Tuesday, September 1


Commencement Revisited

(Note: I realize that this is old news, but my laptop decided to take a vacation from functioning just before I was ready to publish. -E)

Last week marked the beginning of classes at our beloved Alma Mater, and what better way to mark the occasion than with some reflections on the previous year? It seems that our beloved Bishop D'Arcy has been keeping busy over the summer break, and his article in the latest issue of America was recently made available to non-subscribers on their site. The style is vintage D'Arcy, and while those who followed the events in question as they unfolded will recognize some threads from his previous writings, it's clear that he's taken time over the summer to reflect and flesh these out more fully, while adding some new insights into the University's shortcomings.

Most notable among the newer points is the section toward the end on the board of trustees.
I firmly believe that the board of trustees must take up its responsibility afresh, with appropriate study and prayer. They also must understand the seriousness of the present moment. This requires spiritual and intellectual formation on the part of the men and women of industry, business and technology who make up the majority of the board. Financial generosity is no longer sufficient for membership on the boards of great universities, if indeed it ever was. The responsibility of university boards is great, and decisions must not be made by a few. Like bishops, they are asked to leave politics and ambition at the door, and make serious decisions before God. ... Let us pray that they will take this responsibility with greater seriousness and in a truly Catholic spirit.

Taking the trustees to task shows a familiarity with the problem, the roots of which run broad and deep. While the buck may stop at Fr. Jenkins' desk, solving the deeper issues, especially pressure from members of the board and faculty (who, as Stephan Pastis humorously reminds us, are virtually untouchable once tenured), is going to be the key to a long-term resolution.

I thought America did a commendable job in publishing the piece. They didn't shy away from printing an article that takes a couple of stabs at their articles on the events, even noting their journalistic shortcomings: "This journal and others in the media, Catholic and secular, reporting from afar, failed to make a distinction between the extremists on the one hand, and students and those who joined them in the last 48 hours before graduation. This latter group responded with prayer and substantive disagreement." (For the record, the print version of this article features a full-page picture of the latter group at Mass.) Conversely, the bishop's choice to publish in America is, aside from being a chance to connect with their particular readership, a nod to the fact that, while no one is questioning their particular editorial slant, they tend to be fair-minded and open to good-willed debate, something we could always use a bit more of.

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