Trouble at Franciscan

News: Commentary
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  January 14, 2019   

Fr. Sheridan calls all faculty to take Oath of Fidelity

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After first defending the use of pornographic literature as mandatory reading at Franciscan University, the university's president, Fr. Sean Sheridan, is now asking the entire faculty to take the Oath of Fidelity.

The Vatican has required since 1989 that faculty teaching Catholic doctrine on faith and morals at Catholic colleges and universities profess their adherence to the teaching authority of the Church. The oath, already mandated for the theology department at Franciscan University, is now being presented to all faculty. It reads: "I, N., in assuming the office of ………, promise that in my words and in my actions I shall always preserve communion with the Catholic Church."

The role of the former chair of the English department, Dr. Stephen Lewis, doesn't directly involve teaching faith and morals per se. But by assigning blasphemous and pornographic literature as mandatory reading to his students, outraged Catholics are saying he has markedly not been upholding Church teaching in his words and actions as required by the oath.

The current scandal centers around Lewis, and inside sources are indicating that he has put up some resistance to taking such an oath.

"I know for a fact that Lewis has stated in his department that he won't say it and has not said it," a faculty member told Church Militant. "It is not mandatory to teach here and now we know why."

Some liberals are balking at the idea that in addition to the theology department all other departments are also being asked to take this oath. At a Catholic institute, however, there is a certain overlapping of each discipline with the Catholic faith. In his 1990 apostolic constitution on Catholic universities titled Ex Corde Ecclesia, Pope John Paul II made this point:

By its very nature, a University develops culture through its research, helps to transmit the local culture to each succeeding generation through its teaching, and assists cultural activities through its educational services. It is open to all human experience and is ready to dialogue with and learn from any culture. A Catholic University shares in this, offering the rich experience of the Church's own culture.

Watch the panel discuss the current crisis at Steubenville in The Download—Trouble at Franciscan.

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