whether the subject was sexual ethics, the indissolubility of marriage, contraception, the ordination of women, or the nature of a Catholic university. Not only was Rome wrong in many of her doctrinal positions, said O’Hare, but it made an “intellectual martyr” of Hans Kueng, and its treatment of Edward Schillebeeckx was nothing short of “scandalous.”

Father O’Hare is broadminded about what Catholics may believe and do on their own initiative, but assigns John Paul II a narrower role. The Church of the future, in the O’Hare perspective, “does not need to look like the Church of Rome, Italy.” Indeed it will be a comfortable place because of the “communal Catholics,” i.e. those who “exercise selective obedience to Church authority.” Issues like contraception are for him tedious questions, hardly at the center of Christian marriage, let alone of faith. Why, he asks, don’t U.S. Catholics adopt the more realistic view of Church authority prevalent among the old Europeans? By virtue of their geographical proximity to Rome these Catholics know better the Church’s wrinkles, flaws, and fallibility. What we need in the U.S. is less “papolatry.”

What does Father O’Hare expect the future Church to encompass? A return to the original experience of Jesus, better prayer, and greater concern for those in need.

What about the other doctrinal demands, those enunciated by what O’Hare calls the “relatively recent Council of Trent”? This is the Council which solemnly distinguished the fundamentals of Catholic Christianity, as distinguished from Protestantism. Most of Trent’s propositions were reaffirmed by Vatican II in one way or another. Fordham’s president readily admits that John Paul II still proclaims these doctrines in a “vigorous and forthright manner,” but opines that many decisions made by the faithful in these matters today are personal and intimate, with the Pope seeking “free internal assent” to Church teaching, not enforcement. (I refer to Father O’Hare’s “Future Catholics: You Ain’t Seen Nothing’ Yet,” in U.S. Catholic, April 1981.)

The future Church that O’Hare contemplates is presumably one with the low observance characteristic of old European Catholics; one in which private judgment, not the magisterium, determines what the faithful may or may not believe; in which the Pope is looked upon as an exhorter, not the one called to “teach them to carry out everything I have commanded you” (Mt. 28:20). His church is not the one to be found in the documents of Vatican II. It is not the one that the Church expects to be institutionalized in its schools, whether they be kindergartens or college classrooms. Yet “pick and choose Catholicism” is precisely what is being institutionalized in Catholic higher education across the country.

Judgment

Colleges like Fordham once had good football players and well-educated practicing Catholics. Any active parish priest of an earlier day frequently met in the New York area local Jewish doctors whose medical ethics were Catholic because they had been trained at the Fordham Medical School, now long extinct.

Things were radically different by the 1980s. The premises of an institution uncommitted to the Church places continuing Catholicity in jeopardy. O’Hare, for example, was recently asked by a bishop to explain how he can maintain on his faculty a contributor to Screw, one of the nation’s most pornographic magazines, which of its nature is a fomenter of crass and immoral sexual activity. The Fordham president, like Voltaire, indicated that, however offended he was personally by the revelation, academic freedom was the paramount value. (The president of Yeshiva University would not be so detached were he to find an anti-Semite on his faculty.) Another bishop wrote Fordham to ask what was happening to his young priests when he sent them there for graduate schooling. Many complaints had come his way about the questionable orthodoxy of leading faculty members, about ex-priests and ex-religious on the faculty (“several of whom are not favorable toward teachings of the Church”), and about teaching opinions described as “liberal” put forward as the only “legitimate” view of the Catholic faith.

Students who come to these institutions as believing Catholics, write later how shocked they are at what they experience in an environment no longer fashioned by an institutional commitment to a specifically Catholic way of life. They provide horror tales of professors who deny that Christ ever intended a Church, certainly not a hierarchical Church; denigrate indissoluble marriage; ridicule students’ inherited views on original sin, purgatory, angels, and transubstantiation; present the New Testament words of Christ as largely post-Resurrection fiction; and allow the Church’s moral norms to be set by Charles Curran instead of John Paul II. Such students report coming face-to-face with a vicious anti-hierarchical ecclesiology taught with evident conviction, and a biting anti-papal ideology, as well. Trendy causes are reinforced in and out of the classroom, as if these are the new “dogmas” of the people’s Church — contraception, women’s ordination, liberation theology, etc. What scandalizes innocent matriculants even more is the conduct of many priests and nuns, practically all out of religious garb, many on a sabbatical of one kind or another, with their resentment at being called “Father” or “Sister.” The bitterness of nuns who deride their own religious formation is especially disturbing to those who experience it in large doses. Students who think with the church or who support John Paul II’s policies are ridiculed. As one student put it, “The student who naïvely sits through the perverted theology will unwittingly begin to doubt all that he once held as dear and true.”

