It's quite understandable that liberals would pounce on anything they perceived as potentially threatening their stranglehold on interpreting the phrase "social justice." This is especially true of U.S. catholic liberals who have hijacked the Church's social teaching, to the point that most of them believe they are its sole and authentic interpreters...what The Motley Monk calls the "Magisterium of the Stormy Petrils." These ideologues believe that wealth redistribution of the Marxian faith is writ large on almost every page of scripture and dismiss most Church teaching, its social teaching being the lone exception.
This belief has inspired a group liberal catholic theologians, professors, academic administrators, and social justice types--the stormiest of the Stormy Petrils--to write a letter to CUA's President and the Dean of its Business School decrying a $1M gift they accepted from the Charles Koch Foundation to hire visiting professors for CUA's business school. The Siren song in this particular soap opera is that the gift is one of filthy lucre, of ill-gotten gain. The Stormy Petrils are convinced the Koch brothers have plundered innocents to fill their personal coffers to overflowing.
Here's the thesis:
The Koch brothers are billionaire industrialists who fund organizations
that advance public policies that directly contradict Catholic teaching
on a range of moral issues from economic justice to environmental
stewardship. As you well know, Catholic social teaching articulates
a positive role for government, an indispensable role for unions, just
tax policies, and the need for prudent regulation of financial markets
in service of the common good. We are concerned that by accepting
such a donation you send a confusing message to Catholic students
and other faithful Catholics that the Koch brothers’ anti-government,
Tea Party ideology has the blessing of a university sanctioned by
Well, that just about says it all, doesn't it?
In effect the Stormy Petrils are demanding: "Don't you take that $1M because you will be sullying yourself and your beloved institution. And that's to say nothing about your students and all of those other faithful Catholics who will be confused by granting your implicit imprimatur to these evil industrialists."
Poor President Garvey and Dean Abela. Reading the contents of this missive shot across their institution's port bow, they surely must have been quaking in their boots!
But, what's this The Motley Monk has read? Could it be "push back"?
A statement CUA issued challenged the appropriateness of the Stormy Petril's missive:
The letter is presumptuous on two counts. First, its authors cast
themselves as arbiters of political correctness regarding Charles
Koch Foundation grants. They judge the foundation’s support of
the arts and culture to be "noble philanthropic work"; its underwriting
of grants to universities elicits their "serious concerns." Second they
seek to instruct the Catholic University of America’s leaders about
Catholic social teaching, and do so in a manner that redefines the
Church’s teaching to suit their own political preferences. (italics
added) We are confident that our faculty and academic leadership
are well versed in Catholic social teaching and well equipped to
apply it. We created a school of business and economics for the
express purpose of promoting respect for the human person in
economic life, based on the principles of solidarity, subsidiarity,
human dignity, and the common good. The aim of the Charles Koch
Foundation grant—to support research into principled entrepreneurship
—is fully consonant with Catholic social teaching. On that point
the letter’s authors are strangely silent.
In effect CUA officials are saying "Stuff this in your pipe and smoke it!" except that the Stormy Petrils live in federally-enforced, smoke-free bubbles.
The Motley Monk says: "Hooray for CUA"!
Someone in a position of authority in a Catholic university has finally exhibited the intestinal fortitude to challenge the Magisterium of the Stormy Petrils and their decades-long assault of capitalism! The tide may not have turned, but it sure is refreshing to read a well-reasoned defense of its principles as well as the purpose served by a Catholic school of business and economics. Plus that very well-deserved slap in the face of all of those Stormy Petrils who want to meddle in CUA's internal affairs! As Jack Nicholson once noted: "This is as good as it gets!"
Perusing the list of notable Stormy Petrils who signed the letter, The Motley Monk is left wondering whether they couldn't get enough faculty at CUA to sign their missive so as to give it a patina of legitimacy?
Perhaps the Stormy Petrils might respond that faculty at CUA live in such fear of the Garvey regime, its henchmen, and their use of thuggish, gangster tactics--probably learned at the feet of the Koch brothers--that those poor, oppressed faculty fear for their jobs were they to sign their names on the dotted line.
In sum: No martyrs need sign up to join the ranks of the Stormy Petrils because the storm troopers are on their way to save the day.
Let the discussion begin...
To read the Stormy Petrils' letter, click on the following link:
To read CUA's statement in response to the Stormy Petrils' letter, click on the following link: