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Hephaestus

Legit or Not? Pro-Choice Feminist Working at Catholic Girls' High School

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Heph -- I'm fine with agreeing to disagree, and I understand your point about the importance of abortion to American bishops. But I wouldn't dream of telling a fellow parishioner that he or she was anything other than Catholic. Like I said, religious identity is a matter of faith.

 

That said, there doesn't seem to be a good reason for the school in question to fire El. She holds "pro-choice" positions; so what? As Ben said, it appears she doesn't proselytize those particular views. Your original post calls her employment into question because she is "an avowed feminist." Shouldn't an employee at a girls' school--and especially a psychological counselor--believe in the empowerment of women? And how is feminism at odds with the beliefs of the Catholic Church? "There is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

 

If telling girls that they have just as much place in power as men is like giving them a coupon for another church, then it would seem that we need to reexamine the kind of pizza we're selling.

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Yes, let's fire someone undoubtedly qualified to advise young women because they have a set of political beliefs which differs with those held by her employer. Smacks of "If you don't like 'Merica, you can get out!" type logic.

 

But it's not America, it's the Church. The Church is a private institution that is not paid for by taxpayer money. You can certainly practice Buddhism in America, but what if you taught Buddhism in a Catholic Church? Don't you think the Church would have the right to dismiss you?

 

If she's not proselytizing, there's no problem. I imagine she doesn't. If she were, she probably would've been terminated already.

 

She told me specifically that she discusses reproductive freedoms with these girls. She also told me that she very much believed that the Church's hierarchy is a joke, the rules are a joke, Catechism is a joke, etc. Proselytizing? I wouldn't go that far. But I am quite certain that these issues come to her office without her having to actively pursue them.

 

EDIT: Just re-read OP. She's a guidance counselor? Somehow I don't think her having a doctrinal difference of opinion with the church comes up much when she's helping teenagers make sure they meet their graduation requirements.

 

She is a psych counselor to Catholic High School girls. If I said 'guidance counselor' up above, I misspoke (it's been such a long time since I've been in high school - I probably forgot what a guidance counselor even was. No, no, she is definitely a psych counselor. My guess is that the issue of abortion, contraception, sexuality, comes to her office on a day in and day out basis, and some of the things she mentioned to me affirm this fact.

 

Heph -- I'm fine with agreeing to disagree, and I understand your point about the importance of abortion to American bishops. But I wouldn't dream of telling a fellow parishioner that he or she was anything other than Catholic. Like I said, religious identity is a matter of faith.

 

I saw a car with a bumper sticker about 10 days ago that said 'if you're pro-choice, you aren't Catholic.' I couldn't imagine seeing myself actually getting into it that much with people either, which is why we have Cross-Ex.com - to discuss (in my case anonymously) issues that I wouldn't bring up in a classroom or even a barroom. Deep down, I agree though. The Catholic Church considers it a mortal sin. If you feel that this means that the Catholic Church is anti-woman, or mistaken in it's conclusions about reproductive freedoms, than I would seriously consider another church.

 

I understand the distinction you are drawing between considering a religion a faith versus considering it more contingent upon, I guess, behavior. I recall going to church and annually, or maybe semi-annually, the priest would read a responsorial for the parishioners to renew their faith. It would ask 'Do you believe in Jesus Christ, son of God. Do you believe that he was crucified and died, that he rose on the third day? Do you believe in Satan? Do you reject Satan and all his works? ' etc., etc.. I count these among the questions of faith that you allude to. Would the Church not consider abortion one of Satan's works? As cartoonish as that might sound, I believe that answer to that question is likely yes.

 

Furthermore, I am not quite so sure that being Catholic is merely a question of faith. I know that I read about a lesbian that got married to her lifelong female partner, and was dismissed from teaching gym at a Catholic school. She made a lot of the same arguments I heard earlier in the post about hypocrisy. There were other teachers that used contraception. There were teachers that had extra-marital affairs. Are not these the same thing? I believe that one of the answers to this question lies in whether it's perceived that a change of heart is likely. Here's what I mean:

 

I believe that a priest would grant forgiveness to a woman if she had an abortion. During confession, it's likely that the priest would ask if the woman has examined her conscience, and has accepted that what she did was wrong. At that stage, the mortal sin could be forgiven, and she could accept communion, etc. If you are a lesbian, and you get married to a female partner, you are giving a signal that you are pretty much locked into a world view that is at odds with the Church. I think you are saying to the world that you are living a life that is not something the Church or conservatives in the church adhere to. Now, getting an advanced degree in feminist studies is close to the same. I recently read about a female playwright that got a bad review from one of her plays. She made mention during the course of her interview that she had come across some feminists that were working in the Church as teachers, counselors, editors, etc. She indicated that these women had long since abandoned their faiths, and had no interest in being part of the Church other than to advance a feminist agenda. Like El, they regarded the Church's hierarchy and it's view on reproductive freedom, as simply a joke.

