15 April 2012
15 minutes of fame ;-)
I hope that our 15 minutes of fame at Vanderbilt Catholic are just about up. This has been a challenging time to remain faithful to religious principles in the midst of a secular controversy. The student leadership of Vanderbilt Catholic and I are not seeking publicity and are not making decisions for political impact or leverage in this policy issue. We are trying to be who we are: a Catholic chaplaincy to a secular university. We have been willing to play by whatever rules that the university set up until they conflicted with our ability to "propose Jesus Christ and to form his disciples" at Vanderbilt according to our Catholic faith. That's our mission, and we cannot compromise it. During the course of the year, we have tried to influence the application of the university's non-discrimination policy. When the policy was ultimately promulgated about a month ago we realized that we could not subscribe to it. We informed the university, and we have been willing to accept the consequences of our decision, however unjust we think them to be. We have continued to talk with the university about "unregistered" status, and those talks have been productive. I believe that we have come through this controversy with our integrity intact. As I feared, the administration's position has damaged the university's commitment to the principles of liberal education. The administration has narrowed religious expression at Vanderbilt. The easiest solution to the problem would be for the university to have a separate category for religious organizations because they are different. They are not groups held together by interest but by identity.