Would Saint Ignatius Be Free to Speak at Loyola U.?

By John Zmirak Published on October 12, 2018

Free speech is a big problem on campus today. Not only at Ivy league and other secular liberal arts colleges. Nor just at big state universities. No, many Christian colleges, including Catholic schools, have begun shutting down discussion. Mind you, it’s not that they’re hunting heresy. Or denying prestigious speaking gigs to activists who oppose their founding missions. For decades, the U.S. Catholic bishops have called on Church-linked schools to reject pro-abortion speakers, except in debates. Many schools defy this order. The scandal is appalling, as bad as if David Duke were invited to address the commencement at Howard University.

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No, in fact these Church-founded schools are restricting student groups, disciplining professors, and censoring speakers who support their actual missions and founding creeds. See Marquette University’s disgraceful persecution and dismissal of a tenured professor for defending Christian marriage against LGBT activism. So the schools are neither serving the traditional liberal ideal of free academic exchange, nor their Christian characters. Instead, they are whoring themselves after the strange gods of Intersectionalism and social pseudo-justice.

Whoring after the strange gods of Intersectionalism and social pseudo-justice.

The New, Secular Inquisitors

Catholic groups such as the Cardinal Newman Society have long held schools accountable for their abandonment of their missions. Now even secular free speech advocates are taking notice. The Foundation for Individual Rights in Education announced its rogue’s gallery of the worst schools for free speech in America. Three of the ten colleges claim to be Catholic:

  • Georgetown, the most prestigious Catholic college in America.
  • DePaul University (Chicago), the largest Catholic university in the U.S.
  • Fordham, the flagship Jesuit school in New York City.

The most outrageous incident to emerge from these three schools? DePaul’s refusal to let orthodox Jewish, pro-life conservative Ben Shapiro, speak on campus. (In fact, the school threatened to arrest him if he appeared.) That raised in my mind a question, which I posed at the time:

Would Vincent de Paul, the Catholic saint for whom the school is named, get to speak at De Paul today? For that matter, would Ignatius Loyola be silenced at Fordham, Georgetown, or a dozen other Jesuit schools? Or would their views on “LGBTQAEIOU” issues make students feel “unsafe”? Would their positions on abortion, contraception, and cohabitation get scored as “microaggressions”? For my Protestant friends out there, at how many schools named for John Wesley would he today be welcome?

Let’s Conduct the Acid Test

In fact, it’s a crucial question. I think we need to find out.

So here’s my proposal. I’d like to see some Catholic donors work with a nationwide conservative campus group. I’d propose this equally to Intercollegiate Studies Institute, Turning Point USA, Young America Foundation, or Students for Liberty. Any or all of them are welcome to steal my idea and use it.

Hire some Catholic academic (hint, hint) to go through the Catholic schools in the U.S. with free speech problems. Then track down the writings of the saint for whom the school is named, or the founder of the order that runs it. And write a stump speech. It should draw on two sources:

The saint’s own words on sexual morality, the sanctity of life, and the duty to obey Church authority in forming one’s conscience. In case there’s not enough there (many truths now considered “controversial” were taken utterly for granted, such as the evil of sodomy and abortion), supplement the saints’ words….

With the binding texts of Church catechisms that were used in the saints’ own day, such as the Catechism of the Council of Trent for St. Ignatius Loyola. And long passages of Sacred Scripture.

The speech should simply juxtapose the insipid or heretical policy statements issued by the school itself on such issues, with the saints’ own words.

Haul the “Saint” Off in Handcuffs

To make this more exciting, the sponsoring group should hire actors to portray the saints, in period costume. Hence a student group at say, Loyola Chicago could announce: “On October 31, come here ‘St. Ignatius Loyola’ speak about LGBT issues and Church authority.” And so on.

Maybe the schools will finally do the honest thing, and rename themselves after the historical figures whom they actually honor now: thinkers like the Marquis de Sade, Hugh Hefner, Che Guevara and Margaret Sanger.

What I’d like to see is whether these Catholic schools would let those speeches take place. Or, as I fully expect, would “Ignatius” get banned from Loyola? He ought to show up anyway, and supportive students should film it as security guards haul the “saint” away in handcuffs. Then the talk should be moved to a local Ramada Inn or coffee shop. Notify alumni and other donors of their alma mater’s policy of arresting the saint whom the school is named for. 

At best? The schools will relax their speech codes, and at least permit Catholic students to repeat the words of the saints and Scripture. At worst? Maybe the schools will finally do the honest thing, and rename themselves after the historical figures whom they actually honor now: thinkers like the Marquis de Sade, Hugh Hefner, Che Guevara and Margaret Sanger.

I hope some Catholics out there are willing to fund this and do this. If you need me to write the speeches, I’m free most weekends. But you’ll have to find someone else to design the costumes.

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