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Professor: ‘Gonzaga Should Cease Confusing Catholicism with the Tenets of Secular Progressive Materialism’

Jeffrey Bruno

Kelly Conroy - published on 11/29/13

A Gonzaga professor recently questioned why so-called “diversity” seems to mean allowance for every possible viewpoint except faithful Catholicism.

A Gonzaga professor recently questioned why so-called “diversity” seems to mean allowance for every possible viewpoint except faithful Catholicism.

“What if we said that if [Gonzaga University] fails to preserve a space for the flourishing of doctrinal Catholicism, it will be in violation of every good tenet of diversity politics known to the multicultural world?” asked Dr. Eric Cunningham in the pages of the student newspaper, The Gonzaga Bulletin. “It seems to me that if an institution wants to preserve an authentically diverse environment, it has to promote a multiplicity of authentic cultures—doctrinal Catholicism included.”

Earlier this year, Gonzaga’s commitment to diversity seemed to reach its limits when student activities officials at the school decided the Knights of Columbus did not qualify for club status since it did not allow women or non-Catholics as members. After that decision became public through stories by Catholic Education Daily and others, university president Thayne McCulloh overturned that decision.

Cunningham, who is an associate professor of history and assistant director of Catholic studies for Gonzaga, said that if Gonzaga chooses to be a “diverse” university, it should also strive to be as accurate when teaching the Catholic faith in the classroom as it is when teaching economics, physics, feminism, or Marxism.

“If we ignore, eliminate or misrepresent Catholic teaching—or replace Catholic doctrine with subjective interpretations in those areas of curriculum or policy that we call ‘Catholic’—we will be guilty not only of practicing intellectual dishonesty, but of enforcing the oppression that results when the distinctions between free and autonomous entities are blurred for the sake of political homogeneity,” he said. “We would not insult a Muslim in our community by suggesting that because Catholics and Muslims worship the same God, and ‘submit’ to God’s will, that Islam and Catholicism are really the same thing.”

He said that if diversity is truly the aim of the university, Gonzaga should cease confusing Catholicism with the tenets of secular progressive materialism. Cunningham implored the university to truly be open-minded about what true diversity would demand. “For the sake of diversity, and giving due respect to the Catholic minority at GU,” he said, “let us commit ourselves to an honest and appreciative representation of Catholic theology and practices.”

Dr. Cunningham wrote that while the modern Catholic university teaches many subjects and viewpoints, he added “as a Catholic university we are morally and intellectually obligated to teach and promote the Catholic faith, objectively—as defined in the Catechism of the Catholic faith—and authorized by the Roman Magisterium.”

Cunningham further stated that that the “context and ground” of all the disciplines of study in a Catholic university should be the Faith.

He said, “The day we cease to do that—and I would say that day is demonstrably past—we are no longer a Catholic university by any objective standard that the Catholic Church recognizes in defining its universities.”

Originally published by The Cardinal Newman Society's Catholic Education Daily on 27 November 2013.

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