Villanova Student Persecuted

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by Kristine Christlieb  •  ChurchMilitant.com  •  July 2, 2020   

Hostile environment for faithful students

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VILLANOVA, Pa. (ChurchMilitant.com) - A graduate student at a Catholic university is claiming a faculty member threatened her because she questioned the institution's commitment to the Faith.

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Melanie Didioti's response

On June 22, when Villanova Athletics tweeted out its support for Gay Pride Month, theology graduate student Melanie Didioti responded. 

"Villanova is proud to be an ally of the LGBTQ community and ashamed to be Catholic so I'm ashamed to attend here and that's that,"  Didioti tweeted.

Didioti's graduate advisor Jennifer Jackson noticed her tweet and immediately called her into a meeting seemingly to discuss Didioti's fall schedule. But Jackson, however, used the time instead to indirectly threaten Didioti's future.

Didioti went public with the details of the meeting, saying Jackson asked her to "ally herself with the LGBTQ community and affirm that she wants to truly respect all people." If she did not, said Jackson, Didioti's scholarship was at risk and her career could be in jeopardy.

Jackson also wanted Didioti to tweet her support for the theology and religious studies department.

Villanova University denies that Didioti's scholarship was ever threatened. The university gave Church Militant the following statement:

We can confirm that this student has withdrawn from the University and we wish her all of the best. To clarify, at no point did the University ever threaten to revoke her scholarship. Villanova takes its Catholic and Augustinian heritage seriously. We are dedicated to living out our motto of Veritas, Unitas, Caritas – or Truth, Unity and Love. As part of these values, Villanova strives to be a welcoming community that respects and supports members of all backgrounds, in keeping with our Catholic mission.

Highly Ranked Despite Unorthodoxy

One college guide ranked Villanova number four out of the top 164 Catholic Colleges in America. The university, however, like so many other Catholic institutions, does not live up to its Catholic name. Instead of defending the Church's teaching on homosexuality, it has actually promoted it.

Jackson asked her to 'ally herself with the LGBTQ community and affirm that she wants to truly respect all people.' 

The recent tweet from the Athletics Department in support of "gay pride" is but one example. Didioti's allegation that she was pressured by her advisor to get on board with the LGBTQ agenda or risk being portrayed as "not respecting all people" is another.

Platform for Homosexualist Prelates

Three years ago, Villanova hosted Fr. James Martin. During his presentation, Martin directed a comment to a practicing homosexual who attends Mass. 

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He told the individual, "I do hope in 10 years you'll be able to kiss your partner. Why not? What's the terrible thing?"

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Fr. James Martin at Villanova University

In an interview after his address, Martin claimed that the many thousands of people who have left the homosexual lifestyle are in "conflict" with themselves — that their lives aren't "integrated" as current homosexuals are.

He insinuated that freedom from homosexuality is not achievable and characterized suggestions otherwise as "sad." Villanova did not challenge any of Martin's errors.

The University also hosted pro-LGBT Cdl. Joseph Tobin of Newark in 2018. In an address to students and faculty, Tobin said the Church is "moving" on the question of same-sex couples. Again, Villanova's administration did not challenge Tobin's claim or his positive assent toward it.

Decline of Catholic Universities

The decline of America's Catholic universities can be traced to a gathering in 1967 of Catholic university leaders in Land O' Lakes, Wisconsin. Led by Notre Dame's President Theodore Hesburgh, the conference's purpose was to help Catholic universities break free from the Church's teaching authority, especially in the area of sexual morality.

I do hope in 10 years you'll be able to kiss your partner. Why not? What's the terrible thing?

Soon after the conference, St. Louis University, a Jesuit institution, declared its independence and recruited a board of trustees that included laymen. In the decades that followed, Catholic institutions of higher education became increasingly secularized. There remain, however, a few Catholic schools that have a reputation for Catholic orthodoxy.

Didioti has announced that she is leaving Villanova and will be attending Franciscan University, a school known for its commitment to Catholicism. Even Franciscan, however, has had its own problems in recent years. 

Church Militant contacted Jennifer Jackson multiple times for comment but as of press time, she has not responded.

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