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Trouble brewing at UD again? March 3, 2011

Posted by Tantumblogo in Basics, Dallas Diocese, foolishness, General Catholic, North Deanery, sadness, scandals.

Most of my readers are probably aware that the Dallas Diocese has been blessed to have a fairly orthodox Catholic university within its confines – the University of Dallas (UD).  What some readers may not be aware of is that keeping UD fairly orthodox has been a difficult battle, especially over the past 10-12 years.  The problems started when Fr. Milam Joseph, current episcopal vicar at the Sacred Heart Catedral Santuario de Guadalupe downtown, was made the President of UD and instituted a series of ‘directional changes’ intended to make UD more like most dissent-oriented heterodox ‘Catholic’ universities – at least, that was the view put forth by his many critics.  In 2001, the entire staff of the UD Institute for Religious and Pastoral Studies left for Ave Maria University, citing concerns over the direction was taking.  Not too long after, Joseph resigned and was replaced by Frank Lazarus.  However, in the meantime, an organism known as the ‘School of Ministry’ was stood up at UD to replace the Institute for Religious and Pastoral Studies, and there have been many complaints about dissent, heterodox opinions, and outright heresy issuing forth from this replacement program.  In 2008, Lazarus engendered controversy when he allowed an artwork to be displayed on campus that showed the Blessed Mother as a stripper.  The painting was subsequently stolen, with some arguing that act constituted a sin, and others saying it was a necessary defense of the Faith.

Now, it appears there is a new controversy brewing at UD.  There is a proposal underfoot to place the quite heterodox School of Ministry at UD within the very orthodox Theology department.  When I say that UD is fairly orthodox, this is what I mean – there are portions of UD that very strongly adhere to the Faith of Tradition, while other parts are more problematic, to be charitable.  The School of Ministry is considered the most problematic, or heterodox, department on campus.  And this move by the School of Ministry to insinuate itself into the Theology department is causing a great deal of consternation, as it seems to be an attempt to, once again, convert UD into something more like Xavier in Cincinatti or even Notre Dame – that is, a university that is Catholic in name only.

Interestingly, in reading the long article at The Catholic Thing linked above, alot of the names of the heterodox staff at the School of Ministry sounded familiar.   Then I recalled – these were many of the same people who caused me concern about the Diocesan ‘ministry conference’ that was held last fall.  In fact, the Catholic Thing article reveals more about these individuals than I knew at the time – several staff of the School of Ministry are seriously heterodox, advocating for impossibilities like women priests and acceptance of homosexual acts as just fine and dandy.  A few details:

Take, for instance, Professor Jerome Walsh, who is currently teaching an Old Testament course to School of Ministry graduate students. Walsh’s interests in the Old Testament include publication of a lengthy analysis of Leviticus in which he claims that Israel’s holy law only ever meant to condemn the completed act of sodomy and that “other forms of male–male sexual encounter, encompassing the whole range of physical expressions of affection that do not entail penetration, are not envisaged in these laws” (see p. 209, warning: graphic content). Will this be taught to undergraduates? 
Another cause for concern is Sr. Dorothy Joanitis, O.P., who has openly advocated for optional celibacy for priests, as well as for female ordination. While her SOM colleague Dr. Marti Jewell thinks lifting the ban on celibacy is a legitimate option, Sister Joanitis goes even further, presenting to a synod of bishops the following: “To alleviate the injustices imposed upon the People of God, we offer these practical solutions to you, the Synod of Bishops on the Eucharist. . . .allow women to be ordained” (blog link; the original website has been taken down). Like Prof. Walsh, Sister Joanitis appears to have an interest in weakening the Church’s teachings on homosexual acts, defending Eucharistic ministers who “question a church teaching they see as justifying violence against their son and other homosexuals” and in her piece nominates Bishop Gumbleton as the authority on good conscience in regard to homosexual acts, while rejecting then-Cardinal Ratzinger.
Another SOM faculty member and a former Call to Action member, Dr. Scott Opperman, seems to be of the same mind. On a website designed to encourage new vocations, he co-wrote that “[r]eligious women and men aren’t oddities; they mirror the rest of the church they serve: there are introverts and extroverts, tall and short, old and young, straight and gay, obese and skinny, crass and pious, humorous and serious, and everything in between.” Does this pattern of dissent carry over into the classroom?
And there is much more at the link.  This seems all part of a pattern – heterodox elements somehow attach themselves to UD, and then move to try to drive the direction of the entire university.  I was unaware, until today, that the School of Ministry was the direct replacement for the Institute of Religious and Pastoral Studies, but one can see that it appears the heterodox elements are now fairly firmly entrenched, and are seeking to expand their influence.  It is interesting tonote that Ave Maria University, which absorbed the Institute of Religious and Pastoral Studies staff from UD, is now using that same staff and same department to stand up a satellite college in Fort Worth.  That says a great deal right there.
Apparently, UD’s Board of Trustees is voting today on whether to approve this move by the School of Ministry.  I pray that the University will instead take up  the Catholic Thing author’s desire, and investigate whether or not the School of Ministry needs to be revamped.  If UD fails to uphold Catholic Doctrine, it will simply be another in a long, sad line of formerly Catholic universities that lost the Faith.  And students, alumni, and orthodox professors and staff will simply have to go elsewhere or support another place.
UPDATE:  A commenter generously pointed out that the text quoted above has changed, and that Patrick Fagan has dropped his allegation against Sr. Dorothy Jonaitis involving undermining Church Doctrine on homosexuality.  It appears Fagan did so some time after I quoted the above text. 