 

That said, there doesn't seem to be a good reason for the school in question to fire El. She holds "pro-choice" positions; so what? As Ben said, it appears she doesn't proselytize those particular views. Your original post calls her employment into question because she is "an avowed feminist." Shouldn't an employee at a girls' school--and especially a psychological counselor--believe in the empowerment of women? And how is feminism at odds with the beliefs of the Catholic Church? "There is neither male nor female, for you are all one in Christ Jesus."

 

How many pro-life feminists do you know?

 

I know that I am all for the empowerment of women, but what this means in almost every solitary instance, is the assertion of reproductive freedoms such as abortion. It's truly a tragic confluence. I most certainly would like to see women do well, to achieve their highest potential, to obtain that coveted equal share of the top 5% tax bracket for individuals in the country. They are well on their way. I don't conflate those two issues, though. There is the value of self actualization, and then there is the question of ethics, specifically sexual ones. It's horrible how these two very different matters get mixed up. It's horrible that seeing abortion as license is equated with 'not thinking for oneself.' In fact, I bet that there are a lot of women out there that don't achieve their potential because they associate success and assertiveness with having a less-than-Catholic interpretation of sexual morality.

 

If telling girls that they have just as much place in power as men is like giving them a coupon for another church, then it would seem that we need to reexamine the kind of pizza we're selling.

 

Happiness, success, self-actualization is not a coupon to Papa John's, but giving the green light on abortions most certainly is.

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Former Michigan Governor Jennifer Granholm is catholic and prochoice and went to my church. One day before mass a prolife group stood outside with signs that essentially called her a hypocrite. It was one of the most awkward things Ive ever seen.

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Also Ian, does Depaul make you take Catholic Law classes, where they study the relationship of church doctrine to american law? Cuz I know Notre Dame does.

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But it's not America, it's the Church. The Church is a private institution that is not paid for by taxpayer money. You can certainly practice Buddhism in America, but what if you taught Buddhism in a Catholic Church? Don't you think the Church would have the right to dismiss you?

No, it's a school. I'm pretty sure their church is their church. Many catholic schools also teach theology classes that include Buddhism. Many also employ non-catholic teachers/staff. Because, get this, it's a school.

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Someone said earlier in this thread that if you call yourself a Catholic, you are. I only skimmed the thread so pardon me if this has already been addressed, but that doesn't make sense to me.

 

The simplest way for me to explain is through analogies. If someone who doesn't believe in evolution calls themself a Darwinian, that doesn't make sense. If someone who doesn't believe in Buddhist principles calls himself a Buddhist, that doesn't make sense.

 

A Catholic is someone who believes in Catholic principles. If we determine that advocating abortion contradicts Catholic principles, then someone who advocates abortion is not Catholic. The mechanism for determining this should be up for debate, but I think that this distinction is probably relevant to the original question of the thread.

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If someone who doesn't believe in evolution calls themself a Darwinian, that doesn't make sense. If someone who doesn't believe in Buddhist principles calls himself a Buddhist, that doesn't make sense.

 

A Catholic is someone who believes in Catholic principles.

I'm not sure that I agree. I'll concede the point about Darwinism, but I think that Catholicism is a bit more complicated.

 

First, let's consider the reverse case. If we were to determine a set of Catholic principles (say, belief in Jesus Christ as God, belief in the authority of the Pope, opposition to abortion) and we were to meet someone who for whatever reason accepts those principles but has never identified as a member of the Catholic Church, it would be awfully strange for us to try to convince that person that she is Catholic. It's hard to conceive of such a case because the Catholic Church is well-known around the world. But if you were approached by someone from the other side of the planet, interrogated about your views, and then informed, "Guess what! You're a member of the Zahooligan Church!", you'd find that both confusing and inaccurate.

