Sunday, January 2, 2011

My regrettable exchange with a Catholic university professor.

Recently, I had an interesting and disheartening email exchange with a professor at a prominent Catholic university. It was my intention to reprint the entire exchange here but the professor has threatened to take legal action against me if I do. Specifically, he will move to have Blogger shut down the Bubble if I show you his words. 

I've struggled a bit with whether or not to write this post at all, but after praying on it for a couple of days, I've decided to go ahead. It's just one more confirmation of what others (including the Vatican) have known for decades: that something has gone horribly awry in Catholic higher education.

Because of the professor's threats of legal action, I will reprint only my emails here, and then summarize what the professor said in response. He will remain unnamed.

My words are in blue, the summary of the professor's words are in red, and my commentary is in black italics.

It all began when I followed a link that was put in the comment section of a post. The linked article was presented as being from a Catholic source, when in fact it was from an anti-Catholic source that has been publicly denounced by the US Bishops. My point in contacting the website's owner was to clarify for him that his source was misleading. I sent the following email:

Greetings Professor!

If this is from your website:

[Here I inserted the web address of the article in question.]

You might want to check out this:

[Here I linked to a post of mine which used official Church teaching to debunk one of the article's main (erroneous) points.]

I am sure you don't want to purposely misrepresent Catholic teaching. Your page (written by "Catholics" For a Free Choice) also says: "Contrary to popular belief, no pope has proclaimed the prohibition of abortion an 'infallible' teaching."

It is also true that the Catholic Church has never declared, ex cathedra, that God exists. That doesn't mean it's not infallibly taught. Again, for more accurate information about Catholicism, you might want to check out this post:

[Doctrinal Quiz Show Answer: Papal Infallibility]

In it, I make clear that "an ex cathedra pronouncement (extraordinary Magisterium) is not the only kind of infallibility on the block, and definitely not the most common. Many dissident, unfaithful 'Catholics' will use the bogus argument that 'the pope only declared two things infallibly!' to justify their rejection of a hundred other Catholic truths."

The Catechism of the Catholic Church is another great source for authentic Catholic teaching.

Blessings and Merry Christmas!

I did not spend a lot of time looking at the professor's website. I wrote the note quickly, assuming he was a professor in some small school somewhere, probably a Protestant or someone who was very confused about authentic Catholic sources.

The professor wrote back and explained that his website was reading for graduate students and he wished I had explored his website more carefully. In his course, he includes readings from many different religious perspectives, including "liberal Catholics." He teaches a graduate course for university students, and while it is not a catechism class, he does have them read official Catholic teaching. Students in his class (half of whom are Catholic, half not) are expected to use "critical tools" to dissect and evaluate the essays. He is not teaching a Catholic theology course, but a law course. He would not have used that particular article if he were teaching the official Catholic position. He kindly wished me a Merry Christmas and New Year.

I responded:

Dear [Name], 

Thank you for the response! Unfortunately, with eight children I didn't have time to read through your blog carefully. Someone had used the source from your site as a factual reading of Catholic thought and teaching. I imagine that is not uncommon, thus the problem.

I guess I would just hope that, as a professor, you would make sure that a page such as that, from a very anti-Catholic source, would have a very large caveat written across the top, that this source is in fact, not Catholic. That would be the intellectually honest thing to do. Please understand, I'm not accusing you of being intellectually dishonest.... we all have oversights that need to be pointed out.

(And this is just for me, but I'm guessing that the 50% of your class who are Catholic don't have a clue how to discern what is authentic Catholic teaching. I was once one of those Catholics, and it's the norm. So, for the sake of educating Catholics who were once just like me, I hope you will keep your sources very clear.)


And because I had "one last thought," I sent off one more quick email:

One last thought, [Name]. 

"Catholics for a Free Choice" is not a "liberal Catholic perspective" it is a non-Catholic perspective. Even the US bishops (many liberals among them) have denounced the group publicly for being not Catholic. So, to claim this group as a "liberal Catholic" group is factually incorrect.


So, at this point I am still naive and hopeful, thinking that I would get a response of understanding, a concession that the article could be misleading. I assumed that an academic would understand that clarity and facts are necessary when guiding students to think their way to truth. I was honestly not expecting the response I got....

