"Free" Speech?

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This story appeared on the Catholic News Agency web site today:

Catholics shocked by Notre Dame president’s turnaround on ‘Vagina Monologues’
South Bend, Apr. 07, 2006 (CNA) - Following his own strong words denouncing the play in January, many Catholics have responded with dismay to the decision of Notre Dame University president, Rev. John Jenkins to allow the controversial ‘Vagina Monologues’ to be performed at the school.

In a January 23rd address to university faculty, Fr. Jenkins said that the play contains “no hint of central elements of Catholic sexual morality,” but instead, “contains graphic descriptions of homosexual, extra-marital heterosexual, and auto-erotic experiences. There is even a depiction of the seduction of a sixteen year-old girl by an adult woman.”

He had stressed that the “portrayals stand apart from, and indeed in opposition to, the view that human sexuality finds its proper expression in the committed relationship of marriage between a man and a woman that is open to the gift of procreation.”

He even said that “the repeated performance of the play and the publicity surrounding it suggest that the university endorses certain themes in the play, or at least finds them compatible with its values.”

Despite this, on Wednesday, Fr. Jenkins surprised many by saying that he will now place “no restrictions” on the performance.

After hearing from hundreds of students, faculty and alumni over the last 10 weeks, Notre Dame’s president has now expressed his determination “that we not suppress speech on this campus.” “I am also determined”, he said, “that we never suppress or neglect the Gospel that inspired this university."

So many Catholics seem to confuse constitutional issues with questions of the faith. Presenting a play that is completely contradictory to Catholic moral teaching, on the campus of a supposedly Catholic university, is not a question involving U.S. constitutional issues. The question is one of faith and morals and in that area there is no guarantee of free speech; each of us is responsible to act in a way that conforms to God's law. The Bill of Rights in the Constitution is meant to provide Americans with a certain equality before the law, not to provide instruction as to how to act before God.

We all would do well to remember the distinction.

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This page contains a single entry by Ron Moffat published on April 7, 2006 9:45 AM.

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