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Friday, October 26, 2018

Franciscan University and the Battle for the Soul of Catholic Higher Education

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Editor's Note: Before posting this article, we reached out to several students and staff members at Franciscan University (FUS) for their input on this. I’m pleased to report that though the threat detailed here by our columnist, Jesse Russell, is quite real, there is, in fact, significantly more pushback on the FUS campus than had initially been reported. In fact, for the moment I’m happy to say that the actual Catholics at FUS are winning the day.  We're posting this article anyway as a means of making it clear to the "good guys"—the Newman Guide schools—that should their unspoken contract with Catholic parents ever be compromised along these lines, we will not hesitate to call for a boycott and, in fact, encourage our followers to withhold all support and pull their kids from these schools. When the president of Ave Maria University (AMU) decided he was going to go after Cardinal Burke and Archbishop Vigano last month not a few of us publicly stood against him. And while it’s true he's now claiming it was his decision not to renew his contract with AMU, the fact remains he will soon be the former president of AMU. The bottom line is this: there is no reason at all to support these small Newman Guide-approved schools other than the most essential reason of all: They still attempt to uphold Catholic dogma and the Church’s moral theology. As soon as they drop that ball, we drop them. So far, FUS seems to be holding the Catholic ground despite a new loony-Left COO. Should that change, we'll let you know and maybe Mr. Gorman can be encouraged to take a prolonged vacation with Mr. Towey.  MJM 

For the past several years, scandals and rumors of scandals have emanated from Catholic institutions of higher learning promoted by The Cardinal Newman Society, an organization founded in the early 1990s when the collective realization among many American Catholics that something had gone terribly wrong at Catholic colleges and universities reached a crisis point.

Seeking to combat the destruction of Catholic higher education, the Cardinal Newman Society states that its mission includes “supporting education that is faithful to the teaching and tradition of the Catholic Church.” In order to provide direction for concerned Catholic parents looking for a truly Catholic college to which they could send their children, since 2007 the Newman Society has issued the “Newman Guide,” a list of Catholic schools which are selected “because of their commitment to a faithful Catholic education.”

Even though the Newman Guide cautions that each institution in the guide is “unique” and has a “special charism,” the overwhelming majority of Catholic parents and prospective students see the guide as a stamp of approval on a school, stating that it is truly Catholic.

It would be inevitable that some students, parents and some faculty and staff at these schools would come away with “bad experiences” or disappointments with these institutions. However, there are increasing rumors and verified reports that these schools are having serious issues, and the specter has been raised that perhaps some schools included in the Newman Guide have been running a smoke and mirrors campaign to draw in Catholic students and protect themselves from criticism.

Your humble author has already treated this matter both in an

he published last year.

However, this current year has produced some strange developments at one of the most prestigious Newman Guide schools: The Franciscan University of Steubenville.

George Neumayr, who has become one of the best gumshoe Catholic journalists in the US, recently published a piece detailing a coup at Franciscan University under the lead of Fr. Sean Sheridan,  TOR, whom, Neumayr claims, is a product of “Wuerlworld,” that is, the rapidly crumbling empire of degeneracy and heresy that had been constructed throughout the Church in America by the now disgraced Donald Cardinal Wuerl—Fr. Sheridan is a graduate of Catholic University, where, according to Neumayr, he came into “contact with Wuerl’s gay mafia.”

Last year, Sheridan appointed Wuerl protégé William Gorman to the position of Franciscan University’s chief operating officer, a position that Neumayr claims is a “de facto executive vice president” at the school. Under the reign of Gorman and Fr. Sheridan, Franciscan University has established a “Diversity and Inclusion Committee,” which is  a cover for undermining Franciscan by promoting the LGBT agenda.

Unfortunately for Gorman and Fr. Sheridan, their pal, Cardinal Wuerl, has undertaken a Luciferian fall from grace—Franciscan has, as of this piece’s composition, yet to take down this gem from Gorman’s bio:

For 14 years, Gorman served in the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C., in a number of positions including the executive director of Evangelization of Family Life, assistant secretary for Parish Life, secretary for Pastoral Ministry and Social Concerns, secretary of the Curia, and associate moderator of the Curia. As associate moderator of the Curia, he reported to Cardinal Donald Wuerl, archbishop of Washington, on the strategic planning and operational initiatives of the archdiocese, which directed and supported 139 churches, 20 corporations, over 3,000 employees, 27,000 students, and 15,000 volunteers. He also directed the archdiocese’s day-to-day central office operations including Catholic Schools, Communications, Development, Pastoral and Social Concerns, Public Affairs, Human Resources, Finance, Information Technology, and Real Estate.

