NCAA rules or Church rules?

NCAA rules or Church rules?

One of the Boston College Jesuits wrote an op-ed in the Boston Globe about the specter of Benedict XVI looming over supposedly Catholic colleges, especially in connection with the resignation of Fr. Tom Reese as editor of America. Fr. Kenneth Himes quotes approvingly the president of BC, Father William Leahy, saying: “I know what the answer is for us at BC. We are not directly linked to the Vatican; we operate under principles of academic freedom.” That’s as clear a statement as any that they do not consider themselves to be Catholic. After all, if you are Catholic, you must be “directly linked” not just to the Vatican, but to the successor of St. Peter. You are under his authority. If you reject that authority, you have broken from communion with the Church.

Himes says, “What happens in the church does not simply translate into what will or should happen in the university.” What that says to me is that he doesn’t understand what the Church is. The Church is not simply one among many institutions. The Church is the Body of Christ and this means that wherever there are Christians that is where the Church is. A university that claims to be a Catholic institution cannot be separate from the Church. If it tries to be, then it is no longer Catholic and should be stripped of the title to avoid misleading the public.

Yesterday, Bill Hobbib, a Bettnet reader, had a letter to editor published in the Globe in reply to Fr. Himes’ op-ed. He makes a good point.

Interestingly, the school’s website proudly states that BC’s Athletic Department ‘‘promotes the principles of sportsmanship, fair play, and fiscal responsibility in compliance with university, conference, and NCAA policies.”

Since that department is comfortable complying with the rules of the NCAA, why should the theology department have a problem with the teaching authority and doctrines of the church?

That’s because Boston College knows that if it doesn’t comply with the NCAA rules, the NCAA will kick them out, there will be no more intercollegiate sports, and all kinds of TV money, alumni fundraising, and recruitment advertising will dry up. Unfortunately, so far, there have been no repercussions to not obeying the rules of the Catholic Church. If they were threatened with losing the title of Catholic university and the benefits thereof, I wonder how quickly they might leap to play ball?

  • Hi, Dom.

    Let’s give Fr. Leahy credit: surely he’s smart enough not to openly say that BC isn’t Catholic.

    When he said, “We are not directly linked to the Vatican”, he was echoing an argument that Ex Corde Ecclesiae properly applies only to institutions granting ecclesiastical degrees (STB, STL, STD, etc.)

    This isn’t a sound argument.  ECE wouldn’t have been needed if its purpose were merely to reiterate existing obligations of such pontifical faculties.

    Speaking of the obligations of educational institutions, I wonder what the new Pope will do about the seminary visitation.

  • “If they were threatened with losing the title of Catholic university and the benefits thereof, I wonder how quickly they might leap to play ball?”

    Based on:
    a) the mound of money BC is sitting on,
    b) the vast flock of cafeteria Catholics and CINOs, both present attendees and alumni, that currently contribute to BC mostly based on the sports program and the old school ties, not BC’s “Catholic identity,”
    c) the ho-hum reaction to the stripping of Marist and Marymount Manhattan of their official Catholic identity (as opposed to their actual Catholic identity, willingly shed decades before,

    I suspect they’d let the Archdiocese’s phone call go to voicemail. 

    Heck, the BC Jesuits might secretly welcome this sort of “brutal, reactionary persecution”, which would aid their victimology and bolster their quest to sing a new church into being.

  • It doesn’t matter if BC cares or not about it’s offical Catholic idenity; if it’s no longer a Catholic U. it shouldn’t be alowed to call itself one. 

    As for the Jebbies infesting the place, if Abp O’malley really had some brass ones, he could kick them out of his see – boy wouldn’t the feathers fly with that move!  Unfortunitly, either action by the good archbishop re BC is about as likely the sun turning green.

  • It’s interesting to note that one resignation of an editor has a lot of people who should have been concerned for a long time already starting to act concerned.

    What a difference a resignation or two would have made 25 years ago.

  • Allegiance to the NCAA brings in a whole lot o’ money.  How much money does Vatican allegiance bring in?  It’s all about the money, isn’t it? If it weren’t, do you think any college or university would waste a minute on sports?  They could mismanage their resources on much more vital projects, like eco-feminism and “Visually-challenged transvestite Eskimo midgets for Christ” (well, nix the “for Christ” part).

  • “It’s all about the money, isn’t it? If it weren’t, do you think any college or university would waste a minute on sports?”

    Depends on whether you’re talking about men’s or women’s athletics.  How many men’s athletics programs at how many colleges and universities have been sacrificed at the altar of Title IX?

  • True, Steve; I suppose I wasn’t as precise as I should have been.  If “men’s” athletics did not bring in oodles and scads of money left and right (including generous donations from benefactors and alumni), then university administrators would chuck the whole thing (both men’s and women’s), as they often do with programs like “Classical languages” to make money available for things like “Eco-feministic Reconstructive Environmental Studies.”

    There is a certain university in the midwest which was running a deficit to the tune of (something like) $10.5 million five years ago.  They announced that due to this shortfall, departments would have to slash budgets and the (four-year old) salary freeze for faculty would continue.  Later on the SAME DAY, they announced a gift to the university for (something like) $10 million for the contruction and renovation of the press boxes at the stadium.  I don’t recall the exact numbers, but the proximity of the deficit to the donation is not very different; of that I am sure.