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Old 02-12-2009, 06:17 PM   #1
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Crucifixes In Classrooms In A Catholic College

Some faculty members have an issue with it..

Can anyone here explain how it could be contrary to the letter and spirit of open intellectual discourse that makes education worthwhile and distinguishes first-rate universities from mediocre and provincial ones?

Catholic symbols stir diverse feelings at BC
Some protest, some applaud, and some don't notice

By Michael Paulson, Globe Staff | February 12, 2009

On the plaza in front of Higgins Hall at Boston College, there is a new oversized statue of St. Ignatius of Loyola, robes flowing and his hand over his heart. For the university's nearby Newton campus, a large statue of St. Thomas More is being designed.

On each side of the foyer in Lyons Hall is a new mosaic, one depicting Dorothy Day, the founder of the Catholic worker movement, and the other Pedro Arrupe, a former superior general of the Jesuit order.

And suddenly, in all 151 classrooms, there is a Catholic icon, in most cases, a crucifix above the lintel.

Students and faculty returned to campus after winter break to find that Boston College had quietly completed, without announcement or fanfare, an eight-year project to dramatically increase the presence of Roman Catholic religious symbols on campus. The additions are subtle but significant, as the university joins other Catholic institutions around the nation in visibly reclaiming its Catholic identity.

"The Christian art reflects our pride in and commitment to our religious heritage," said Jack Dunn, BC's spokesman.

Student reaction has been generally supportive, but among faculty, there is division over the appropriateness of the step. A meeting last month of arts and sciences department chairs turned into a heated argument over the classroom icons; a handful of faculty have written to the administration to protest, and some unsuccessfully circulated a petition asking to have crucifixes removed.

"I believe that the display of religious signs and symbols, such as the crucifix, in the classroom is contrary to the letter and spirit of open intellectual discourse that makes education worthwhile and distinguishes first-rate universities from mediocre and provincial ones," Maxim D. Shrayer, chairman of the department of Slavic and Eastern languages and literatures, said in an interview.


But other faculty are delighted.

"Christian iconography and symbols permeate this place and always have," said the Rev. John Paris, a Jesuit priest who teaches bioethics at BC. Paris said he finds "offensive" the notion that a crucifix impedes the ability of students or faculty to think critically in a classroom and called the criticism "the narrow and bizarre musings of a few disgruntled folks."

"This is a small problem for those with small minds," Paris added. "This is not a serious controversy."

The crucifixes and statuary are also being lauded by conservative critics of Catholic academia. An organization called the Cardinal Newman Society, which routinely bashes Catholic colleges for straying from orthodoxy, praised BC, while the National Catholic Register, a right-wing newspaper, called the crucifixes "an unexpected move at Boston College."

A variety of conservative Catholic bloggers are suddenly thrilled with an institution they often deride. "Hope for Boston College," was the headline used by Kelly Clark, who blogs under the name "The Lady in the Pew." And Thomas Peters, who blogs as "the American Papist," wrote "Catholic stuff in a Catholic school?! What a radical concept . . . Now wait for the protest."

The subject of Catholic identity on Catholic campuses has been a contested issue for the last several decades, and many campuses, most notably Georgetown University, have launched public efforts in recent years to increase the presence of Catholic symbols on campus.

During the tenure of the current BC president, the Rev. William P. Leahy, the university has taken multiple steps that emphasize its Catholicness, strengthening its relationship with the Archdiocese of Boston, creating a new institute studying Catholicism in the 21st century, absorbing the Weston Jesuit School of Theology, and even canceling classes once each fall for a campuswide open-air Mass.

But the school has also emphasized its diversity, establishing minors in Jewish and Islamic studies.

About 70 percent of the student body at BC is Catholic. Student leaders interviewed were uniformly supportive of the new emphasis on symbols, and Dunn said he has heard no complaints from students.

"The university has the prerogative to add the crosses, and I don't feel it should be a point of contention for people," said Christopher Denice, president of the undergraduate government. "Everyone here knows and understands that BC is a Jesuit, Catholic school. The addition of crucifixes does not change anything."

Patrick Fouhy - a former editor of The Heights, the BC newspaper - said he noticed the new crucifixes when he got back from winter break this year. He was pleased, saying that the university's Catholic identity was one of the reasons he chose to attend.

"Personally, I'm glad that the university decided to increase the number of crucifixes in classrooms on campus," he said. "Boston College welcomes students, faculty, and staff of all religious persuasions, but at the end of the day it is a Jesuit, Catholic institution and the crucifixes are a nice reminder of that."

And Elissa Klein, director of Jewish life at Boston College, said: "I spoke to several Jewish undergraduates tonight, who were all apathetic about the new religious art. It seems that many failed to notice it entirely. Others found it a minor change."
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Old 02-12-2009, 06:26 PM   #2
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It's a Catholic college. Having crucifixes makes sense. I don't see a big problem with it. Sure, not all of the students are going to be Catholic, but it's just a symbol, it's not going to reach out and bite anybody. One of the hospitals in my city is Catholic, and every room has a crucifix on the wall. But there aren't actually many Catholics in my city, and most of the patients that go through there aren't Catholic. But it's not like religious imagery can hurt you.
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Old 02-12-2009, 06:27 PM   #3
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If its a Catholic school what's the issue, I think it should be allowed.