The professor informed me that his website was the farthest thing from a blog... it was an academic resource for his university graduate students, and his professorial duty is to stimulate big ideas and have lively discussions [clearly he has not yet read the discussions we have on this blog, but he's welcome to join us!]. If he tells his students what to think in advance, that is not true education. He quotes a priest, Fr. Hesburgh, whom he calls the "greatest Catholic educator of the 20th century." Fr. Hesburgh has said: "The university is where the Church does its thinking." The professor ends by saying that he has rarely seen a blog where much thinking takes place. [Ouch! That seemed unnecessary.]

He also responded to my follow-up email by saying that the group "Catholics for a Free Choice" calls itself that, not he.

I admit that the insulting tone of his note drove me to dash off my next email. I could have been more diplomatic, but it could have been worse, right?

[Name], forgive me, but that attitude is why university education is seen as such a joke by so many these days.

Sadly, the university is where the Church used to do its thinking. Today, most Catholic colleges (not all) are wastelands.

(And I say all that as a summa cum laude graduate of Boston College.)

God bless!

The professor responded with four Latin words:

Summa veritas summa ignorantia. 

I assumed it was a dig, discussed it with my daughter who studies Latin, and had it later confirmed by two Latin teachers that it certainly could be a dig, depending on the context. The dig about my blog and then about me was so absurd as to be amusing, and I did laugh in disbelief of it all. I'm not proud of it, but I replied with the following:

Thanks for the chuckle, [Name]!  My daughter, a classics major with an emphasis in Latin, enjoyed this exchange of emails. Perhaps you might like the interview I did with her on my blog (we peasants like blogs). Then again, you might not like the interview after all. But it says a lot about academia today:

[Unpacking Liberalism: Interview with my daughter]

God bless!

I quickly sent another email asking him if I had permission to use his emails on my blog. 
The professor responded by saying that since I had written two insulting emails to him, he would not give me permission to use his emails. He told me they are copyrighted. He said he was not sure if I knew how insulting my emails were, and then went on to defend Catholic higher education as being far from a wasteland. He provided me with his teaching and publishing credentials (which are certainly impressive). He took issue with the fact that I denigrated the institutions that he loves. And he felt that my use of the words "that attitude" was a personal attack. He said that the people who read my blog might enjoy the attack on a Catholic university education, but he didn't. After stating that his attempt to have a conversation with me failed, he told me of a prestigious award that he will be receiving soon. [I have absolutely no doubt that he is a learned, effective and beloved teacher.] He said if all his students reacted as I did, he would give up. He also added some nice words about my daughter studying Classics, and wanted to know how she translated the Latin maxim.

I responded:


My understanding is that emails are public domain and I can print them. I will double check. 

The comments you made to me were insulting, actually, which is the only reason I was insulting back. Very elitist, really. I was shocked.

As soon as I looked up Fr. Hesburgh (whom I had never heard of in 17 years of hanging out in faithful Catholic circles) and discovered that he spearheaded Land O Lakes, the biggest rebellion against the Church in forever, I knew all I needed to know. He helped to ruin Catholic universities. Not cool. [Catholic readers! If you are not familiar with the Land O'Lakes Declaration, you must click this link and read what happened there. It is your duty as a Catholic to understand.]

Anyway, I will tell my daughter. Thanks!


PS:  Are you Catholic? [Turns out he is Catholic.]

The response I got was fairly long and full of insults, and I will not repeat them here, for two reasons: One, I hope that the professor will decide to engage in dialogue with me sometime in the future, when he stops being upset with me. Two, he admitted at the end that it was a nasty email (although he said I "deserved it"), which he regretted writing. I will not embarrass him by summarizing it here. 

This is my response to that nasty email, which I had to pare down before I sent it, as I was pretty heated:

Dear [Name],

This is all so interesting to me, and terribly sad.

I will not use your emails, but I will use mine and summarize yours. I will not use your name, either. Tell me if that's legal. If you say no, I will consult with my lawyer friends just to be sure. 

Anyway, you needn't worry about anyone of importance reading my blog, since people like me and my ilk are non-intellectual peasants, apparently. 

