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The Jesuit-run Fordham University in New York has a rich literary history.
Edgar Allan Poe spent time at Fordham when it was known as St. John’s College. He was living in a cottage, the guest of Reverend Edward Doucet, SJ, who allowed him unlimited use of the college library.
Poe thoroughly enjoyed the Jesuits and once said that they were
“highly cultivated gentlemen and scholars, they smoked and they drank and they played cards, and they never said a word about religion.”
The Jesuits in Poe’s time, while not the radical (and often heretical) usurpers of traditional Catholicism that we’ve come to know today, still had something of an edge in the 1840’s, the time that Poe got to know them.
(The Jesuit descent into theological chaos and rebellion is best described in Malachi Martin’s book, ‘The Jesuits,’ which details the religious order’s fall from grace.)
Fast forward to 2024 and to what Fordham University has become.
In 2023, The Christian Post reported on two Catholic universities that are among the five worst universities for free speech.
One of those universities was Fordham.
“At Fordham University, one student from the class of 2024 told researchers that they ‘felt that sometimes in a few of my classes, the Catholic view or perception was ignored or misunderstood, which was uncomfortable at a catholic university.’”
Fordham is the home of feminist Elizabeth A. Johnson CSJ (a Sister of St. Joseph), Professor Emerita in the Department of Theology.
The Sisters of St. Joseph, of course, are notorious for their obsession with “advanced” theology and feminist retakes on traditional Catholic teaching.
In the 1950s, this order of nuns stood as the hallmark of tradition and stability with their elaborate habit which even by traditional standards seemed overdone in its complicated architecture of big rosaries, necklace crucifixes, hidden pockets and wide sleeves.
Today, few of any Sisters of St. Joseph wear anything that shows they are members of a religious order.
Most ‘St. Joe’ nuns resemble woodworking lesbian humanitarians in Birkenstocks; some even come decked out in jewelry and makeup, which would even make a child ask: why did these women even bother to become nuns?
Sister Johnson, in any case, has written that feminists have a grudge against Mary, the Mother of God, because she “stands above them as the Virgin Mother of Christ.”
This nun believes that the torrent of hatred for women has resulted from the honor given to the Virgin Mary since the birth of Christianity.
Sister Johnson is happy that devotion to the Virgin Mary is “dying out.” To her, it is the death of a medieval symbol that no longer has any relevance.
In fact, Sister Johnson wants to “reclaim Mary” with “new liberating interpretations.”
‘Liberating interpretations’ might also apply to Fordham’s Orthodox Christian Studies Center, a department established to further ecumenical dialogue with the Roman Catholic Church.
The Center’s Co-Director, George Demacopoulis, a gay man, is in many ways an Orthodox clone of Sister Johnson.
Speaking with The Washington Post, Demacopoulos, who is also the official historian for the Order of St. Andrew the Apostle (the Archons of the Ecumenical Patriarchate in America), stated that abortion is legal in every major Orthodox country, “and while the faith is against it, it also respects the autonomy of women. Church and state are generally separate in these countries and abortion is less a political issue,” he said.
The fact that abortion is legal in every Orthodox country should not be worn as a badge of honor by the Orthodox Church, even if the Orthodox presence at the annual March for Life in Washington is significant, though it comes nowhere near the Catholic Church’s commitment in this area.
(The avoidance of issues like abortion in many American Orthodox parishes, including my own, indicates that priests are nervous about liberal Orthodox pushback.)
Indeed, an outgrowth of this view can be seen in the comments from Greek Orthodox Archbishop Elpidophoros, a leader of Orthodox Christianity in the United States, who at the 2023 March Life stated that the biblical Mary “freely chose” to bring Jesus into the world, “and God respected her freedom … we march not for coercion.”
If the Merriam-Webster definition of religious Orthodoxy is correct—“conforming to established doctrine especially in religion”—then what is happening in Christian Orthodoxy needs to be seen in a new light.
That being: “Orthodox” Christianity is no longer Orthodox, but something else.
Another Catholic university, Notre Dame in South Bend, Indiana, has gone through a metamorphosis that has taken the ‘Catholic’ out of Catholic.
Students at Notre Dame are now able to procure aborticide pills and get references to other abortion services.
Crisis Magazine reported that one professor there, Tamara Kay, went on a bragging spree about her efforts to refer Notre Dame students to abortion-related services at a campus event called “Post-Roe America: Making Intersectional Feminist Sense of Abortion Bans.”
“Professor Kay also acknowledges that while her views on abortion do not align with those of the Catholic Church, some of her other views align with Church teaching rather well. However, this line of defense is about as effective as saying that in some regards one has been unfaithful to one’s spouse, but in other regards one has perfectly kept their marital vows.”
Notre Dame sold its soul to Mephistopheles in 1984 when it provided a platform for New York Governor Mario Cuomo to make an announcement that Catholic politicians could be personally “opposed to abortion while promoting it through the public office held by them.”
In May 2009, Notre Dame invited President Obama, who had vigorously endorsed abortion rights legislation in campaign speeches, to be the commencement speaker and to receive and honorary degree of Doctor of Laws.
Although 80% of Catholic bishops spoke out against the university, Notre Dame remained defiant. Likewise, a petition signed by 350,000 Catholics calling for Notre Dame to rescind the invitation was ignored.
Obama was invited to Notre Dame despite the fact that in 2004, the Catholic bishops of the United States had issued a statement on “Catholics in Political Life,” in which it was declared that Catholic institutions should not honor political leaders who act in defiance of Catholic moral principles.
In Washington, D.C., another Catholic institution, Georgetown, boasts on its website that it is “deeply rooted in the Catholic faith.”
But before his death on January 12, 2017, novelist William Peter Blatty, a Georgetown alumnus and author of The Exorcist (1971), as well as numerous other books, asked the Cardinal Newman Society there to gather a canonical petition to address the secularization of Georgetown.
The petition mentioned a professor who was also an associate director for Planned Parenthood. It also highlighted another professor who was a policy attorney for a pro-abortion group, and yet another professor who was vocal in his support for physician-assisted suicide.
It also called attention to an active priest in a same sex marriage in violation of his vows.
While the Vatican admitted that the Blatty-inspired petition was a “well founded complaint,” it did not do what Batty wanted it to do: strip Georgetown of its Catholic and Jesuit label.
Meanwhile, in the Philadelphia area, Villanova University, a Catholic school under Augustinian auspices, has declared itself ready to embrace every cultural oddity the Left has to offer.
A university guide issued in 2022 introduces Villanova faculty and staff to the best practices for being gender inclusive in the university’s work spaces and classrooms—“especially for those who identify within transgender, nonbinary, gender nonconforming, and/or gender questioning communities.”
Villanova’s so-called Gender Inclusive Practices Guide is the brainchild of the school’s Office of Diversity, Equity and Inclusion and Gender & Women’s Studies department. It advises students to “Carefully review your course rosters and employee records for name and pronoun designations.”
The guide also advises that should a faculty member misgender someone, he or she should “acknowledge mistakes and correct yourself swiftly.”
Faculty members are also expected to “politely intervene when misgendering occurs” in their presence.
With this new secular orthodoxy now firmly locked into the Villanova canon, it’s anybody’s guess whether Villanova’s venerable Augustinian priests–who still dress in traditional habits, by the way– consider ‘misgendering’ a sin on a par with the sins traditionally heard in the confessional.