Georgetown: Neither Catholic nor a University
A large statue of John Carroll, the first American Catholic bishop, greets visitors entering the main gates of Georgetown University, the school he founded in 1789. Chiseled into the granite on that monument is a fitting, three-word description of that amazing man: Priest -- Patriot -- Prelate. I was privileged to graduate from America’s first Catholic university, but I often wonder today if it is even Catholic at all – and, in a larger sense, is it still a university anymore?
To the first point, Georgetown made headlines this week when student groups lodged an official complaint against a student organization called Love Saxa, which promotes the church’s traditional understanding of sexuality, namely that intercourse should be reserved for a married man and woman. While that view is clearly a minority opinion on just about any campus, including church-founded ones, it conforms with two millennia of Catholic philosophy and Biblical teaching. Yet, today’s snowflake secularists naturally find offense. They have asked the university’s Student Activities Commission to remove the group’s recognition as an approved student club on the grounds — you knew this was coming — that Love Saxa promotes “hatred” and “intolerance.”
Yes, that’s right. We’ve come to the point at which students and faculty at a Catholic institution of higher education inevitably claim that orthodox Catholicism’s “definition of marriage excludes and dehumanizes individuals in the LBGTQ community.”
A hearing that took place Monday adjourned after midnight with no student vote. What are they voting on actually? Official recognition, ostensibly, although what this really is about is banning speech that LBGTQ activists don’t like—and don’t want anyone else to hear. The benefits of recognition by the university, by the way, include a small stipend ($250) and permission to use school facilities. Note, however, that Georgetown fully staffs and supports an LGBTQ Resource Center with offices and eight paid staffers. While I have issues with the maintenance of that center at a supposedly Catholic school, the benefits given to Love Saxa are obviously paltry by comparison.
When it comes to the law, I am fairly libertarian regarding marriage. I’d prefer government have no role at all in granting licenses and that anyone be able to marry whomever they wish. But when it comes to the church, any diminution of traditional marriage represents a betrayal of the very faith we proclaim, and upon which Georgetown was founded.
But outside of faith, there’s another issue in play here: the liberal intolerance that now dominates our campuses and enforces a left-wing orthodoxy at the price of intellectual curiosity and honest discourse. Many of these social justice warriors might be surprised to learn that the Catholic Church, quite literally, invented the idea of universities – and for centuries these great schools helped lift Western civilization through constant inquiry, dialogue, and innovation.
When our universities become protected, insulated indoctrination centers, it’s not just the coddled students who suffer, but society at large. Moreover, we as taxpayers massively subsidize these institutions, including the private ones, and have effectively, therefore, invested in this insidious group-think that creates child-like young adults incapable of taking leadership of our great republic.
In the case of Georgetown specifically, I encourage the administration there to get real: either act like an actual Catholic school, or drop the pretense altogether and declare it to be an independent, secular institution. If Georgetown removes recognition of a student group that merely affirms the teachings of the church, it’s time for John Carroll’s statue to get up off that perch and walk off campus.