Gonzaga High School, for those who do not know, is one of the high schools in the Archdiocese. Well known for sports, their graduates have jobs in all levels of society and they are very loyal to the school.
As you may or may not know, Gonzaga (which is run by the Society of Jesus aka Jesuits) invited Sr. Carol Keehan to be the graduation commencement speaker on June 6th. (Why does it seem to be the Jesuit's who are doing these sorts of things - Notre Dame, Georgetown, etc.)
Now, I did not comment on this matter before -- not because it was not important -- but because I wanted to see how this would unfold. And it was pretty predictable, from my point of view, on the part of the Archdiocese.
Our colleagues over at Restore DC Catholicism first identified this matter over two weeks ago. In fact, they even went to protest. Right or wrong, they decided to take that action.
The Catholic Standard, in the special insert on high school graduations, did report this. But no further mention was made.
First, the smartest thing would have been for the Gonzaga administration to ask her not to come. Maybe they felt that enough time had passed that the controversy would have died down. Maybe they thought that no one would notice. Maybe they did not care. But they did not and to be quite honest, they should have known better.
However, does not Gonzaga fall under the Catholic School system in this Archdiocese? It is not listed, as far as I can tell, as an "independent" Catholic school like Avalon or Brookewood.
If Gonzaga is part of the Archdiocese Catholic School system, then Archbishop Wuerl and/or the Superintendent should have been made aware of this. Yes, they were probably aware but I guess if you ignore it, it will go away.
If Sr. Keehan was "removed" as the keynote speaker the the John Carroll Society, why was she not removed as the speaker at this? (Probably because Catholic bloggers across the country had picked up on it and it was becoming an embarrassing situation for Archbishop Wuerl.)
Was it because a couple of months have passed by and the Archdiocese thought that the issue would have been forgotten or if you don't publicize the fact, it would be ignored? Or maybe this is part of their effort to help rehabilitate her image? (Note that she is no longer with the Holy Family Hospital Foundation Board...the Knights of Malta made certain of that, just a week or so ago.)
If the school is as pro-life as the supporters say that they are, then why was she invited? There are probably 100 others who could have spoken. Did they not go to the administration and ask that Sr. Keehan not speak?
Cardinal McCarrick's attendance has once again scandalized this Archdiocese. You had him at Sen. Kennedy's funeral and now this! Again, what this does it to give a "stamp of approval" to her actions.
One of the parents in the video was scene asking "Is this really going to change anything?"
The answer is yes and no.
No, it would not stop her from speaking and probably would not change any minds.
Yes, it may once again make the Archdiocese realize that this has caused a scandal and will only make for more bad publicity. It only adds to confusing messages we are getting from the Archbishop.
Let us remember what Archbishop Chaput wrote regarding Sr. Keehan:
"Regrettably, groups like Network and the Catholic Health Association have done a grave disservice to the American Catholic community by undermining the leadership of the nation’s Catholic bishops, sowing confusion among faithful Catholics, and misleading legislators through their support of the Senate bill ."
"But the actions of the Catholic Health Association (CHA) in providing a deliberate public counter-message to the bishops were both surprising and profoundly disappointing; and also genuinely damaging. In the crucial final days of debate on health-care legislation, CHA lobbyists worked directly against the efforts of the American bishops in their approach to members of Congress. The bad law we now likely face, we owe in part to the efforts of the Catholic Health Association and similar ‘Catholic" organizations."
Finally, I do not entirely blame the students. Thinking back to my days, I was clueless about many things regarding our faith. For me, graduation day was the start of a whole new stage of my life. A chance for me to really be out on my own (so to speak) and see what life was like outside of my school and community.
If the students and parents were really pro-life, as many claim they are, they could have sent a really strong message by standing up and turning their backs on her during the speech. That would have sent a very pointed message to both her and the school administration. (What would they have done to the students? Give them more demerits? To the parents, send them another fund-raising letter?)
But let's be honest, all of this could have been averted had the Archbishop asked that Sr. Keehan be removed as the speaker.
So, once again, Archbishop Wuerl has let another scandal take place and another chance for confusion and dissension among Catholics.
Nice job Archbishop Wuerl.