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University Of San Diego Bars Brit For Gay Marriage Support

BeattieTA few weeks ago, British theologian Tina Beattie joined about two dozen other Catholics in signed a letter published in The Times of London in which they support marriage equality.

"[It is] perfectly proper for Catholics, using fully informed consciences, to support the legal extension of civil marriage to same-sex couples," that pro-equality letter read.

Mary Lyons, president of the University of San Diego, disagrees with Beattie's stance and last week notified Beattie (pictured) that her fellowship at the school's Frances G. Harpst Center of Catholic Thought and Culture had been canceled because Beattie "dissented publicly" against official Catholic Church position.

From that letter:

[The Center is] to provide opportunities to engage the Catholic intellectual tradition in its diverse embodiments: doctrinal, spiritual, moral, literary, artistic and social. This would include clear and consistent presentations concerning the Church's moral teachers, teachings with which you, as a Catholic theologian, dissent publicly.

In light of the contradiction between the mission of the Center and your own public stances as a Catholic theologian, I regretfully rescind the invitation that has been extended to you.

Beattie petitioned Lyons for a reconsideration but was turned down. On her blog, Marginal Musings, she points the finger not only at Lyons, but at Catholic bloggers who began a campaign against her:

I do not know the exact reasons for the cancellation of my visit, but I have been the target of a blog campaign in recent weeks, which began with a concerted endeavour to have a lecture by me at Clifton Cathedral in Bristol cancelled.

The cancellation of my visit is not the most important issue in all this. The real issues are academic freedom, the vocation of lay theologians in relation to the official magisterium, and the power of a hostile minority of bloggers (some of whom are ordained deacons and priests) to command the attention and support of the [Catholic doctrine overseer Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith]. The latter is the most sinister development of all, and it is a cause for scandal which brings the Church into disrepute.

According to ABC News, Gerard Mannion, director of the Center of Catholic Thought and Culture , was not consulted before Beattie was given the boot, and says he's "very surprised, shocked and deeply disappointed". Other faculty and students at the private Catholic university plan on holding a protest against Lyons and her knee-jerk decision.

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  1. From Rome's point of view, "Catholic Thought" is self-contradictory.

    Posted by: Demian | Nov 3, 2012 9:04:40 AM

  2. Medieval institutions do medieval things.

    Posted by: Cycledoc | Nov 3, 2012 9:20:28 AM

  3. She's a woman and she thinks. Have we heard about a female who believes in women thinking and learning being brought-down anywhere else? Oh yeah! That's what the Taliban does. Now we have the Roman Taliban.

    Posted by: Alex Parrish | Nov 3, 2012 9:38:04 AM

  4. Wonder if Archbishop Salvatore Joseph Cordileone had anything to do with this. He is an alumni of USD.

    Posted by: David | Nov 3, 2012 9:52:47 AM

  5. Now, wait: just how many anti-gay-marriage staffers or adjuncts does HRC employ? Does Towleroad?

    Posted by: Sauce for the Goose | Nov 3, 2012 9:53:30 AM

  6. Feel free to leave a comment of the University of San Diego's Facebook page.

    Posted by: homer | Nov 3, 2012 10:02:41 AM

  7. Mary Lyons, president of the University of San Diego: "I was only following orders!"

    It sounds like Pope Rat learned quite a bit about stifling dissent during his time in the Hitler Jugend.

    Posted by: Caliban | Nov 3, 2012 10:06:23 AM

  8. I'm pro-marriage equality, definitely not a Catholic, but also a bit of an irrepressible gadfly, so I'll ask: How many commenters here who think it's appalling that the university disinvited this woman because her views conflict with Catholic teaching also thought it was perfectly fine that Gallaudet University suspended Angela McCaskill for signing a petition that conflicted with that school's principles?

    Posted by: Booker | Nov 3, 2012 10:35:41 AM

  9. Why hasn't she left the church yet like all the rest of us?

    Posted by: phil | Nov 3, 2012 10:40:03 AM

  10. As a 1975 graduate of the School of Law, I am embarrassed and ashamed of my school. I know it is owned by the Diocese of San Diego and therefore stuck with whatever bigoted opinion neaderthals might have, but based on thisorder, they cannot teach any science, anything about any other religion, anything about the rule of LAW in this country as opposed to the rule of religion, etc. This President needs to grow a some guts. This is a school, not a nunnery, not a convent, not a monastery. Their purpose is education, not religion.

    Posted by: Craig Fox | Nov 3, 2012 10:43:35 AM

  11. I was at first shocked that it happened at "University of San Diego", then the article says it is a private institution and not the "State University". The letter from the administration is sufficient ground for legal action for a regular faculty but she is only a visitor.

    Posted by: simon | Nov 3, 2012 10:47:38 AM

  12. Why would anyone want to work for an organization that would fire you for dissent?

    Posted by: ROBfromVA | Nov 3, 2012 10:51:40 AM

  13. @Booker -- Your comparison is interesting on the surface, but fatally flawed in that the two are not comparable. You are comparing apples to oranges.In the Gaulidette incident the woman was the "diversity officer" -- that is she was specifically charged with the duty of promoting diversity, therefore her actions were in direct conflict with her duties. In this incident, Tina Beattie is a lecturer, someone who is expected to bring challenging ideas and promote rational thought with the students. If Beattie were expected to be the university's chaplain or dean, or is she were running for pope, then her views would disqualify her, but to lecture on challenging ideas and to challenge the status quo in matters of rational thought -- well that's entirely different. If one only hires lecturers with one thought between them, then one can hardly be called a "university." That would be an oxymoron.