I don't know Fr. Hesburgh, but I do know Land O Lakes and the disaster left in its wake. Fr. Hesburgh is not a name I recognized as an orthodox Catholic, because he is obviously not an orthodox Catholic. I don't spend a lot of time reading dissident Catholics or their publications.

BC didn't teach me elitism, it taught me almost nothing. I realize that truth is no longer the goal of education in most Catholic universities, and that is a shame. Every single one of my friends who was a practicing Catholic going into BC had left the practice of the Faith upon graduating [or soon after]. I include myself in that tally. I am the only one [that I know of] who is currently a practicing Catholic (having come back to the Church in my late twenties). This may please you, as a sign of "progressive thought", but I believe it's a tragedy.

Thankfully, the younger generation of lay faithful (and priests/seminarians/sisters) are increasingly orthodox.

I wrote my "reversion" story years ago, and I called it, "I Was Robbed." 

Hundreds of people in my generation have written me to tell me that my story is their story, too [okay, "hundreds" was an exaggeration, but the number is well over one hundred]. They feel robbed as well. It is people like Fr. Hesburgh who robbed our generation of the right to know and learn authentic Catholicism. This is a heavy burden he faces.... and you as well, if you are complicit in perpetuating the lie that Magisterial teaching is simply another "opinion" to be evaluated equally with the the voices of dissent.

I sent my daughter to UofA because that's what we could afford. In many ways it is a wasteland, but the Classics department is sound.

You know nothing of my stance on immigration. My position is that of the Arizona bishops. You can read it online.

I would love to know what I misunderstand about papal authority. Which parts of my "blog" are in error? Please advise. My audience is regular Catholics (peasant class, not academics), and I am not writing an undergraduate treatise for them. I am making things clear and understandable, meeting people where they are. Christianity is a religion of the people, and the basics are accessible to all people. [Okay, you all know that I am not actually calling you peasants!!! I was reacting to his elitism with some self-deprecation... the professor was clear that he finds me ignorant and foolish.]

[Oh, this next part is going to sound like bragging, and that makes me cringe a bit, but I hope you can understand why I said it.] I am not a liar. Lying is a sin, and as a Catholic, I avoid sin. Yes, I am a summa cum laude graduate of Boston College, [college and year]. I found the classes there quite simple, and I aced them. In addition, I scored in the 99% percentile in the nation on the logic section of the GMATs. Not that those things impress me, as academic credentials and awards are nothing in the eyes of Heaven. What impresses me are the virtues of humility, obedience and holiness. [And the Good Lord knows that's the truth!]

I also regret this exchange, just as I regret what has happened in the American Church over the past 40+ years, where Truth and Knowledge and Wisdom (and real education) have been traded for 30 pieces of silver.

Final thought.... what does it profit a man if he gains the whole world but loses his soul?

Blessings to you, my brother in Christ,

I did not hear from the professor again.  (*I have since discovered that he's been out of town.)

Thinking over the exchange in the past few days, and praying about it, I have gone from the pettiness of wanting to expose the professor out of spite (not pretty, I know), to feeling just plain sad about the whole thing. He felt injured and so do I.

Our interchange is a microcosm of the rift between orthodox Catholics and Catholics who dissent from the teachings of the Magisterium. The Body of Christ is broken, which is heartbreaking and scandalous. Faithful Catholics have long lamented the state of Catholic universities, as has the Church herself: Pope John Paul II tried valiantly to bring nominal Catholic universities back into the fold by issuing Ex Corde Ecclesiae ("From the Heart of the Church") back in 1990.

I would welcome further dialogue with the professor, or with any other academic who holds his views. But for now, I continue to regret what has transpired, both in recent days and recent decades.

"Not in mortification, not in prayer, not in labor, not in rest, but in obedience is the essence and merit of holiness." -- St. Maximilian Mary Kolbe, martyr of Auschwitz

For the conclusion and moral of the story, go here.

**UPDATE: This morning I received a thoughtful and lengthy email from the professor, in response to my last email. He was not, at that time, aware of this blog entry. I wrote back and told him that I had already written a post on our exchange. I hope to write a follow-up post in the near future....

