Yesterday the University of San Diego rejected the appointment of a pro-choice candidate for the position of theology professor at the university. Moral sobriety is coming back to the Catholic educational institutions slowly in the United States as Catholic institutions and educators realize there is definitively no room for any interpretive flexibility in following the Church’s teachings on the sanctity of human life. Since the papal visit in April to the United States it is becoming very clear that academic freedom in Catholic educational facilities does not include the right to disagree with fundamental Church teachings on any moral , social or ethical level.

Dr. Ruether is a member of, “Catholics for Choice,” a group that routinely looks to offer alternative moral outlooks and positions on such issues as gay rights, same sex marriages, birth control and the rights of women to procure abortions in opposition to Catholic moral teachings. Another issue that is commonly raised by the group is the right Catholic women have to ordination to the priesthood. The Church has consistently taught against this possibility from happening.

The central issue of the matter seems really to center around the ability for Catholics to hold an opinion that is contrary to the opinion of the Church. Since the pontificate of John Paul II, anyone that teaches at a Catholic educational institution has been required to publically declare they will not deviate from Church teachings in the classroom. The oath of fidelity applies to not only the public profession of the Catholic faith in the classroom, but applies to the everyday activities of Catholics everywhere. The bottom line is simply this; Catholic moral teaching is intertwined with the daily lives of faithful Catholics, and adherence to Catholic teachings across the spectrum of faith is simply not optional.

The decision of the University of San Diego to retract the offer of employment to Dr. Ruether is a genuine indication that the American Catholic Church is serious about its campaign to come into line with the universal teachings of the Church. While the general populace is sometimes not in accord with the decisions of the hierarchy, moves such as this one in the Golden State are clearly indicative of the influential message Benedict XVI wields to bring the American flock back to the global fold of traditional Catholicism.

The rejection of Dr. Ruether should also be considered an substantial victory for Pro-life Catholics as they gather support for the political opposition to candidates that proclaim political rhetoric that is contrary to Catholic moral and ethical teachings as well. The Catholic voter influence is a strong one in this upcoming political election period and the battle lines are indeed drawn over Pro-life & Pro-choice issues involving the candidates.

The final appreciation of this rejection is also very definitive. Catholics cannot in any way shape or form embrace political, social or moral stances that are contrary or undermine Catholic teachings. Holding such positions clearly isolates such nominal Catholics from full participation in the Holy Eucharist and requires a true conversion of conscience and reconciliation before they receive any Catholic sacraments. The issue also makes another point very obvious and clear; if you are not totally in union with the teachings of the Universal Church please look for a job somewhere else. Catholic educational, social, pastoral and religious institutions really deserve only faithful believers working in these places. If you are against Catholic teachings on same sex marriages, women’s ordination, birth control, abortion, et cetera, please take your contrarian opinions else where and allow Catholicism to continue effectively preach its moral and ethical message to the world. We don’t need academics undermining the Divine message the Church offers to the world.

Hugh McNichol is a Catholic author and journalist that writes on Catholic topics and issues. Hugh studied both philosophy and theology at Saint Charles Borromeo Seminary in Philadelphia. He writes daily at: http://verbumcarofactumest.blogspot.com & http://catholicsacredarts.com & http://pewsitter.com He writes about Irish Catholic experiences  at http://graysferrygrapevine.blogspot.com  Comments are always welcome @ hugh.mcnichol@trinettc.com

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