    Posted by: Alex Parrish | Nov 3, 2012 10:54:44 AM

  14. Booker, Gallaudet hasn't been going around suspending all staff and faculty for signing the same or similar pledges. Angela McCaskill, however, is the PROVOST FOR INCLUSION AND DIVERSITY at Gallaudet and, as gays are INCLUDED in "inclusion" and PART of "diversity" as it's generally applied, should NOT be signing pledges that promote prejudice against any group OR that approves of putting the rights of a group to a popular vote.

    Hey, I know! Let's all sign a pledge that the rights of deaf people should be put to a popular vote! They talk funny and that Americans With Disabilities Act is AWFULLY expensive to implement! Would THAT be OK?!

    The real issue here is that Angela McCaskill has NO business holding that position since her religious beliefs are apparently in opposition with her professional responsibilities.

    Posted by: Caliban | Nov 3, 2012 10:58:52 AM

  15. @ Craig Fox :
    Education and Religion are incompatible, IMHO.

    Posted by: JackFknTwist | Nov 3, 2012 11:05:51 AM

  16. Alex Parrish:
    Your points are valid for a "regular" university. This is a school with probably Catholic donors or even money from the Catholic Church. Their purpose is to brainwash and not to educate. It is in the same league as the Liberty University.

    Posted by: simon | Nov 3, 2012 11:08:11 AM

  17. McCaskill was not fired. She was put on paid leave. There was never any question of firing her. There is a question as to whether she should be in her present position if she holds anti-gay views.

    Posted by: Jay | Nov 3, 2012 12:28:29 PM

  18. To Alex Parrish and Caliban: First, let me re-emphasize that I'm on the equality side. Other than that, I think your points are distinctions without a difference. In both cases, aside from the specific variables, the institutions in question were concerned with expressions of a view that they felt lay too far outside their core principles, and so they took action. I think universities should always strive to allow diversity of thought as broadly as possible, but there is obviously always a red line that cannot be crossed. Where that line is depends on one's point of view; since I support marriage equality I obviously don't think that position even approaches the line, but I can see why a Catholic university would feel differently. I'd say there's a lot of gray area and subjectivity in deciding these things.

    Posted by: Booker | Nov 3, 2012 12:42:31 PM

  19. @Booker, in the case of McGaskill, I don't agree. If you are an observant Jew or Muslim who cannot eat or touch pork, don't apply for a position as Head Quality Control Officer at a bacon factory.

    If your religious beliefs cause you to believe that gay people are "lesser than" and that it's reasonable their (our) inclusion be determined by popular opinion or vote, DO NOT apply for a position as Provost For Diversity and Inclusion. The two things are diametrically opposed. Would Ms McGaskill support David Duke being the Provost for Diversity and Inclusion, even if he swore his personal views didn't influence his professional duties? I seriously doubt it.

    If YOU were a gay student at Gallaudet, would you feel comfortable taking an anti-gay discrimination or harassment complaint to Ms McGaskill in light of her signature on that pledge? I would not, even though that is the entire POINT of her position at the university.

    And again, no one BUT the Provost Of Inclusion And Diversity at Gallaudet has been singled out for censure for having an opinion on this issue. That's because the position comes with certain expectations and Ms McGaskill failed to uphold them.

    Posted by: Caliban | Nov 3, 2012 1:09:10 PM

  20. I've always considered the notion of "religious education" to be something of an oxymoron. This news only reaffirms my position.

    Posted by: atomic | Nov 3, 2012 1:16:48 PM

  21. Unfortunately for Ms Beattie, "fully informed consciences" cannot, in the eyes of the Roman Catholic Church, dissent from official teaching. We've seen plenty of epistles from prelates on this website with that message. I suspect she holds other views which similarly dissent from official teaching. (Good for her!!)

    Posted by: Diogenes Arktos | Nov 3, 2012 1:33:24 PM

  22. She is a theologian, not a nun. She doesn't have to follow Church's teachings. She doesn't even need to believe in God. She shouldn't have associated herself with such a university as a visitor. She must have no problem with her own home institution in Britain.

    Posted by: simon | Nov 3, 2012 1:42:47 PM

  23. Last year I was a finalist for a faculty position at USD. I ended up turning down the offer to come to campus and interview after a lengthy discussion with my partner of 18 years. It was precisely for fear of this kind of behavior that I did so. Very poor decision, USD; it will affect your recruitment of good faculty.

    Posted by: Pitt90 | Nov 3, 2012 2:58:39 PM

  24. Ah, the usual nonsensical "It's a private school, so they can do what they want and don't have to follow the law or any of the usual academic rules of conduct" crap

    Posted by: Steve | Nov 3, 2012 3:01:33 PM

  25. I suspect she knew this would happen and will make the most of the effects of her censuring, as she should. It's good for the world to know that Galileo would have the same problems with the church today.

    Posted by: Troy | Nov 3, 2012 3:07:56 PM

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