 

For the purposes of this discussion, the major distinction between Darwinism and Catholicism is that "Darwinism" has come to represent a single belief (the belief that evolution, as explained by Darwin, is a naturally occurring phenomenon) while Catholicism is an organized religion. That means that the Church has its own mechanisms for determining who belongs and who does not: the sacraments of Baptism and Confirmation.

 

So we have two opposing views: my view, which is that a "Catholic" is someone who has been baptized and confirmed as a member of the Catholic Church, and Heph's view that a "Catholic" is someone who adheres to the papal bulls and the positions codified by the Pope and the bishops. These aren't mutually exclusive, and I think a reasonable argument can be made that Catholicism requires both (indeed, I imagine that Heph would agree that to be Catholic one must be baptized in our Church). However, I think that the initiation standard is a better one because (1) it's what the Church uses and (2) I still see the agreement standard as infinitely regressive. When applied, it becomes extremely steep extremely quickly: Do you agree with the Church's view on abortion? How about homosexuality? How about immigration? How about evolution? How about social welfare? Do you tithe ten percent of your earnings? No? Well then you're not Catholic!

Edited by TheGreatInstigator

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I agree, my post was only trying to point out the flaw with the agreement standard, not to do anything else. I understand that my position looked differently than I meant it to, sorry about that.

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A Catholic is someone who believes in Catholic principles. If we determine that advocating abortion contradicts Catholic principles, then someone who advocates abortion is not Catholic. The mechanism for determining this should be up for debate, but I think that this distinction is probably relevant to the original question of the thread.

 

I think the best analogy is political affiliation. I may believe in many tenets of the Democratic party's platform, but not all of them. Yet, if I align more closely with the Democratic party than any other party, it would make sense to consider myself a Democrat (even if I were pro-life, anti-union, or against the health care bill).

 

Similarly, although Heph and many others considers opposition to abortion to be a major tenet of Catholic faith, there are people who align closer with Catholicism than any other religion -- and who generally consider themselves to have Catholic values -- who do not think that their opinion on abortion, by itself, is a disqualifying issue of faith.

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How many pro-life feminists do you know?

 

I know that I am all for the empowerment of women, but what this means in almost every solitary instance, is the assertion of reproductive freedoms such as abortion. It's truly a tragic confluence. I most certainly would like to see women do well, to achieve their highest potential, to obtain that coveted equal share of the top 5% tax bracket for individuals in the country. They are well on their way. I don't conflate those two issues, though. There is the value of self actualization, and then there is the question of ethics, specifically sexual ones. It's horrible how these two very different matters get mixed up. It's horrible that seeing abortion as license is equated with 'not thinking for oneself.' In fact, I bet that there are a lot of women out there that don't achieve their potential because they associate success and assertiveness with having a less-than-Catholic interpretation of sexual morality.

 

This is probably the most interesting block of text in this thread to me. I've never really understood why being a "feminist" requires also ascribing to the "pro-choice" position.

 

Here's a challenge for you, posters of cross-x:

Convince me that abortion is good for the human person, and more specifically, that abortion is good for women [assuming normal circumstances. That is, no special medical risks for the mother. Imagine that she's....twenty years old, single, enrolled full time at college, and working part time waiting tables. Maybe that's a little too "normal," but let's run with it for a while.] When I consider the risk of things like post-abortive depression and weigh them against the financial burden of being a single mother or being pregnant, I can't see why the abortion would even be desirable...

 

Prove me wrong.

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This is probably the most interesting block of text in this thread to me. I've never really understood why being a "feminist" requires also ascribing to the "pro-choice" position.

 

Here's a challenge for you, posters of cross-x:

Convince me that abortion is good for the human person, and more specifically, that abortion is good for women [assuming normal circumstances. That is, no special medical risks for the mother. Imagine that she's....twenty years old, single, enrolled full time at college, and working part time waiting tables. Maybe that's a little too "normal," but let's run with it for a while.] When I consider the risk of things like post-abortive depression and weigh them against the financial burden of being a single mother or being pregnant, I can't see why the abortion would even be desirable...

 

Prove me wrong.

 

you're being juvenile. no one is going to actually take you up on this because no one except people who are part of the voluntary human extinction movement thinks abortion is "good for the human person" ceteris paribus.

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I've never really understood

 

Here's a challenge for you

 

Convince me

 

I can't see why

 

Prove me wrong

 

It sounds like you've already made your mind up...

