University of San Diego says NO to feminist theologian

Some friends of mine forwarded the following information to me.  I thought the blog would be a good way to get the message out that this is happening, and also try to garner some support for renowned feminist theologian Rosemary Radford Ruether.

Rosemary Radford Ruether, renowned feminist theologian, has been uninvited from a recent appointment at the University of San Diego, a Catholic institution.

The faculty of the Theology and Religious Studies Department had selected her to be the Monsignor John R. Portman Chair in Roman Catholic Theology. Under pressure from those who disagree with her theology, the university rescinded the appointment.

Click here to read more and also sign a petition asking for an apology and reinstatement to be issued to Rosemary Radford Ruether.

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7 thoughts on “University of San Diego says NO to feminist theologian

  1. This seems to be a very divisive speaker , I think the University is within its rights to disinvite this person. I don’t think either of the signers of this letter would invite Archbishop Burke or someone likeminded to speak at one of their conferences, so I don’t feel its right to pressure someone else to invite a speaker that they might disagree with if those applying the pressure are not willing to do the same.

  2. It’s a little different though – my understanding is that she was invited to be on staff in the Theology Department at the University of San Diego. It’s a little more than un-inviting a speaker, in my opinion. And you’re right – I can’t imagine many universities would invite Archbishop Burke to work in their theology dept.!

  3. I think there ought to be a moratorium on speakers that promote divisive ideas and instead focus on more universal issues. Unless Mary E. Hunt, and Aisha Taylor are ready to invite a speaker to make a speech in support of Humane Vitae, or something else they might oppose. I don’t see how they can ask this school to have on staff a person committed to teaching ideas opposed to the mission of the university.

  4. I think you’ve got that right Mike, that this is more than just a speaking engagement. She was hired for a department chair position, and if the department was in unison enough to make her the offer, what happened here? Who better to decide her appropriateness in that position than the actual theology department?

    Archbishop Burke and the like have been asked to speak in all kinds of environments. At some point, I want us to make a concerted effort to hear voices like Ruether. Yes, I would like to be inclusive of everyone. And a big part of that is inviting progressive speakers to speak. They are the marginalized, they are the voices we don’t hear often in the church climate we’re in. At some point this looks like the minority getting pushed out, the majority not making them a priority because they simply don’t have to.

    So really, I’m not concerned that Aisha doesn’t invite Archbishop Burke to speak, per BDS’s example. Someone else will. And if Ruether had been invited to chair the department at Steubenville (as though that would ever happen) this would be another deal. But she is very fitting with that university.

  5. OK, so the petition is calloing for ‘Academic Freedom’; so doesn’t the university have the freedom to disinvite Reuther?

  6. LDG–I believe the university departments are at odds with eachother as is often the case; the academic departments want the academic freedom and others try to put a stop to it. My guess is the theology department made the decision to hire her, then someone complained when they heard about it so administration looked into it and is trying to block their decision.

  7. Lauren – I don’t look at this as the administration “blocking” a decision – it’s more of them correcting a mistake. Some of Reuther’s opinions are in direct conflict with Catholic teaching, such as abortion. As I read in The Union Tribune, a spokesperson for USD stated that very thing, so for her to hold a chair position while promoting positions that are in direct conflict with Church teaching sends a confusing message. I’m all for academic freedom, but academic license is another matter. Does it make sense for someone who sits on the Catholics for Choice board of directors to also hold a chair position at a Catholic University? Obviously not to the administration of USD, and they made the correct decision in revoking the invitation. It’s my hope that the administration is heeding Pope Benedict’s words from when he spoke during his Spring visit to the US: “Any appeal to the principle of academic freedom in order to justify positions that contradict the faith and the teaching of the church would obstruct or even betray the university’s identity and mission.” With that being said, I’m more inclined to ‘follow the money trail’ of outraged alumni and tuition-paying parents than to believe that this decision was made solely on the theological problems, but if USD sticks to their guns, then kudos to them.

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