Academic Gives Catholics Academic Answer

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

An academic has taken aim at the leading Catholic college president dissenting from the Obama Administration’s latest edict on health care coverage. “John Garvey, president of censured Catholic University of America (CUA), a pontifical university that has a dismal record of aggressively promoting conformity to religious theological dogma over academic freedom, is protesting the government’s alleged encroachment on Catholic and religious institutions across the spectrum of American life,” Peter N. Kirstein writes on the Academe blog. “Beware of university presidents who believe truth is not subject to continuous skepticism and revisionism!”

Kirstein is an historian at St. Xavier University. He never mentions the president’s insistence that Catholic institutions of higher learning, among other Church affiliates, are forced under U. S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) to provide not only birth control and contraceptives, as is commonly reported, but also sterilization and abortifacients free of charge.

Rather, Kirstein, goes off on a riff about how much adjuncts are paid at Catholic universities. Kirstein is vice president of the Illinois Conference of the American Association of University Professors (AAUP).

He ends his blog by chastising CUA for dismissing a renegade Jesuit a quarter of a century ago. “For 22 years the administration of Catholic University of America has been censured (pdf) by the American Association of University Professors,” Kirstein writes. “This hall of shame is directed at out-of-control administrators who use the power of their office to suppress, punish and cajole professors into intellectual conformity.”

“This includes CUA, which removed a tenured, liberal theologian, Reverend Charles E. Curran, from the classroom because he supported contraception and refused to proselytize Roman Catholic theology in the classroom.” Kirstein chairs the Illinois Conference Committee A on Academic Freedom and Tenure.

As William F. Buckley might put it, concerning which a few observations:

  1. CUA is the only Catholic university in North America chartered by the Vatican.
  2. Father Curran taught from his own playbook on many issues.
  3. John Garvey wasn’t president of CUA at the time.

Kirstein himself gets raves from his students, although we do learn from them that, in lectures, he favors fact over opinion and Howard Zinn uber alles:

  • “Topic on one historian was different but rather amazing,” one reviewer on Rate My Professors. Com wrote. “I had not heard of Zinn before and by the end, I was glad I did.”
  • “Course is taught with the perspective of the teacher and is rather unique,” another reviewer noted. “Kirstein’s approach is to use history as a means of developing his own approach to the current situation. If you like classes that are controversial in topics, radical in areas, very discussion oriented, then take him.”
  • “As he says: ‘I teach outside the lines,” another student recounted. “First class in two universities that even mentioned gay issues in class much less abortion and other hot button stuff.”
  • “At times he is overwhelming with his views on race and war issues,” one veteran of his class reflected. “Yet in few classes that i have had does the prof so consistently seek different views.”
  • “He is rather liberal or more but he backs it up with slides and notes,” another noted.

In case you haven’t guessed. These were from his favorable ratings.

Malcolm A. Kline is the Executive Director of Accuracy in Academia.

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