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This was just published in our undergrad paper. Seems apropos...

 

http://media.www.depauliaonline.com/media/storage/paper1414/news/2011/04/04/News/Religious.Tolerance.Trumps.Catholic.Roots-3990059.shtml

 

 

Religious tolerance trumps Catholic roots

 

Despite being a faith based Univeristy, DePaul's mission runs deeper than spreading the word

 

By: Rob Larson

Posted: 4/4/11

 

Is DePaul a Catholic school? Of course, sort of.

 

DePaul University is a Catholic institution, and its student body-made up of 16,052 undergraduates, 8,017 graduate students and 1,076 law students, according to the college's website-is well aware of its religious identity. What's more, and perhaps something the students don't know, is that DePaul is not only Catholic, it is the largest Roman Catholic university in the country.

 

Catholicism is evident around DePaul's campus. For example, there is a crucifix on the Monsignor Andrew J. McGowan Science Building, which houses DePaul's biology and chemistry programs; and, of course, there is the St. Vincent DePaul Church on the Lincoln Park campus. Still, some students pay little attention to these symbols.

 

"There are definitely a few things around campus that reminds me that DePaul is a Catholic school. But it really isn't evident unless you look really closely and carefully," said senior Vi Nguyen. "Besides the church, I know that there are a few crosses around campus, but I think we barely notice them."

 

Of the various aspects that make DePaul a Catholic institution, the requirement for all undergraduate students to take two courses in both philosophy and religious studies certainly sticks out. Do the required religious studies courses have to deal with Catholicism? Not at all. Within the Religious Studies Department, there are classes that revolve around practically every conceivable faith-even ones that are no longer practiced, like Greek and Roman mythology-and any of these courses will fulfill the requirement.

 

And speaking of non-Catholic faiths, with campus groups like Hillel and the Muslim Life Center, it can't be said that DePaul's student body is homogeneously Catholic or even Christian. And yet, the school's motto-"I will show you the way of wisdom"-comes directly from the Book of Proverbs. So the real question is, how does DePaul continue to promote itself as a Catholic school yet still manages to be religiously tolerant to students of all faiths (or no faith at all)? In other words, what does it mean to be a Catholic university in 2011?

 

In order to understand the identity of any school, all one has to do is find its mission statement. Here's what DePaul's mission statement has to say:

 

"By reason of its Catholic character, DePaul strives to bring the light of Catholic faith and the treasures of knowledge into a mutually challenging and supportive relationship. It accepts as its corporate responsibility to remain faithful to the Catholic message drawn from authentic religious sources both traditional and contemporary."

 

Seems pretty clear-cut, right? There's more.

 

"On the personal level, DePaul respects the religiously pluralistic composition of its members and endorses the interplay of diverse value systems beneficial to intellectual inquiry. Academic freedom is guaranteed both as an integral part of the university's scholarly and religious heritage, and as an essential condition of effective inquiry and instruction."

 

So how can DePaul honor "the religiously pluralistic composition" of the student body while, at the same time, "bring the light of Catholic faith and the treasures of knowledge into a mutually challenging and supportive relationship?" In order to answer that question, another more complex question needs to be answered: what is a Catholic?

 

"Catholicism is a collective noun. There's dozens of forms of it," said Rev. James Halstead, the Chair of the Religious Studies Program. "At DePaul, if you want a Catholicism that's rigid and rule-bound, we got it. We got the Catholicism for the Catholics who just want spiritual practice but wouldn't know a rule if it hit them in the face. We got the kind of Catholicism for the types of intellectual Catholics who know about the rules of the church, but they don't care about them."

 

In keeping with Rev. Halstead's undefined definition of Catholicism, DePaul's Catholic identity is as difficult to define as the average Catholic's beliefs. But Catholicism aside, how do DePaul's non-Catholic students feel about their school? Abdul-Malik Ryan, the Chaplain for DePaul's chapter of United Muslims Moving Ahead, had an answer.

 

"As to the relationship between Muslim students and the university, I think it is very positive," said Ryan, who was a DePaul student from 1992-1995. "I would say in the last 15 years the identity of the university as a Catholic institution and the profile of Catholic ministry at the university has been strengthened a good deal, and at the same time there has been a consistent growth in the support for Muslim students and other diverse non-Catholic religious groups."

 

And how are Muslim students at DePaul treated throughout campus?