The widespread alienation often attributed to young U.S. Catholics may have more to do with the aberrant behavior of priests and nuns in the schools and colleges they attend, ex-priests and ex-nuns too, than anything they hear or see in their parishes. They may have been taught at home that fornication is wrong, but when they tell their parents that it goes on regularly in their Catholic college residences, without interference from the administration, they have reason to wonder what specifically is the Catholic way of life. Blurred moral norms and anti-Church animus passed on to the young collegian or to the graduate student are particularly dangerous to the Church’s future because many of their number will gravitate to diocesan schools and/or parish centers as teachers or catechists.

These kinds of happenings are not just East coast events, nor are they phenomena always associated with a sordid chase for Bundy money. They are the result of important Catholic scholars’ ideas that the Catholic Church’s view of Christianity is no longer credible, that Vatican II freed them to redefine and restructure the church into their kind of religious institution. Jesuits and Jesuit institutions have surely been in the forefront of this drive since Vatican II, if not before. Loyola University’s Thomas Sheehan, now an unbeliever, distinguishes the revolutionary theology dominating Catholic higher education today from “the folk religion” of John Paul II. Patrick M. Arnold, a practicing Jesuit at St. Louis University, differentiates between conventional Catholics, “satisfied with the norms and beliefs they experience in their local Church,” and the postconventionals who know the difference between their essential Catholic creed and the “cultural baggage in which these beliefs are carried.” The “cultural baggage,” of course, includes those “norms and beliefs” they receive from the Church’s pastors. Berkeley’s Jesuit Michael Buckley, responding to Archbishop Foley’s insistence that a Catholic university must pass on the Church’s “truth already possessed,” thought this could be better done if that truth was “purified from its cultural accretions” by Catholic scholars. Such approaches suggest a two-tier type of Catholicism, not unlike what characterizes the present Church of England. When Father O’Hare said that Fordham is not a Catholic university in the sense that Rome defines the phrase “Catholic university” he was opening the door wide to this development within the Catholic Church.

We are dealing here with a story that is becoming history. It is by now an old story that the president of Georgetown University told an international congress of Catholic Universities fourteen years ago that he would secularize his institution if Rome dared pass an academic law on the Church’s higher education. The president of Marquette University recently circularized the Jesuit University presidents’ network with a letter assuring his readers that “Rome cannot take away academic independence which, once given, was given definitively.” Aside from the fact that Rome never conceded this independence, the letter is the echo of the same “We will not serve” that has been heard since 1965.

Let us belabor the obvious. Rome knows well, and so do parents, that false teaching and aberrant behavior is commonplace on Catholic campuses. And the self-justification for dissidence, in conduct as in thought, is just as extensive. As he leaves Notre Dame after some thirty-five years, Theodore Hesburgh was asked whether students are more religious today than when he came. This was his response: “I think they have gotten more religious in a good sense. When I came here, we had one student working for the poor in town. Today, we have more than 2,000 working for the less fortunate. That is pretty good evidence of Christianity, Love God with your whole soul and your neighbor as yourself. There wasn’t much loving of neighbor when I came here.” Whatever else this explains, it does not explain Catholic piety nor the raison d’être of the Catholic college. Nor does it do credit to the Holy Cross religious who for most of this century left Notre Dame to serve the poor of the Third World.

This particular problem of the Church is not simply that Catholic doctrine is no longer taught in its integrity, nor with the resulting conviction in students that one expects in a convinced Catholic institution. As bad as the teaching situation is, the really serious impediment to the proper Catholic formation of the young is the vigorous everyday reinforcement of the “doctrines” of the New Catholicism in these “Catholic” schools. Charles Curran says he is in the mainstream, and he is absolutely right. Thomas Sheehan says that Catholic theology has been dismantled by Catholics themselves, and he too is right. Mark Jordan recently observed that “Those holding orthodox views have been persecuted, sometimes to the point of dismissal, precisely for being orthodox.” And he is right. Neither Curran, Sheehan, nor Jordan are identified as fundamentalists, although statements of fact such as they make ordinarily are dismissed as the rantings of Catholics United for the Faith or Opus Dei. Fordham’s President O’Hare in the aforementioned address found a handy whipping boy in the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars, whose university members live with campus scandals daily. The reinforcement of deviant ways goes on. Not only are Rome’s doctrinal statements considered “narrow and triumphalistic,” but defenders of the Holy See are regularly badmouthed, when they are not made to suffer professionally. After the Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith spoke negatively on women’s priestly ordination a half dozen years ago, Berkeley Jesuits rushed in to contest the declaration. When fellow Californian Cornelius M. Buckley, S.J., criticized those Berkeley Jesuits publicly for this dissent and for their failure to contest the appearance of Hans Kueng on their campus, who do you think was silenced by the Jesuit Provincial? C.M. Buckley, to be sure.