1. James Locke - March 4, 2011

Well, as a current student at UD, you should have seen us rise. We were mad as hell, and still are. The Bishop will do nothing about the heterodox professors and nor will the president. He dismissed the Fagan article as a series of “half truths” and will most likely look the other way when the professors begin to spew their alternative dogma.

steve weatherbe - March 10, 2011

Im a freelance reporter for the National Catholic Register seeking comment from students who supported Dr.Fagan’s letter. Could any such contact me at steve.weatherbe@gmail.com to arrange telephone interview, using names or anonymously–your choice.
Steve Weatherbe

2. Ashley - March 4, 2011

To sign the petition requesting that the Board proceed with caution in order to maintain the untainted, orthodox nature of the Theology program, please click here:


3. Well, the Appeal to Authority is the Weakest Form of Appeal...According to St. Boethius. - March 4, 2011

I too would like to emphasize the fact that this attempt to integrate the School of Ministry within the general undergraduate program is very much a top-down mission. The majority of the student body is vocally opposed to this integration, specifically do to the heterodox positions held by many of the School of Ministry faculty and administration and a lack of concern for orthodoxy regarding the process of faculty hires. Many students were up at 7:30 AM to hand out petitions for a reconsideration of aspects of the school of ministry before the vote, and the public outcry against this integration is palpable. This afternoon President Keefe held an “open” forum to discuss this issue but opened it by declaring any personnel related questions as off-limits. Please keep our school in your prayers as this issue continues,and know that the soul of the school: its students, orthodox faculty, and Core Curriculum will continue to persist and thrive.

tantamergo - March 4, 2011

Thanks to the comments from the UD types. Please feel free to add any additional information you have in the comments, or e-mail me if you wish. God bless, and I will pray for UD.

4. A. Hoffmann - March 4, 2011

According to the UD website and the President’s forum, the Bishops weighed in on the new degree and they’ve behind been involved with establishing it. According to the President’s forum, the Bishops ultimately decide which faculty get to teach the courses. I also heard that a few of the faculty mentioned were already under review by the University and the Bishop. Apparently two of them did not get their contracts renewed for next year. Here’s a video from the Bishop that’s being circulated from the Bishop: http://www.cathdal.org/pages/news-item?r=KQ5VAOWZID&send_to=%2F

tantamergo - March 4, 2011

Thanks for the link. However, from my interactions with Bishop Farrell and the Chancery in general, I’d be very surprised if he actually took the time to review the faculty at UD in depth. Given that he is apparently out of town approximately half the time, and has an incredible amount of other responsibilities, I would imagine that while he does ‘approve’ the faculty, that approval is cursory and is based on the recommendations of the deans and President’s office at UD. That’s how such things typically work. So, if some of the problem faculty have not had their contracts removed, that’s good, but I’m skeptical that Bishop Farrell is going into great detail reviewing the beliefs and prior work of various professors.

5. A. Hoffmann - March 4, 2011

I think the University is in a tough spot. From what I’m gathering from students and faculty who attended the different forums, The President acknowledged that there are investigations going on. But, the President just can’t put out a press release announcing that certain people have been let go (if that’s even the case – that’s just a rumor). That would potentially have legal implications for the University. The President has only been at UD a year. It takes a little bit of time to figure out what’s really going on. It sounds like he’s got a good idea and is trying to take care of it but is in a difficult position of not being able to wave contract/personnel issues around in public.

6. Ben - March 5, 2011

When UD hosted the portrait of Our Lady of Guadelupe as a stripper, the artist mentioned that she didn’t know UD was a Catholic Univerisity (based on the name only). I remember wondering at the time if that was the goal of the president and board of UD.

I don’t think either the president or the Art prof who approved displaying that work ever expressed regret over it.

7. Sue - March 8, 2011

Just learned this week that the provost at UD is a protestant and the academic dean is a Mormon. Is there a shortage of strong, orthodox Catholics who are qualified to serve in the administrations of our Catholic colleges or can anyone tell me what is going on here?

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