Many of you have probably seen the news that Catholic
University of America has appointed Boston College Law School Dean, John Garvey, to be the new president. Fortunately, sources like Catholic Culture and Pewsitter came out quickly letting everyone know about Dean Garvey’s troubling record on failing to defend Catholic teachings. But every report we have seen still is missing a few things, so we’d like to fill in the rest of the story. Even though this is slightly off-topic, when someone from Boston has a history of failure to uphold Church teachings, you can predict that Fr. Bryan Hehir and probably Cardinal Sean O’Malley are also involved, and this story is no exception.
Catholic Culture’s piece “Catholic U’s new president: Law school dean who awarded honorary degree to abortion proponent” describes how Dean Garvey defied USCCB recommendations and honored the pro-abortion Rep. Edward Markey with an honorary degree in 2007, incurring the public criticism of the Cardinal Newman Society. It also cites his $1,750 in personal contributions to pro-abortion Sen. John Kerry:
According to federal election records, Mr. Garvey made three donations to Massachusetts Senator John Kerry, whose support for abortion led 14 bishops to state during the 2004 presidential campaign that they would deny him Holy Communion. In June 2002, Mr. Garvey donated $250 to the Kerry Committee; in March 2003, he donated $1,000 to John Kerry for President, Inc.; and in April 2004, he donated $500 to John Kerry for President, Inc
Maybe Dean Garvey’s history filled all of the available space in the article, but there are several things they missed.
First, Dean Garvey muddled the Church’s teachings on marriage to the Law School in September of 2009 by his lackluster defense of law school professor, Scott Fitzgibbon, who appeared in an ad promoting traditional marriage in Maine. Initially Garvey said the prof had the right to represent himself personally but then, as reported in LifeSite News, after faculty complained he welcomed faculty opposition to Church teachings, resulting in “Boston College Law School in Disarray Over Prof’s Defense of Marriage“:
Rather than praising Fitzgibbon’s public defense of a Catholic teaching, Dean Garvey wrote that Fitzgibbon’s “public statements represent his own opinions … and do not state any official position of Boston College Law School.”
We also have faculty members who hold a contrary view, which they too are free to express publicly,” he wrote. “Many have done so while referring to themselves as BC Law professors. One of them has publicly led the fight to oppose the Solomon Amendment on the grounds that it is an affront to gay and lesbian students and prospective members of the U.S. military. Others have taken controversial positions on such subjects as abortion, euthanasia, and the treatment of detainees.”
Three days after Fitzgibbon’s pro-traditional marriage ad aired, a group of 76 “Individual Faculty and Administrators at Boston College Law School,” including Dean Garvey, issued the following statement : “The undersigned members of the faculty and administration at Boston College Law School feel that it is important to reaffirm our belief in the equality of all of our students. We are proud of the fact that Boston College Law School was one of the first law schools in the country to include sexual orientation in its non-discrimination pledge, and we reaffirm our commitment to making our institution a welcome and safe place for all students, including LGBT students.”
This blogger asked, “Are They Going To Rename the Law School After Judas Iscariot? “He is basically saying that a law school at what presents itself as a Catholic College does not uphold Church teachings as it is supposed to according to Ex Corde Ecclesia and has denied them. In other words, it has betrayed its mission to be an authentically Catholic college.”
Here’s at least one connection to Fr. Bryan Hehir. In 2005, Fr. Hehir chaired the search committee that selected the new Executive Director of the Mass Catholic Conference, Ed Saunders, despite the fact that Saunders had given personal contributions to politicians that opposed the Church on abortion and gay marriage. The Catholic Conference is the legislative lobbying arm representing the 4 bishops in Massachusetts, and it has reported functionally under Fr. Hehir since late 2004. Dean Garvey was also on the search committee. Here’s what was reported initially when the Saunders appointment was first announced:
Over the last several years, the bishops have faced increasing difficulty influencing public policy, with their credibility tarnished by the clergy sexual abuse scandal and their legislative agenda dominated by high-profile failures: the church’s unsuccessful efforts to stop passage of the same-sex marriage and embryonic stem cell research bills.
In the process of hiring Saunders, the bishops have made it clear that they expect the church’s legislative agenda to be broader, reflecting the church’s longstanding interest in social policy.