As a FYI to the new, hip and liberal Franciscan University, it might be a good idea to take down a boast that one of your most powerful employees worked intimately with a cardinal under whose watch innumerable young men and women were abused.

Neumayr also notes that under Fr. Sheridan’s watch, the quality of faculty and staff at Franciscan University has gone down the toilet. He quotes a Steubenville professor who claims that “a third of the faculty and administration can be described as orthodox” while a student informed Neumayr that about half the school is opposed to Sheridan and Gorman’s shenanigans.

These figures should give us pause: Franciscan University, for almost forty years, has been the Newman Guide school. Some have even argued that Franciscan was the inspiration for John Paul II’s guide for Catholic college and universities, Ex Corde Ecclesiae

Moreover, even traditionalist critiques of Franciscan have always focused on the weird charismatic stuff, the Novus Ordo Missae, and the promotion of NeoThomism, personalism, and Nouvelle Théologie in the philosophy and theology classes.

No one, even Steubenville’s strongest traditionalist critics, would believe that half or two thirds of the faculty and administration would be in support of degeneracy and the erosion of the Church’s teaching on marriage.

On the other hand, over the past year, there have been hints of a cabal of perverts that have attempted to infiltrate Franciscan University.

In September of last year, LifeSiteNews ran an excellent, samurai-style assassin piece, exposing an instructor in the English department at Franciscan University named Rebecca Bratten Weiss. According Doug Grane, the author of the LifeSite piece, Weiss is the founder of a movement called The New Pro-Life Movement, a left wing organization that folds concern for the unborn with various other leftists causes célèbres a la Cardinal Bernardin’s “Seamless Garment.” Grane further gives evidence that Weiss is a deeply resentful feminist who in her online writings argues for making her students read pornographic portions of vile novels such as Vladimir Nabokov’s Lolita along with a trail of grotesque and bizarre online chatter.

While Weiss’s contract was not renewed at Franciscan, it was revealed to your author that the current chair of the English department, Dr. Stephen Lewis, is jockeying to get Weiss reinstated.

This same source informed your author that the bulk of the resistance to the Sheridan-Gorman regime is largely composed of older professors—many of whom are near the age of retirement. When these professors retire, who will replace them under a Sheridan-Gorman regime at Franciscan University?

The revelations of Neumayr, Grane, as well as information that your author has received suggest that it is not simply the case that Franciscan University has a few bad apples, but rather the corruption at the university is systematic and widespread.

And as the Internet bubbles with rumors, and many concerned parents, students, and former employees of Newman Guide schools sound the alarm, it is increasingly clear that Franciscan University is, by no means, the only Newman Guide School plagued with degeneracy, heresy, and a weirdly organized incompetence.

How could this happen?

By reading the webpages of these schools and their descriptions in the Newman Guide, it would seem that they are bastions of orthodoxy staffed by intelligent, sober, and faithfully Catholic professors and administrators

The big picture story of the fall of many of these schools is slowing coming together, but perhaps a clue can be found in the writings of our dear friend Rod Dreher.

Among his many articles on the Catholic abuse scandal, one of the best but oddly most neglected of Dreher’s pieces was the August 7, 2018 piece titled “When Two Gay Catholics Tribes Go to (Cold) War.”

In this fine piece, Dreher describes a lavender Cold War between liberal and conservative gay priests and bishops in the Church. Dreher’s description of the conservative gay culture in the American Church is especially revealing. These gay conservative clerics “live a double life. Outwardly they advocate for traditional Catholic teaching on homosexuality, but they also live homosocially (in the sense of socializing with other gay conservative priests), and some have gay sex. They therefore live in a state of cognitive dissonance.”

This description may hold the key to unraveling not only much of the clerical corruption in the Church, but also the corrosion of Newman Guide Catholic schools by both laymen and clerics who live Dr. Jekyll and Mr. Hyde lives and whose sinful lifestyles and corrupted thinking have created a cancerous cesspool throughout many conservative, and, sadly, even some traditional movements in the Church.

It’s time to shine some light on this corruption.

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