 

In any environment, it is sometimes a challenge to be a minority, and for Muslims in the United States, the last 10 years have been ones where the community often feels under a microscope or burdened by misconceptions promoted in the media or arising out of world events," Ryan said. "Having said that, I am not aware of any significant incidents of Muslim students feeling uncomfortable with the Catholic identity of DePaul."

 

But despite DePaul's willingness to teach those who practice other religions, there are some students who find contention with the school, specifically due to its Catholic background. The most relevant example deals with the Sage Medical Group, the current health service provider at DePaul.

 

According to The DePaulia article written by Gina Nigrelli in 2008, Sage "does not make HIV and STD testing available for students, along with the availability of birth control and contraceptives."

 

So does DePaul stay true to its mission statement, of maintaining a Catholic identity while at the same time being religiously pluralistic? Somehow, yes. But does DePaul hold either of those concepts higher than the other?

 

In an address to the Faculty Council in 2006, Fr. Dennis Holtschneider, DePaul's president, answered that question:

 

"I've received over 10,000 letters, e-mails and phone calls in the past 20 months…for somehow being 'unfaithful' to the Catholic tradition. They would have us become an institution 'of Catholics for Catholics,'" said Holtschneider. "That's not DePaul. It never was. DePaul has always been a place where people of every faith have been welcomed to study and to teach."

 

###

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So we have two opposing views: my view, which is that a "Catholic" is someone who has been baptized and confirmed as a member of the Catholic Church, and Heph's view that a "Catholic" is someone who adheres to the papal bulls and the positions codified by the Pope and the bishops. These aren't mutually exclusive, and I think a reasonable argument can be made that Catholicism requires both (indeed, I imagine that Heph would agree that to be Catholic one must be baptized in our Church). However, I think that the initiation standard is a better one because (1) it's what the Church uses and (2) I still see the agreement standard as infinitely regressive. When applied, it becomes extremely steep extremely quickly: Do you agree with the Church's view on abortion? How about homosexuality? How about immigration? How about evolution? How about social welfare? Do you tithe ten percent of your earnings? No? Well then you're not Catholic!

 

Like you said before, Greg, I think we are clearly at the 'agree to disagree' stage. Two things that are very prominent themes in the Church is that the Church is pro-life, and that the God speaks through the hierarchy. I think things like immigration, how much you tithe, etc., are secondary issues, and I think most priests and bishops would agree.

 

Here's a challenge for you, posters of cross-x:

Convince me that abortion is good for the human person, and more specifically, that abortion is good for women [assuming normal circumstances. That is, no special medical risks for the mother. Imagine that she's....twenty years old, single, enrolled full time at college, and working part time waiting tables. Maybe that's a little too "normal," but let's run with it for a while.] When I consider the risk of things like post-abortive depression and weigh them against the financial burden of being a single mother or being pregnant, I can't see why the abortion would even be desirable.

 

I am glad that you think that my post is important. The thing about you're point here, though, is that you are only taking into consideration the pros and cons of getting an abortion for the woman once it gets to that stage. I think you make some good points, but I think that your argument will bump heads against the notion that the decision, therefore, should be up to the woman. My point is broader than that. What about the women that never got to that stage. What about the women that would never have an unwanted pregnancy for ethical reasons? The women's movement equates abortion rights with strength and liberation. I think that this equation has some very tragic consequences, ones that are perhaps hard to see, but are very powerful.

 

Is DePaul a Catholic school? Of course, sort of.

 

You make a good point, though, because these aren't (for example) just Indian people that are practicing Catholics. These are Hindus. I guess I would have to argue (1) perhaps they shouldn't be allowed in the school. If it's a Catholic school, ask them if they are Catholic before you let them in, and (2) there is a distinction to be drawn between allowing a Hindu on DePaul's college campus and allowing a pro choice feminist to be a psych counselor for 14 year old girls, because (little a) a Hindu faith speaks more to a cultural and ethnic heritage rather than sexual morality, and (little B) the Hindu individual is not advising early teens on pivotal issues at delicate times. I again put myself in the shoes of the parent paying double to send their kids to a Catholic School. What am I more worried about?

 

Let me ask you this, since we are so busy kicking around reducio ad absurdums: Should DePaul have an abortionist provide free abortions in the student health department? Should a Catholic boys school have a gay porn star as a psych counselor for 14 year old boys? If not, why not?

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