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Earlier this week, a report by Church Militant revealed that the chairman of the English department at Newman Guide-recommended Franciscan University of Steubenville (FUS) assigned a blasphemous and pornographic book in an upper-level class last spring. The University’s spokesman initially seemed to defend the choice as part of the University’s intellectual formation to prepare Catholic students for a secular world.
The Cardinal Newman Society and many others, including Franciscan University parents and alumni, expressed deep concern. We reached out directly to the University and have been communicating with the president, Father Sean Sheridan, TOR.
Yesterday - Father - Sheridan - Apology - Affirmation
Yesterday Father Sheridan issued a strong apology and an affirmation of the University’s Catholic identity. He apologized for the University’s initial weak response and acknowledged that the assigned book is “so directly pornographic and blasphemous that it has no place on a Catholic university campus.” He promised action “to immediately review and revise our existing policy on academic freedom to prevent future use of scandalous materials,” and the Newman Society hopes to be able to share that new policy with other Catholic colleges to prevent similar scandals.
Although Father Sheridan insisted in his statement that the professor who assigned the book—then chairman of the University’s English Department—had no “malicious” intent and sought to prepare students “for challenging conversations” with non-Catholics, the professor was quickly replaced as department chair.
First - Reading - Assignment - Mother - God
What to make of this? First, it is important to stipulate that an English reading assignment that viciously blasphemes the Mother of God and is explicitly pornographic—all with the apparent intent of leading readers away from God—is reprehensible, disgusting, and without academic merit. It is contrary to the mission of a Catholic college. Catholic families who send their children, at great expense, to Newman Guide colleges do so precisely because they are avoiding these types of problems.
Third, Father Sheridan’s apology was clear...
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