Saturday, December 8, 2007

More controversy at St. Thomas

I find myself blogging quite a bit lately on my alma mater, the University of St. Thomas. I recently posted my reflections on their choice of a controversial common text. A month ago, I also noted their choice to remove the sitting archbishop of Minneapolis/St. Paul as ex-officio chairman of the board. What this does, I wrote, is sever the official tie St. Thomas has with the Catholic Church -- certainly a scary thing if one hopes St. Thomas continues to function as a Catholic university.

A few days ago, the Minneapolis Star Tribune published a column by Katherine Kersten titled, Battle for the Soul of St. Thomas takes a Turn for the Worse. I thought Kersten did a good job of summarizing the concerns of alumni like me, who want St. Thomas to remain Catholic and see an official connection with the Church as essential.

Today, however, Archbishop Harry Flynn took issue with her column in a letter to the editor. He blasted her failure to include a part of his official statement that says the board will always include bishops or priests. He wrote, "Any rumors or speculation about the 'de-Catholicization of the University of St. Thomas are ill-founded, inaccurate and ludicrous."

While Kersten probably should have included Archbishop Flynn's claim in her column, I don't see how the archbishop can make a promise that bishops or priests will always be on the board. If you read the bylaws, it seems that this "fact" is not written in stone. Is it word of mouth? If so, it will be forgotten as quickly as the next generation or the newest anti-Catholic ideology. I don't see how an assurance that St. Thomas will be Catholic makes the university Catholic. These things have to be written in stone.

If the archbishop could present evidence that this will be the case, I would be assured. Until that happens, I feel the archbishop's letter, unfortunately, said nothing at all. Until then, any absolute guarantee that St. Thomas will remain Catholic seems ill-founded, inaccurate and ludicrous.

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