Ban People Who Don’t Agree

Posted by Censor Librorum on Feb 25, 2008 | Categories: Arts & Letters, Dissent, Lesbians & Gays

censorship1.JPGAll across the political spectrum censorship among Catholics is alive and well.

In January, students and faculty at Rome’s La Sapienza University caused Pope Benedict to cancel an academic address he was scheduled to deliver. The protesters claimed that Benedict was an enemy of science and reason, citing a 1990 (!) speech he gave in which he quoted a controversial historian of science who argued that “the church’s verdict against Galileo was rational and just.”

Conservative Catholics were quick to point out the irony of censorship by those who think of themselves as guardians of rationality and open debate.

Certainly another irony is the sting  Pope Benedict must have  felt when he was  barred from  an opportunity to air  his views-something he has done to numerous scholars over the years in his position as  the Perfect of the Congregation for  the Doctrine of  the Faith.

In February, Commonweal published a column describing how Edward K. Braxton, Bishop of Belleville, Kentucky, denied Luke Timothy Johnson of the Candler School of Theology at Emory University the opportunity to speak at the Newman Center of Southern Illinois University. Dr. Johnson is one of Commonweal’s most popular speakers, and one of the most highly regarded scripture scholars in the nation.

 “The reason is quite simple,” said Bishop Braxton. “I do not wish Catholic institutions or organizations to invite speakers into the diocese who have written articles or given lectures that oppose, deny, reject, undermine, or call into question the authentic teachings of the magisterium of the Catholic Church.”

I suspect Dr. Johnson’s position that the church should reconsider its teaching on homosexuality had a lot to do with the bishop’s decision.

In light of these two incidents we are left with this question: Is the best way to strength the boundaries of Catholic identity by marginalizing or prohibiting anyone from speaking who questions magisterial teaching? Or, is a degree of pluralism a sign of spiritual vitality and genuine faith in an intellectually confident church?

Bookmark and Share

Leave a Reply