For three years I have sat silently and watched members of the Georgetown University community bash Ann Sheridan and Catholicism in general. Maybe if her detractors would actually take time out to have a conversation with “that woman” (as she is derogatorily known around the Jesuit Residence), they might realize that she’s a pleasant, dedicated intellectual. Her primary goal is to defend Georgetown from the intrusion of an anti-Catholic spirit of modernism which has been the rage since the Second Vatican Council. Like myself, Sheridan believes that modernism and Catholicism cannot coexist. This being the case, the vast majority of people who label themselves “Catholic” today ascribe to something fundamentally different than that tradition which endured for 1,965 years, leaving serious doubt about their Catholicity. What prompts this piece was a disturbing [viewpoint penned by Suzanne Smalley which appeared in the Oct. 20 issue of The Hoya]( Lambasting Sheridan, she writes “Sheridan’s points are couched in the Catholic ideology, a crutch which I think is offensive to the 50 percent of Georgetown’s population that is not Catholic.” And further, she writes, “As a Catholic, I find the fatalism and dogma of the many more orthodox members of my faith to be demoralizing.” In the first instance, Smalley finds fault in the Catholicity of Sheridan’s argument. But what should one expect? After all, we are at a Catholic university, and we have an obligation and a duty to uphold Catholic ideals in all facets of university life, whether it be Crucifixes in the classrooms, an end to Peer Education, rethinking Safe Zones, or denying university funding to H*yas for Choice. To do any less would be unconscionable and render the university non-Catholic. The 50 percent of non-Catholics at Georgetown are not attending a secular state school where anything goes, where cultural relativism thrives and stands for objective Truth are met with criticism, ridicule, condemnation and hate. By coming to Georgetown, one understands the obligation the university must have to the faith which it claims to uphold. How dare anyone, Catholic or otherwise, try to suppress that duty! Sometimes one has to wonder how persons such as Smalley can justify their contempt. The answer lies in Smalley’s second quotation above. She makes a distinction between herself and other more “orthodox” members of the Catholic faith. Inherent in this dichotomy is a complete misunderstanding of what it means to be Catholic, which deepens the cavernous pit between Catholicism and post-Vatican II “Catholicism.” Smalley and the vast majority of “modernist Catholics” seem to believe that their faith is no different than a political party platform, which, by its non-binding nature, lends to selectivity on the part of the party member over which positions to hold and which to reject. Of course, as the thinking goes, everyone is still Catholic, but their selections simply reflect their individual preferences of what is acceptable and what is not. “Catholicism” is thus subsumed under a relativistic thesis. People deny doctrine and dogma in the name of false ecumenism, radical inclusivity, political correctness, inoffensiveness, security and easy digestion of belief through watered down tenets of the faith. The thesis of modernism is that humanity does not need God’s truth because it is breeds stagnation rather than progress. Man is envisioned breaking the oppressive chains of faith and silencing God’s Word if it will be detrimental to modernism’s agenda. The current generation of the Georgetown Catholic community was raised in the post-Vatican II climate and has bought into “modernist Catholicism,” which has worked hard to suppress what came before it, opting instead for a guilt free, non-intrusive, Brady Bunch, Jesus-is-my-teddy-bear-in-the-sky theology. This stands in sharp contrast to that Catholic tradition which endured for 1,965 years and still thrives among a healthy minority. The catechism of the Church is not reducible to a pile of beliefs that may be picked or cast away at will. Rather, it is all or none – doctrines are not open to question of belief or acceptance because they have been revealed by the working of the Holy Ghost. One cannot, in good conscience, call oneself Catholic while denying central tenets of the faith. In other words, either one subscribes to the entire deposit of faith or one does not subscribe at all. Catholicism is an evangelizing religion – Jesus Christ sent his apostles to the ends of the earth preaching his gospel and spreading Christianity. As followers of his message, we have an obligation and a duty to spread his word, and this includes as a primary goal defending the deposit of faith he left us in all facets of life, and especially at Georgetown. Robert Hagan is a senior in the College.

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