Friday, August 22, 2008


University of San Diego administrators rejected faculty efforts Thursday to restore a prestigious teaching position to a theologian who is a prominent figure in an abortion rights organization.

The Catholic school withdrew its appointment of Rosemary Radford Ruether in July because she serves on the board of Catholics for Choice.

Administrators reaffirmed that decision Thursday despite a petition with more than 2,000 signatures, including 54 faculty members, organizers said. The petition asked the school to restore the offer or allow Ruether to visit campus for a week and give a lecture on academic freedom.

"We are deeply concerned by this turn of events both because it is insulting to Professor Rosemary Radford Ruether and because of what it portends for academic freedom in a Catholic institution," the petition reads.

The 7,000-student university defended its decision to withdraw its offer for the Monsignor John R. Portman Chair in Roman Catholic Theology for the upcoming fall semester.

Reuther comments:

Ruether said the dispute reflects a larger debate in Catholic institutions about how to treat hot-button issues, including gay and lesbian rights and ordination of women priests.

"There's just a huge conflict going on between whether people can discuss controversial issues or whether you can only give the official position," she said.

Not quite. Paying customers who sign up for a Catholic education for their children expect the university to produce what it advertises--a Catholic education.

Controversial topics can certainly be discussed as long as the Catholic position is clearly and confidently stated. We don't want our kids to be ignorant. We want them to know why they believe what they believe and be prepared to defend their beliefs. That is what Catholic education is about. We don't want them educated by professors who believe what the Catholic Church opposes.

It's called truth in advertising, and San Diego has just taken steps to fulfill its end of the contract.

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