**Second UPDATE: Once the professor learned that I had already posted about him, he informed me that he was disappointed, and that our conversation is now over. 


  1. Leila, God bless you! Legally, the truth stands in absolute defense. If he in fact wrote that, it isn't libel to post it. There isn't anything he can do and if he did sue you, you could sue back for frivolous lawsuit. Just a thought. I'm sure you could find plenty of friends here who would all gladly post his exact words and picture too on their blogs and then he can try to sue us all.

    For sure you can contact this group: The Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education

    They follow and publish research for parents like us. And they have a "blog."

  2. Sigh. Academic thought at a Catholic University is so impoverished when it rejects the richness of the Catholic Church and her Truth. Thanks to Land O' Lakes, Divine Wisdom apparently has no place in the classroom and as someone who works with college students, it saddens me that they are robbed of that.

    Thanks for sharing this, Leila.

  3. Thanks for your post and, though you regret it, the exchange with the professor. you never know if a seed may have been planted for later.

  4. Of all the liberals you have had "discussions" with on your blog, he sounds like one...Your bible verse was exactly what I was thinking the whole time I was reading his blubber. For such a smart man that is "credentialed" he doesn't seem to smart.

    I'd rather be a peasant class person then deny the truth.

  5. Wow. What an exchange! So many Catholic schools act just like state universities. I don't understand why anyone would spend the extra tuition for that. :( Thanks for sharing.

  6. You handled it really well. Maybe he'll think twice about being so condescending. He's probably embarrassed to have his emails posted.

    One day my kids will go to college and by that time I would hope that the Catholic Colleges are genuinely Catholic in teaching.
    fyi, I'm a graduate of ASU and live in Gilbert! We're almost neighbors!

  7. Ever since I became Catholic, I have not been able to understand the mindset of the professor and his ilk.

    If you DON'T believe that the Catholic Church teaches the Truth, why be a Catholic? When I came to the conclusion, after months of study and debate, that the Lutheran Church didn't teach the truth, I didn't remain a Lutheran and try to conform the ELCA to my own image and beliefs; I left it because I felt it would be hypocritical to remain.

    I don't get it and I've never been able to have a cafeteria Catholic explain it to me sufficiently. Most say that they don't want to leave the Church because their kids/spouse are Catholic, or because it's where they feel "comfortable" even though they don't bother to follow all of its teachings, or some other flimsy excuse. To which I always reply... "But shouldn't your goal as a Christian be to follow Christ in all things? And if the Catholic Church is, as you believe, departing from the teachings of Christ... then aren't you NOT following Christ by remaining in it?" That usually ends the conversation.

    So, so frustrating.

    Good for you, Leila, for persevering in that exchange. I hope that, perhaps, a seed was planted and this professor might one day realize the error of his logic.

  8. I am a peasant and admit it. Thanks for standing up for Truth!

  9. Like you Leila, my first reaction to dissenting Catholics is one of anger then it turns to sadness because the Body of Christ is broken. I have seen many things working in the parish office I work in. The day after the health care bill passed I opened the mail in our office to a thank you note from Network (the dissident "nuns" who worked so hard against the Bishops to get health care passed) for some money the parish had donated to them. I ALMOST threw up right then and there. It is so hard to see some (many?)of our brothers and sisters working against Christ in the Church. They work to destroy. Sometimes, all I ask God is to have them die off so the Church can breathe again and have this reblossoming of Faith, Hope and Charity and TRUTH!

    Then I think, put love where there is no love. See how I can love them, serve them, teach them. I don't think those of us young enough really understand what happened to the Church in the 60's. This is all fallout from the unfaithfulness of those who had PROMISED to be faithful.

  10. Way to stand up for Truth!! I'm proud to be a peasant with you and the rest of us bloggers! ;)

  11. As I have said before, you are a brave warrior Leila!

    I am happy to be a blogging peasant with you!

  12. Doesn't the White House have a blog?

  13. Proud Papist "peasant" here -- and a sincere thank you for speaking up for us Catholic low-brows who-don't-think-to-know-so-much -- we know better than the Church .

    I commiserate with your experience of unpleasant exchanges in defense of Truth, such as our beloved Catholic Church.