So it goes today. Leading dissenters within the Church are often Jesuits, free under the Society’s present practice to undermine John Paul II’s dogmatic and moral teaching publicly; faithful Jesuits, however, have been placed under obedience not to criticize such confreres publicly under penalty of reprimand.

Most of the 239 colleges in the U.S. claiming the name “Catholic” are afflicted with similar reinforced hostility to the magisterium. Many smaller institutions struggle desperately to keep the faith. But, with few exceptions, the larger institutions are prouder of their “independence” from church authority than of their role as transmitters of the truths proclaimed by the Church as coming from God Himself through Jesus Christ. Charles Curran at the Catholic University of America, Richard McBrien at Notre Dame, Timothy Healy at Georgetown, Daniel Maguire at Marquette, are only the more noticeable evidence that onetime collegiate pipelines of authentic Catholic teaching now communicate religious doubt and, certainly, an anti-institutional Church bias that inhibits students’ full entrance into the richness of a devout Catholic life.

Resurrection

Among those who “believe all the truths which the Catholic Church teaches,” one question keeps recurring, and rightly so: When will Church authority face up to what Church authority knows to be its most threatening rival in modern times? In a democratic Church, popular stirrings of the magnitude currently dividing the Church would have resulted in a public investigation and corrective legislation.

The Church, however, is hierarchic and no reform occurs without bishops. Reform does not occur overnight. It is a century since Cardinal Newman warned bishops about the runaway Catholic university. In his Idea of a University, the famed English convert said it is not sufficient for a university to be Catholic that Catholic theology be taught in it. “A direct and active jurisdiction over it and in it is necessary lest it should become the rival of the Church with the community at large in those theological matters which to the Church are exclusively committed.” There can be only one Catholic and apostolic Church. One rival to it would be too much. Colleges no longer institutionally committed to the Catholic faith pose a dangerous threat to the meaning of the word “Catholic.”

From 1969 onward Rome worked to regularize this situation, with little cooperation from anyone. In 1972 the Congregation for Catholic Education thought it had reached agreement with a world-wide congress of its university presidents that their schools henceforth would be institutionally and faithfully committed to the “Christian message as it comes to us through the Church.” The approved document drawn up in the shadow of St. Peter’s, entitled “The Catholic University in the Modern World,” conceded it to be the right and duty of a bishop to intervene in university affairs if he found irregular teaching or behavior. The bishop had the option of taking the matter up with the individual professor or with the college administration (no. 59). And, if that action proved ineffectual, he had the option by agreement of taking his displeasure to the general Catholic public.

No sooner were the delegates home than the Jesuit president of Georgetown held a press conference to announce that Rome agreed with Americans on the autonomy of the Church’s higher education system. When he heard of this, Cardinal Gabriel Garrone, the usually mild mannered Prefect, was furious. He countered with the demand that Catholic colleges “unequivocally” spell out their character and commitment in their statutes, and, furthermore, create machinery for their self-regulation in matters of faith, morals, and discipline. This demand has largely been ignored ever since. During the next ten years the Holy See developed a section of the New Code of Canon Law (1983) which stipulated (n. 812) that “those who teach theological disciplines in any institute of higher studies have a mandate from the competent ecclesiastical authority.” This, too, remains a dead letter in the U.S.

The continuing onslaught on Cardinal Baum’s proposed guidelines for authentic Catholic colleges (he is Garrone’s successor) is little more than a replay of the oft-repeated cry: We will not serve! What does Baum require that stirs this fury? Simply that the college which claims to be Catholic acknowledge that it exists within the Church, is part of it, that this ecclesial character be reflected in its activities, that it consider itself a place for carrying out the salvific message of the Church, and that it commit itself to this purpose by statute. And to guarantee that Catholic teaching is safeguarded, those who teach theological subjects must have a mandate from competent ecclesiastical authority.

These proposed guidelines are Rome’s way of dealing with a new situation. Whereas formerly the sponsoring religious community guaranteed Catholicity, that role now devolves on the hierarchy. Who else but the hierarchy is the ultimate guarantor of Catholicity? Until 1967 this was presumed, since the religious sponsors of all these colleges were subject to the magisterium. It surely is inimical to the Catholic faith that colleges which insist on private judgment in matters religious trade on the Church’s name, giving the impression that the young will receive a Catholic education under their auspices. Since their first loyalties now are to civil or academic bodies, which are uncommitted to or which deny the truth of the Church’s claims and doctrine, it is not possible for colleges so constituted to remain Catholic. One has only to observe what happened to the Protestantism of those colleges which made a similar decision in the nineteenth century. Whereas “private judgment” in matters religious was a Protestant principle, not even the divines expected those separating colleges a century later to have divested themselves fully of their Christian allegiance.

