What can courts do that most Catholic colleges can’t? Take their employees off the job when they have a conflict of interest. “The trial judge assigned to the legal case involving 88 pro-life activists arrested for demonstrating at the University of Notre Dame recused herself from the case last week,” the Catholic News Agency reported on January 12, 2010. “The activists had demonstrated against the university’s decision to host President Barack Obama as a commencement speaker and award him an honorary degree.”
“Defense attorneys had appealed Judge Jenny Pitts Manier’s ruling denying their request that she recuse herself. In Indiana the standard for recusal states that the judge must be shown to have actual bias or the perception of bias. The defense argued that Judge Manier should recuse herself based on her prior rulings in abortion protest litigation, her husband’s criticism of Catholic pro-life teachings as a tenured philosophy professor at Notre Dame and other factors.”
That husband would be Edward Manier, and it’s not just Catholic doctrine on abortion that he opposes. “Monogamous, fecund, sanctified heterosexual marriage may be totally perverse, while monogamous, generative, genital but childless, homosexual unions may exemplify morally heroic forms of friendship and love,” he once wrote in a paper. “I wrote this short essay as a contribution to the long standing polemic, at Notre Dame, resulting from a paradox or inconsistency in Roman Catholic teaching concerning sexual morality,” he explained. “This teaching combines the fundamental religious imperative of love for all humanity with ecclesiastical documents stating that homosexuality is an ‘objective disorder.’”
“These ecclesiastical documents have, to American ears, an inappropriately clinical tone. It is as if someone highly placed in the Roman Catholic hierarchy were suggesting that Christian love for homosexuals must be like Christian love for alcoholics, as if Catholics should encourage homosexuals to seek help in an appropriately structured twelve step program.”
Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.