    Battle is ugly - even when victorious. That is the nature of war. Spiritual battle is fighting an enemy we can not see -- but are compelled to stand firm and speak the truth in love.

    Ah yes, love...that is where we ponder ... examine our conscience -- and ask -- is this love ??

    I do not find your admonishment of the misguided "educator" insulting or offensive. I find your exchange honestly refreshing and heroic. Onward Christian soldier!

    You have walked through the muck and mire for love of God and His Church. You take the great commission seriously, and live out that commission for the salvation of souls -- even the soul of the embattled professor who appears to like controversy and conflict, only on his terms, in his classroom only.

    St. Michael is my patron saint. If I should err for love of God, love of His Church, love of eternal salvation, I am ready. I am equally quick to remember, there are many parts to a body and if God should so desire me (I am in no way referring to you, Leila) to be part of the arse, so be it. Who am I to be anything more??

    In closing, I take great consolation in knowing there are Leila's out there, holding firm and standing fast. Courageous to the end -- for love of God. Thank you again.

    Michele Ayala

  14. Very very interesting exchange, Leila! I wasn't aware of the Land O'Lakes rebellion so thank you for the links! (I have to admit that I couldn't get butter out of my head after reading the name...) ;)

    Sigh. I have a slightly jaded opinion of Catholic education these days all the way around. I taught 3rd grade in a Catholic school in an orthodox parish, and with the exception of the three teaching Dominican sisters, I was one of only two faithful orthodox Catholics on staff.

    These teachers are responsible for theology and religious ed in their contained classrooms especially in K-5. And it worries me what liberties are being taken...

    One of the teachers was actually telling me how she preferred to go to Mass at another parish in town because the priests are more liberal, and she likes it that way!

    The Dominicans have recently taken on the school in the last 5 years, and I truly hope that they can slowly bring in more teachers who are faithful to the Magesterium.

    Anyway, Leila, you are a woman of courage to speak the truth, and I appreciate you and am proud to join the peasant ranks of the Catholic faithful. :)

  15. I admire you, Leila. You speak simple, beautiful TRUTH with so much LOVE! Thank you for your perseverance in the faith... May God continue to strengthen and bless you!!

  16. Thank you all so much.... I have added TWO updates, and I will do a follow-up.

  17. I'm so happy you opened the dialogue with him! I totally understand him wanting to open discussion and use a wide variety of sources in order to stimulate discussion/debate/authentic thought. I definitely agree, though, that a caveat would be needed and beneficial. Imagine it from another perspective: if a professor sourced material from the "Jews for Jesus" perspective and it was presented as Orthodox Jewish teaching, or not clarified at all-- for students unfamiliar with another religion, it would/might be taken at face value.

    This is why I take offense at Dan Brown's writing. As a work of fiction, it's great-- a fun read. As a factual representation of Catholicism... not so impressive. My real beef with Brown is that he asserts in the beginning of his books that they are accurate.

    When I was in grad school, I ran into enough anti-Catholic sentiment that the last thing I'd want to see in a Catholic University is a failure to distinguish fact from fiction.

  18. By the time I finished my comment, you had updated that he ended the discussion.

    Professor-- Please re-open the dialogue. If nothing else, in the name of academic inquiry and integrity, please be open to Leila's concerns, or at least address why she's wrong about asking that the source be qualified (or left to stand on its own merit, with identified Catholic teaching presented in conjunction with it).

  19. Jeepers, Leila -- you might be a peasant but I'm a nobody! :-) Great post.

  20. I second Lisa - I'd love for this professor to reopen the discussion, even if only with Leila!

  21. WOW!!!!!! Leila, you are amazing, really. You are truly on the front lines of this battle being waged all over the country and the world.
    At the very least, you have made this professor examine what he is doing and how he could possibly be damaging that generation.
    God Bless you!
    Please keep me posted!

  22. Do you think part of the problem comes from more tax dollars going to fund private institutions?

  23. I think that was amazing :-) I'm a senior and right now I'm trying to decide between two Catholic colleges to go to (I've already been accepted). From the visits I've been on to the campuses they seem to be faithful to Catholic teaching and in pursuit of the truth.

