CATHOLIC Scholar Attacked for CATHOLIC Views at CATHOLIC College

Prominent Catholic scholar of Renaissance literature Anthony Esolen is under attack for daring to talk openly about the teachings of the Catholic faith.

The orthodox professor at the Dominican-led Providence College in Rhode Island is the author of many books, including a translation of Dante’s Divine Comedy.

Esolen recently penned two articles at Crisis magazine, the first in which he laments that his school – like many – has “succumbed to the totalitarian diversity cult.”

Esolen observes that the “celebrate diversity” culture crowd is “at odds with…the diversity of male and female to be resolved most dynamically and creatively in the union of man and woman in marriage.”

In a second piece, the scholar asserts that Catholics are facing a “relentless institutional persecution,” and asks his readers to consider how they will prepare for the onslaught when it comes to them.

Rod Dreher interviewed Esolen at the American Conservative where the scholar recounted what happened after his pieces were published.

“Naturally, some students and faculty on Esolen’s campus were so outraged by his suggestion that ‘diversity’ as they understand it is misguided and destructive that they have commenced a campaign to punish him, perhaps even to fire him,” writes Dreher, observing that Esolen is now facing his own persecution.

Esolen explained to Dreher the students at his school “accused me of racism” and were angry that he suggested “there was something totalitarian in the impulse of the secular left, to attempt to subject our curriculum to the demands of a current political aim.”

Yet, Esolen said his quarrel was not with students, but rather with “anti-Catholic professors and their attempts to hurt or to stifle my colleagues.”

The professor continued that even though he invited students to meet with him to discuss what it’s like to be a minority student at Providence, “I have received NO phone calls and NO e-mails from any students; and yet word has spread around campus, possibly originating from the administration itself, that I have ‘blown off’ the students, when exactly the reverse is true, and if anybody has been ‘blown off,’ it has been me.”

Esolen continued that students demanded a “response” from the school’s president, Father Brian Shanley, with some insisting he be fired. After meeting with the students, Shanley sent a letter to all faculty, staff, and both undergraduate and graduate students. The letter reads in part:

After dialoging with the students, I believe it is imperative for me to respond to their concerns.

Universities are places where ideas are supposed to be brought into conflict and questioned, so let us robustly debate the meaning of “diversity.” But we must also remember that words have an impact on those who hear or read them. When a professor questions the value of diversity, the impact on many students, faculty, and staff of color is to feel that their presence is not valued and that they are not welcome at Providence College. I have heard from many students about the pain that this causes. When student activists are described as “narcissists,” they understandably feel demeaned and dismissed. We need to be able to disagree with each other’s ideas without attaching labels to them or imputing motives that we cannot know.

Our Catholic mission at Providence College calls us to embrace people from diverse backgrounds and cultures as a mirror of the universal Church and to seek the unity of that Body in the universal love of Christ. Pope Francis has likened this communion to the weaving of a blanket, “woven with patience and perseverance, one which gradually draws together stitches to make a more extensive and rich cover.” He reminds us as well that what we seek is not “unanimity, but true unity in the richness of diversity.” Finally, Francis reminds us that “plurality of thought and individuality reflect the manifold wisdom of God when we draw nearer to truth with intellectual honesty and rigor, when we draw near to goodness, when we draw near to beauty, in such a way that everyone can be a gift for the benefit of others.” Amen.

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