All the excuses for following a religious instead of Catholic norms — the need for government monies and for academic respectability — are simply excuses. With some exceptions, like the New York State situation where the acceptance of Bundy money precludes the recovery of Catholic identity, properly organized lay boards can follow whatever lead the religious community still in charge wishes to provide. Fordham cannot become Catholic again unless it gives up Bundy money, but Marquette and Georgetown can become Catholic in the full sense of the term if the Jesuits there really want to give higher place to their Catholic mission than to approval from the American Association of University Professors.

Furthermore, with some exceptions, most American universities are, in fact, overgrown colleges with most of their activity directed at teaching masses of undergraduates. If self-proclaimed Catholic universities cannot teach youth to believe more strongly in their Church and to live good Catholic lives, instead of inculcating free thinking and loose moral behavior, they should openly declare they are no longer Catholic.

The Catholic Church cannot tolerate a pseudo-church working on her own young to the spiritual harm of the faithful and the sabotage of the church’s mission. Nothing prevents the John Courtney Murrays, the Henri DeLubacs or the Yves Congars of today from working their way within the authentic Catholic system. The magisterium of the Church has just as much claim to evaluate Catholicity as an academic or government review board to judge the merits of a scientific discovery; those like Hans Kueng and Charles Curran may complain, but not seriously. Since these academics have set aside the authentically Catholic theological methods and, in fact, provide institutional upheaval, they respond to whatever rejection they receive from Church authority in the manner that racists, anti-Semites, revolutionaries, etc., respond to similar rejection from the secular academic or civil apparatus. What these dissenters engage in is ideological warfare, not the quest for truth.

The bottom line for Catholic academics, as for all the faithful, is the truth of what the Church teaches in Christ’s name. The fruits of the separated “Catholic” college are there for all to measure, and they are not good. In 1972, Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen (as he was watching a Paul VI lecture) was prompted despairingly to say, “I recommend that my relatives send their college-bound children to secular colleges where they will have to fight for their faith, rather than to Catholic colleges where it will be stolen from them.”

Fordham’s President O’Hare recently advised Church authorities to “let the rest of us decide if that person is or is not a Catholic theologian.” This is a variation on the line expressed in 1976 by Theodore Hesburgh to the Administrative Board of U.S. Bishops: “Trust us.” That in turn is a variation on the plea made by all free enterprisers. Inevitably, the evils they create evoke public authority to protect the people in its charge from the ravages of freewheeling competitors. The record since Vatican II shows that trusting college presidents to protect the Catholic faith is no longer prudent or possible.

Thomas Aquinas once said that some people are brought to virtue only through the force of law. Our own civic experience demonstrates the truth of that proposition. At one point there was no need of Church law governing Catholic higher education; that situation may arise again. But today, and for the foreseeable future, Church governance is necessary not only to protect and defend the truths of the faith but also to safeguard the Christian lives of the faithful committed to her care.

The Catholic academic scene would be different today if twenty years ago the Jesuit education machinery had demonstrated a willingness to protect Catholicity as avidly as it wished to maintain its civic respectability in a totally secularized world. New circumstances call for new answers and public authority in State or Church must always deal with the worst features of social change. Had college presidents worked with Rome to be as Catholic as they wanted to be American, they would by now have devised suitable mechanisms for guaranteeing convinced Catholic formation, as they once did, while restraining doctrinal and moral deviance or denying tenure to those who no longer believe in the Church’s teaching. Professors or administrators who reject binding Catholic teaching do not belong in a Catholic university. And the time for confronting this phenomenon is long overdue. An entire generation of young Catholics are badly trained in and poorly practicing the faith their parents had hoped would be reinforced by the self-proclaimed Catholic college.

If Catholic life is directed to eternal salvation, then Christ’s own bottom line must take precedence. “If your right eye is your trouble, gouge it out and throw it away. Better to lose part of your body than to have it cast into Gehenna” (Mt. 5:29).

By

A native of New York City, George A. Kelly (1916-2004) was ordained for that Archdiocese in 1942. After receiving a Ph.D. from Catholic University, he worked in parish life, administration, and academia in New York. He was one of the founders of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars and author of many books, including The Battle for the American Church (1979). In the 1980s, Msgr. Kelly was at St. John's University in New York City.

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