  24. Kate, that's fantastic! There are some good Catholic schools, thank the Lord. My children applied to University of Dallas and Franciscan U... two great schools which have not sold their souls.

    Holly, I am guessing that is part of it. But I think the universities really do want the worldly approval of the NYTimes liberal elite crowd. It's as if they are embarrassed by the Church and revelation.

    Michele A., I love it! Thank you.

    Truly, thank you all for your love, support and prayers. I couldn't stop fighting the good fight even if I wanted to. I just need to do it with charity, and you all need to keep me honest. I don't want to be a "clanging gong" or "noisy cymbal"!

    Seriously, thank you all.

  25. This conversation is heartbreaking. I experienced an anti-Christian environment in my Seven Sister school and had horrible conversations with many of the religion professors (who I loved at the time) in my 20s. I think it's taken me 10 years of confessions to unpack all the errors in faith that I naively absorbed between 18-22.

    I really think the best thing we can do is fast, pray and give alms to orthodox Catholic universities.

  26. PS Leila, thanks for having the guts to confess when you think that you lacked charity and meekness in your email responses. I hope I get that brave soon!

  27. Leila, University of Dallas is one of the schools I want to go to!

  28. Kate, that is awesome! You should shoot me an email:

  29. Kate and Leila-- I did my teaching certification at the University of Dallas and had my wedding reception in their dining hall! It's right across the street from the Abbey in which we were married. I know someone very well who used to be in the Admissions office... she worked with me when I was a teacher at a Catholic school and she was the Academic Dean. Now she's a Catholic school principal, but I bet she still has a lot of pull and advice!

  30. The course does not align with Catholic teaching - well, no, he explained its not a course on that, then why is there such an issue? This is a course where they talk about various viewpoints.

    Even if they are challenging doctrine and discussing it, why is dialogue and growing in the faith not open to all? Are college students not allowed to access the changing religion that is Catholicism?

    At one point in time, even the rhythm method was banned - who did the thinking to change that? I hope we have moved beyond the fervent rejection of education and thinking independently. Sometimes this process requires thinking outside the lines a little.

    I understand you disagree with Catholics for Choice and in most ways, I do too! However, I am so saddened by my fellow Catholic's haste to condemn thought and the process of education in the university system - and worse yet, how so many point fingers try to judge others as "Not Catholic". Anyone who has a differing opinion or conviction from what you interpret as Catholic is not Catholic? If we go by that rule then there are many great thinkers, priests, monks, nuns and even Popes that would have to be thrown out as "Not Catholic" because they changed the way doctrine is and the way we think.

    If we only want a place where official Catholic doctrine is taught, then that would be Sunday school. Catholics are amazing FOR their thinkers - we think, grow, work together as a community! We work through the issues and change as a body - the Body of Christ! If we call for an end to that discussion, then we have become a dead Church. That would be a tragedy.

    The Church is a rock, but it also is a continuing process - it always has been.

  31. Lisa,thank you so much! I was just accepted about a week ago and am waiting to hear about scholarship information now. Just in the last month or so I've been noticing UD in Catholic circles (blogs, magazines, etc.) and it seems like people always say good things about it. I got a really good feeling that they were very committed to being in line with Catholic teaching when I visited the campus.

    I just feel like it never hurts to throw these things out on the comments because sometimes you get in touch with people who have great advice. And I could definitely use other peoples opinions on such a big decision.

  32. Anonymous, I am afraid that you totally miss the point. The US bishops themselves (who have the authority to say what is "Catholic", have publicly denounced "Catholics for a Free Choice" as non-Catholic. This is not a matter of "hey, why can't we Catholics think this stuff through and it all can still fit in the parameters of Catholicism." No. That's not what this is. This is about contradicting the Church. It's about rebellion, not about engaging in honest theology, development of doctrine.

    The Catholic university system did incredible thinking, amazing academics, for hundreds of years before the Land O'Lakes rebellion. So, no one is saying that the Church cannot produce lofty thinkers! (Have you ever read the saint philosophers?)

