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Gonzaga University: Catholics Need Not Apply?


Matthew Archbold - published on 10/11/13

Professors at Gonzaga University have no idea what the ratio of Catholic to non-Catholic teachers is, in part because the Jesuit college has strayed far from its Catholic roots.

A parent recently asked a Gonzaga University professor about the ratio of Catholic to non-Catholic teachers at the Jesuit college.
He had no idea.

And it may just be that nobody does. Dr. Eric Cunningham recently recounted this conversation on the 1887 Trust website—an organization committed to restoring Gonzaga’s Catholic identity—that he believed Catholic faculty were most likely in the minority at the university.

Ex corde Ecclesiae, one of Bl. John Paul II’s apostolic constitutions, states that, “In order not to endanger the Catholic identity of the University or Institute of Higher Studies, the number of non-Catholic teachers should not be allowed to constitute a majority within the Institution, which is and must remain Catholic.”

And while Gonzaga states in its brochure that it is committed to “mission-centered hiring,” those words have very little real world application, according to Cunningham, who said his religious beliefs were never raised as an issue when he was hired. He added that over the last ten years he’s been involved in faculty-hiring decisions and he can’t recall it ever being raised as a critical issue at all.

Cunningham believes he knows why. After speaking with employees of several offices, including Human Resources and the Office of Mission, as well as others, he made a very interesting discovery.  Contacts in those departments shared that due to a combination of the Equal Employment Opportunity guidelines and a “Jesuit commitment to ecumenism and interreligious dialogue,” potential hires were never asked about their faith in any form.

There is ample evidence that Gonzaga has strayed far from its Catholic roots. As The Cardinal Newman Society has reported, Gonzaga has agreed to provide coverage for contraceptives, abortifacients and sterilization procedures as the federal HHS mandate requires, even as other Catholic colleges and universities battle the mandate in court. In fact, sadly, not one Jesuit college or university has taken the Obama administration to court over the mandate. Also, in recent years, Gonzaga has hosted population control advocates like New York Times writer Tom Friedman, primatologist Jane Goodall and Archbishop Desmond Tutu.

“I do believe that authentic Catholic identity is dependent on preservation of Catholic culture by, for, and of employees who understand, promote, and practice the faith upon which our institution was founded,” Cunningham said. “If Gonzaga does not take measurable steps to increase and hold the Catholic center of our community in future hiring, we may find soon that we have no good reason to call ourselves Catholic.”

The website of the 1887 Trust can be found by clicking here.

Originally published by The Cardinal Newman Society’s Catholic Education Daily on 10 October 2013.

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