Saturday, July 17, 2010

Diocese of Peoria issues statement on case of professor fired for teaching Catholicism in a course on ... Catholicism

St. Peter's Square

What does the Catholic Church teach? Isn't that what a university course on Catholicism should offer?

For background, first read the story below from last week if you are unfamiliar with what happened at the University of Illinois to Professor Ken Howell, who was teaching elective courses on Catholicism.  One would think that if he is teaching an elective course on Catholicism - one of the world's major religions -  that he would be permitted to teach what the Catholic Church teaches, but as you will see, the University wasn't buying it. 

OK - here is background and latest...

It may seem strange that the Diocese of Peoria had not been heard from until now, but I think people should read it and give them the benefit of the doubt for not having spoken up sooner. 


Click and scroll to read the statement...

PR U of I - Howell 7-15-10

What is dangerous here, is that the University may indeed find a Catholic to teach a course on Catholicism.  But that Catholic may be malformed in the teachings of the faith, or present their view of the Catholic faith as opposed to what the Church actually teaches.  This is precisely what the University wants - someone who will teach a version of Catholicism which is inauthentic or incomplete. There is no doubt questions will come up on the hot topics of the day - abortion, contraception, homosexuality, euthanasia, etc.  These should be answered with the mind of the Church, not with the mind of those who have other ideas of what the Church should teach.  We get enough of this in the New York Times and the National Catholic Reporter.

Methinks, the University of Illinois (and many others) would prefer to have any Catholic who will teach the "NY Times version of Catholicism", the "anything goes" kind of Catholicism, and anything else that is not true Catholicism.  While the Church teaches that there are absolute truths, the University of Illinois will only be happy with presentation many "truths".   For this reason, I am glad that the Diocese of Peoria is interested in who will be teaching.  In the end, it should be Professor Howell, who was just doing his job.

I would ask the University of Illinois, and others in this situation: why bother to offer any course on Catholicism, or cover Catholicism world relgions courses if you want to sanitize the content of what Catholicism teaches? I can tell you that they won't not teach the course, because by putting a ringer in there as a teacher of the faith, who will not teach the Catholic faith, they can spread error in the name of the Catholicism.

It's the ultimate in censorship.  When a major world religion's teachings are at odds with popular culture, just sanitize the course according to your own whims.


I heard a great podcast of an interview that Professor Howell and his attorney had with Al Kresta this past week.  It came just before that statement above was released.  One of the things you will hear from callers is criticism of the Diocese of Peoria for it's silence, and for what is felt to be a lack of support in the face of this unjust persecution and discrimination by the University of Illinois.  However, you will hear repeatedly out of Dr. Howell a request for patience on this end, and that he believes he is supported by Bishop Jenky.  Here again, I think we should heed the wise advice of Dr. Howell. 
From the, Kresta in the Afternoon Archives for July 14, 2010:

First Topic – Fired for Presenting Church Teaching While Teaching a Class on the Catholic Church? (click here for link to July 14, 2010, 2nd hour audio))

Alliance Defense Fund attorneys have sent a letter to University of Illinois, Urbana-Champaign officials on behalf of a popular, highly regarded professor who was fired for explaining the position of the Roman Catholic Church on human sexual behavior to members of his Introduction to Catholicism class. A university cannot censor professors’ speech--including classroom speech related to the topic of the class--merely because certain ideas ‘offend’ an anonymous student. Dr. Kenneth Howell, who had been teaching at the university since 2001, was relieved of his duties based in part on an anonymous complaint sent via e-mail to university officials. The e-mail was sent by the friend of an anonymous student who claimed to be “offended” by Howell. Ken joins us with his attorney, Jordan Lawrence.
Here are few opinion pieces and posts from around the web in the past week or so,  if you want to read more.

Also, since I do not have time to follow, or report on, every aspect of every story out there, do check daily with solid Catholic and pro-life news sources, portals, and bloggers known for hitting current events.  These include, but are not limited to the following:

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