    The fact that his course was not specifically about teaching Church doctrine does not mean he can have a free-for-all, without explaining to his students that certain sources are not Catholic. If you read my reversion story, you will understand that most of the people under 50 have NO CLUE what is or is not authentic Catholicism; and authentic Catholicism should permeate every subject and discipline in a Catholic university.

  33. Okay, I hear what you are saying. Maybe he should preface his talks with "The Catholic Church condemns this as non-Catholic, but these people consider themselves very much Catholic indeed". I think students are very aware of this already.

    Still, I think this class and discussion should continue! At one point, a very non-Catholic teaching may become Catholic never know (world is flat kind of stuff) it should not be quashed in University. I think people - even students, most of all students - are very capable of handling differing opinions and open dialogue! We as a faith need that openness...does the doctrine have to change on a whim, absolutely no! But we cannot go chasing people out with pitchforks and torches for daring to think.

  34. Anonymous, it might be that you misunderstand that a Catholic doctrine cannot change. Doctrine (the Deposit of Faith) never changes, because it is revelation. You can read more about that, here:

    So, that may be why we are talking past each other here. There are certain things that are not negotiable, never have been, and never will be. They come to us from Jesus, and they are objectively true.

    I appreciate your thoughts! If you could give yourself a "name" that would be great, so we can differentiate between you and the other anonymous commenters.

  35. Kate, my daughter's best friend is at UD, and LOVES it. She just got back from the Rome semester. Wow!! It was amazing. My daughter almost went there, and when we visited, we were so impressed. :)

    My son has applied there, too. :)

  36. Hello, this is Christine, the "anonymous" person...

    You are right, I was confusing discipline and doctrine. I am talking about discipline here. So as I said - does the discipline or to make it even more clear - Church's stances on stuff - have to change on a whim? No. Do they change due to thinkers, and over time? Absolutely. And people, discussions make that happen.

    Thank you for engaging me so kindly.

    I have to say, you have been very kind to me and I am very appreciative of that. I have to kindly (I mean this in the best way possible) let you know though, reviewing the emails which you sent - I think you really unintentionally came across as condescending to the professor...calling his research website a "blog", and sending him links to your own blog and a copy of the CCC from to better "educate" him probably came across as a very crass attack. Can you imagine someone sending you an email and then "kindly" providing a link to the Bible would be a good first impression to a sister in Christ? I can see why he felt decieved and attacked when you finally mentioned posting this all on the internet. That being said, just replying with a latin sentence wasnt completely gracious either.

    I pray that in the future you have better luck getting your message across, with the sincerity I know you set out with.

    Thank you for discussing with me!

  37. Hi Christine! I am so glad to have a name, and I am glad you are here!

    I should clarify that I didn't link to the Catechism on the email that I sent (I did that only on the blog post, for the sake of my readers). That would definitely have been a bit rude! :)

    It was an honest mistake calling his site a blog. I really didn't even think about the word. I have never even heard of a "research website" since we didn't have such a thing when I was in college. Sometimes I call personal websites "blogs" without thinking and I never thought it would offend.

    And, I honestly thought he might have been Protestant, and clueless about what the Church teaches. I didn't even look to see what university he was from. I really did not take the time to read his whole site carefully. Next time, I will be more careful, for sure!

    As for discipline.... I totally agree that that is open to discussion, debate and disagreement. I have no problem with that, and no one else should either. For example, if the issue of married priests comes up, or the mass in Latin vs. vernacular, then we are all free to disagree and fight for our side of the issue, without any fear of being "less Catholic" than the other side.

    So, let me be very clear: Dissident Catholics (like Fr. Hesburgh, McBrien, Crossan, Curran, Sr. Chittister, etc.) are rebelling against doctrine and confusing the faithful, who have no idea that these are non-negotiables. They have confused the faithful for over 40 years, and enough is really enough.

    I hope you will keep reading and commenting! You will be an asset to the Bubble! :)

  38. PS: Just to clarify... I did tell him about the Catechism, but I did not provide a link.

  39. If holiness requires obedience then I don't want holiness.

  40. Truth is a defense to libel/slander/defamation. But not to copyright infringement. Here is a short article on how copyright applies to unpublished letters and conversations:

    Bottom line: snippets are probably ok under the "fair use" doctrine.