Whenever we hear “broadening the interest to include social policy” and Fr. Bryan Hehir, we can predict what that means. Shortly thereafter, the proverbial doo-doo hit the fan after it became known (“Conservative Catholics question past donations by bishops’ lobbyist“) that Saunders had given the maximum contribution allowed by law to a number of politicians who supported abortion and gay marriage–including voting against the Church on the then-active constitutional amendment to ban gay marriage. Those darned “conservative Catholics” always have to muck things up for the Archdiocese of Boston by airing their dirty laundry in public. Yes, folks, Dean John Garvey was one of the members of the search committee who approved Saunders’ appointment, along with Bryan Hehir who led the search. Several conservative Catholics reported at the time that they applied for the position but were not granted an interview.
Speaking of committees that approve appointments of people for key leadership roles, we should not overlook the role of Boston’s own Cardinal Sean O’Malley in the naming of Dean Garvey to head Catholic University. As the Cardinal reported in his most recent blog (filled with pictures and stories of his travels, networking and activities everywhere else but Boston), he is on the board of directors at Catholic University and voted on selection of the new president:
As I mentioned earlier, following the celebration at the cathedral my hope had been to be able to travel to Rome to be with the Holy Father for the closing of the Year for Priests. However, I was needed in Washington because the board of directors at Catholic University had to come together to select a new president. We are very pleased with the wonderful caliber of the candidates who applied for the position and we look forward to the announcement of the new president in the near future.
Today, Cardinal O’Malley came out with his own statement about Dean Garvey’s appointment:
His commitment to the mission of Catholic education and dedication to exceptional academic achievement will be of great benefit to the University and its students and faculty.”
So Boston’s Cardinal O’Malley continues his own well-established track record of hiring or supporting the hiring of heterodox Catholics to key roles in the Church.
We’ll end with a post on this same topic from the wonderfully outspoken Bishop Emeritus Rene Gracida of Corpus Christi, who wrote yesterday, the “Boston virus continues to spread.”
Beginning with the scandal of the funeral liturgy for Sen. Edward Kennedy, I have posted quite a few posts pointing out the sad state of affairs in Massachusetts, especially in Boston.
For years now, it has been apparent that the state of the Catholic Faith as it is lived and manifested in the public activity of prominent Catholics in Boston is truly deplorable.
Ordinarily I would not be commenting on the Catholicism of Bostonians any more than I would comment on the Catholicism of any other diocese or archdiocese in the United States, except that a significant number of national leaders hail from Boston and when they bring their heterodox religious to the Nation’s Capitol their influence is magnified far out of proportion to what it should normally be. The most recent case in point is the appointment of Dean John H. Garvey of Boston College Law School as the new President of the Catholic University of America in Washington.
His appointment was only announced today and already it has begun to produce negative reactions from Catholics, clergy and lay, who love and value the role the University has played in the history of the Church in the United States.
It is beyond my understanding to know how the appointment could have been decided upon by the bishops and cardinals who constitute the Board of Trustees of the University.
Surely the writings, speeches and actions of Dean Garvey were researched by the Selection Committee and eventually by the full Board.
How is it possible that the Board could have chosen a man whose views on the nature of the relationship between a Catholic university and the Church were so questionable.
His views seem to be opposed to the spirit of all that Pope Benedict XVI has said and written about secularism and relativism.
So many of his views seem to be opposed to so many of the public declarations of the NCCB and the USCC.
It would almost seem that the approval was given by the Secretary of State or by the Congregation for Christian Education without the knowledge of the Holy Father.
What is particularly baffling is how the assent to the appointment by the Holy See could have been obtained in view of the fact that the University if a Pontifical University under the jurisdiction of the Holy See.
I can only hope and pray that before Dean Garvey is actually installed as President of The Catholic University of America pressure from loyal, faithful and concerned Catholics, especially alumni of the University, will have persuaded either Dean Garvey to decline to be installed, the Board to withdraw appointment, or the Holy See to withdraw its approval.
Yes folks, the Boston virus continues to spread. Apologies for the side-trip off our main topic, but no one else seems to be sharing the “big picture” and we thought our faithful readers should know it.