Look at my fundamentalist atheist anti-religious bigotry at work, I'm so narrow minded
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Old 02-12-2009, 06:31 PM   #4
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it's a catholic college.

you kinda had to know it was a possibility there might be a crucifix in every room. it's pretty much a given.

it's a symbol. there are two solutions: get over it, and what exactly did you expect?
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Old 02-12-2009, 06:31 PM   #5
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Originally Posted by A_Wanderer View Post
If its a Catholic school what's the issue, I think it should be allowed.

Look at my fundamentalist atheist anti-religious bigotry at work, I'm so narrow minded
oh, you were doing so well until your second paragraph.
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Old 02-12-2009, 06:40 PM   #6
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They have gotten away from the crucifixes, so apparently the reappearance of them is causing a problem for some.

I went to a Catholic college and there were no crucifixes in the classrooms. The only time I really focused on the fact that it was a Catholic college was when I went to the chapel/church on campus. I transferred there after two years at a college with no religious affiliation, and for me there was definitely no difference in my education as far as the religious aspect change was concerned. The religion courses I took were about all other religions, not just Catholicism. They had lots o'open intellectual discourse.
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Old 02-12-2009, 06:44 PM   #7
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The religion courses I took were about all other religions, not just Catholicism. They had lots o'open intellectual discourse.
And so does Boston College. They just happen to also have crucifixes floating about.
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Old 02-12-2009, 07:44 PM   #8
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Where I work, the faculty must be current members of a church of a certain denomination, and their kids must attend private schools of this denomination. Funny, b/c my two theology professors and my anthro professor (who did a phd study on the evolution of ape and human pelvic structures) were ordained in another denomination. So a lot of faculty sign the contracts but move and teach under the radar. Still others have left and been asked to leave for defying the contract.

Personally I think it's bull.
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Old 02-12-2009, 07:47 PM   #9
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Several years back there was a directive from the Vatican for Catholic schools and especially Catholic colleges to enhance their 'Catholic character,' and I'd assume this project is probably related to that. What was, or should have been, a far more controversial aspect of this directive was its emphasis on prioritizing the hiring and retention of Catholic faculty, as a result of which some colleges, most notoriously Notre Dame, went about announcing their intentions to facilitate this goal in a hamfisted way that freaked out non-Catholic faculty and gave many of them the impression that at best they were about to become a sort of pariah group, at worst that they might lose their jobs for not being Catholic. But this was little reported on, except by Catholic publications and academic newsletters like the Chronicle of Higher Education. Do something virtually insubstantive like beefing up the crucifix quotient in classrooms, on the other hand, and apparently you get a media circus...
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Old 02-13-2009, 02:52 AM   #10
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oh, you were doing so well until your second paragraph.
People don't pay remember unless I slap them in the face with my sarcasm rod.
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Old 02-13-2009, 08:07 AM   #11
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It's a Catholic college. Having crucifixes makes sense. I don't see a big problem with it. Sure, not all of the students are going to be Catholic, but it's just a symbol, it's not going to reach out and bite anybody. One of the hospitals in my city is Catholic, and every room has a crucifix on the wall. But there aren't actually many Catholics in my city, and most of the patients that go through there aren't Catholic. But it's not like religious imagery can hurt you.
True, and students choose to go to this college.
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Old 02-13-2009, 01:21 PM   #12
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Originally Posted by DreamOutLoud13 View Post
It's a Catholic college. Having crucifixes makes sense. I don't see a big problem with it. Sure, not all of the students are going to be Catholic, but it's just a symbol, it's not going to reach out and bite anybody. One of the hospitals in my city is Catholic, and every room has a crucifix on the wall. But there aren't actually many Catholics in my city, and most of the patients that go through there aren't Catholic. But it's not like religious imagery can hurt you.
I agree. It's a private, religious institution. I'm surprised that they didn't have these symbols around before, actually.

*went to Catholic schools for 12 years
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Old 02-13-2009, 01:44 PM   #13
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What's harder to deal with:

Cathoilic
or
Jewish guilt?

Reason I ask a few therapist friends have shared that overwhelmingly these groups carry a lot of guilt w them driving them into therapy.

<>
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Old 02-13-2009, 01:49 PM   #14
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What's harder to deal with:

Cathoilic
or
Jewish guilt?

<>
Neither compares to the self-flagellating of white liberal guilt.
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Old 02-13-2009, 01:50 PM   #15
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I went to a private, catholic University, and am Jewish. I had priests and nuns for professors at times, and a lot of my classrooms had catholic iconography lcoated inside.

Not once, for one second, did I give a shit.

Nobody put a gun to my head and told me to attend, and since it's a private institution, I felt that they had the right to adorn their classrooms as they so chose, as it pertains to religious symbols and whatnot.

I'm pretty sure that I won't deign to answer the big Kurt Warner fan's question located two posts above mine.
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