  41. Getting caught up in the blog-o-sphere. Peasant that I am, I didn't have good internet access of Christmas!!! :) You continue to inspire me, Leila! Keep it up!

    And might I add Christendom as an outstanding Catholic school?

  42. Here is an excellent quote (supplied by Marc...thanks, Marc!) on "authority". From atheist turned Christian, C.S. Lewis:

    Do not be scared by the word authority. Believing things on authority only means believing them because you have been told them by someone you think trustworthy. Ninety-nine per cent of the things you believe are believed on authority. I believe there is such a place as New York. I have not seen it myself. I could not prove by abstract reasoning that there must be such a place. I believe it because reliable people have told me so. The ordinary man believes in the Solar System, atoms, evolution, and the circulation of the blood on authority–because the scientists say so. Every historical statement in the world is believed on authority. None of us has seen the Norman Conquest or the defeat of the Armada. None of us could prove them by pure logic as you prove a thing in mathematics. We believe them simply because people who did see them have left writings that tell us about them: in fact, on authority. A man who jibbed at authority in other things as some people do in religion would have to be content to know nothing all his life.

    --C.S. Lewis, Mere Christianity

  43. Obedience isn't very imposing when you know, understand and love the Truth on it's own accord.

  44. Attention all anonymous commenters. I am sorry to say that one person has ruined it for you, and I will no longer allow anonymous comments. Please register to keep commenting. Thanks so much!

  45. I'm late on this I suppose, but the comments on obedience made me think of a quote I just read over Christmas, from Father Richard John Neuhaus (who was a convert): "The only alternative to obedience is the cacophony of human beings making it up as they go."

  46. It makes me wonder if he's a professor at my husbands CINO university (he's a theology grad student)! He enjoyed your post to (he said to tell you you did a great job!). He had one prof scream at him across the campus "why the Hell did you decide to go to school here?!?!?" (because he's "conservative") ... the answer... we obviously didn't realize what the profs at the school were like...

    I sent him the link with the comment that it sounded like one particularly hotheaded professor he has. He thought it sounded like him too. Unfortunately I imagine there's more than one out there. Yuck.

  47. Personally, having attended Catholic grade school and then a State University, I have to say that the latter is far less dangerous and misleading. At least you know where you are when attending a public school, so you can't be taught heresy as truth.

  48. Cathy BB, great quote!
    Cam, UGH!!!!
    Anonymous, I couldn't agree more!

  49. Wow... I just read this, this morning, and was thoroughly impressed. I think you conducted yourself 100% correctly and that he was taken a little back. He should embrace and welcome your advice and opinion. Great post!

  50. Leila,

    Just found your and I are kindrid spirits. You have "nailed it" as regards the professor and his ilk, and "Catholic Education." I have bookmarked your inspiring blog and look forward to returning often.


    Another intelligent individual who was "miseducated" in a "Catholic" school and who DETESTS intellectual snobbery.

  51. Anonymous, thank you! I'm glad you are here!!

  52. Just read this, and am glad you did dialogue. I have had similar experiences, as well as being the product of a shoddy Catholic education. Heaven brought my homeward and lit my soul on fire. Thanks for sharing this, and God bless!

  53. Catholic higher education is kind of a mess right now, isn't it?!
    Just read this post, Leila, and was fascinated. I sincerely hope that the professor you were speaking of doesn't teach where I went to school---a university that is Catholic in name....but has a reputation among many Catholics as being washed out and thoroughly "of this world." Although!!!--- many (most, even!) of the students there are really truly good Catholics. I emerged "unscathed" and am thankful for my time there.
    I also noticed the comments from Kate regarding UD. Girl---it's an awesome school! Go there! My younger sister went there, and my brother's there now. Just went to Rome in the fall. It is succhhhh a wonderful Catholic school----I even have school envy. I love where I went but sometimes wonder "what if" about UD....
    oh, life! crazy!

  54. Mary, I have visited UD with my daughter… ahhh, that's a great place!! :)

    I am glad you came out unscathed from your school… If you read my reversion story, you'll see that none of us at Boston College did (my friends). They are all still out of the Church, 24 years later. Sad and unnecessary!


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