Jesuits “Escape” from ‘Catholic identity’

 Jesuits “Escape” from ‘Catholic identity’

Matt Archbold / May 25, 2018

With many Jesuit colleges and universities struggling to find enough Jesuits to fill roles, Fr. Jack Bentz, S.J.  wrote a counter-intuitive piece for America Magazine arguing that the Jesuit order, which is seeking a boost in vocations, should increasingly minister at public universities which typically have larger student bodies.

One of the advantages to foregoing Catholic education, according to Fr. Bentz, is that campus ministers don’t have to worry about things like “Catholic identity.” In fact, Fr. Bentz says he has found “greater freedom to serve the students” at Boise State than he did serving at Jesuit institutions.

The reason is disturbing:

“B.S.U. is not a Catholic university, so we spend no time worrying about Catholic identity, whether preserving it, reforming it or retrieving it for the university,” he wrote. “Gone are the days of being expected to be on anyone’s side about a production of ‘The Vagina Monologues.’”

Oddly, Fr. Bentz suggests it’s easier for a ministry to be Catholic at a secular university. At Jesuit universities, campus ministry must support “whatever spiritual path (the student) might be following,” he wrote. But at secular institutions, the Catholic student center doesn’t have to worry about being “all things to all students,” which “makes for a very Catholic-focused approach to the ministry.”

Perhaps the Jesuits could try evangelizing Catholicism at Jesuit universities? Just a thought.

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2 comments on “ Jesuits “Escape” from ‘Catholic identity’

  1. Sad.
    But this is rather late to the party and a bit passé by about 50 years. This was the fashionable liberal attitude for progressive modernists in the 1970s and 1960s when Dan Berrigan, S.J. got an assignment at Cornell and bragged about preferring the more liberal non-Catholic atmosphere (including at Union Theological Seminary, Columbia, and Yale). Sounds like someone has been reading the recent biography on Dan Berrigan.

    In the ’70s and ’80s the liberal fruitcakes at Weston liked to hobnob at Harvard Divinity to see how the “death of God” and Rudy Bultmann scholarship were progressing.

    While there are legitimate reasons for sending Catholic chaplains to non-Catholic regions to spread the true Catholic faith in an orthodox manner, that does not rule out the need for Catholic chaplains and Catholic faculty members to keep Catholic identity alive at Catholic colleges, universities, and high schools. In the old days the Jesuit residence might be filled with some thirty members of the Society of Jesus. Mass attendance was required then.
    Giving up on Catholic education is not exactly priestly.

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