Loyola NO invite continues diluting Catholic identity
In a sense, there’s nothing inconsistent about the invitation of Loyola University of New Orleans to talk show host Van Jones for his services as its spring commencement speaker. After all, both hold themselves out as something they are not.
In Jones’ case, for the past dozen years he has positioned himself in the political mainstream, culminating in a high-level appointment to former Pres. Barack Obama’s White House Office months after Obama assumed office. Almost immediately, he found himself out of that job upon the publicizing of his past, which included association with or membership in radical and communist organizations, his support of similar individuals and articulation of communist ideology, and his peddling of 9/11/2001 conspiracy theories alleging U.S. government involvement in causing the horrific event.
Jones was smart enough by the new millennium to stop calling himself a Marxist and trafficking in its rhetoric, following the trend of post-Watergate radicals who realized to increase their influence they had to avoid labels viewed overwhelmingly scorned by the public and to jettison Marxist terminology in their verbiage, all the while restating its concepts in ways less alarming to people. But little else changed with his associations and ideology. Recently, he became host of a CNN program, just after making comments that framed the 2016 election results in racist terms.
This presentation mimics the metamorphosis of Loyola. Following the lead of many American Catholic universities, in the past half-century it has become hardly distinguishable from any public school, creating an ersatz Catholic identity through applying a fig leaf of cafeteria Catholicism that deconstructs the faith to appropriate the aspects it finds useful, then fills in the gap with mostly with politically leftist Pablum, if not mutilated Marxism.
As such, it has run afoul of Church authorities for some time. The typically meek Most Rev. Alfred Hughes, previous Archbishop of New Orleans, scolded the university for honors it bestowed on the Landrieu family because of their unrelenting refusal to make policy decisions supporting a culture of life. Rather than deviation, Loyola’s choices reflect more habit, such as in honoring alumna Kim Gandy, former head of the National Organization of Women that lobbies hard in favor of abortion and who decried the Church’s doctrine against same-sex marriage.
Inviting Jones continues down this path. By aligning himself with and speaking in favor of forces that denigrate the faith and, generally speaking, disparage religious organizations such as the Church part of efforts to oppress the masses, Loyola has no business honoring someone who consorts with such company and giving him an opportunity to provide a coda to many students’ academic careers. It does have that fig leaf: Jones professes religious belief, but in such a fashion so alienated from Catholicism (Luke 12:7), that considering it compatible or even able to provide from another perspective insight into the faith takes a leap of faith.
Unfortunately, this action only will add to Loyola’s financial woes as it finds itself increasingly unable to attract students and families willing to foot its astronomical tuition. As it continues to distance itself from providing an authentic Catholic education, its loss of distinctiveness that otherwise would attract some students makes it so much like other public schools with far lower expenses and more amenities that many students like (sports and social networks) that fewer will want to attend it. Doubling down by showcasing the likes of Jones as a representation of the university’s values isn’t the answer.
Posted by Jeff Sadow at 12:55