Providence Fails Again

Providence Fails Again

Recently, I wrote an article about two college professors from different historical time periods who experienced similar difficulties in their respective universities. One of the professors was Dr. Anthony Esolen, formerly of Providence College. Dr. Esolen wrote two essays for Crisis magazine criticizing the Providence administration for its phony diversity program on campus and the school’s feckless defense of Catholic teaching on sexual morality. Several students were offended (what else is new?) by his views and insisted that he be fired, even though he had been teaching there for 26 years.

The president of the college sent an email to all the students, insisting that Dr. Esolen’s views about diversity were not shared by the president or the administration. In essence, Esolen had been libeled. Not willing to waste his time any longer at Providence, Esolen resigned shortly thereafter and took a position at Thomas More College in New Hampshire, where his faith and great knowledge are most welcome.

This incident should have shamed Providence, but now Claire Chretien, writing for LifeSite News, gives a disturbing account of how Providence has turned its back on Michael Smalanskas, a Catholic resident advisor. What did this poor soul do? Why, he had the temerity to put a message on the bulletin board outside his dorm room that reaffirmed Catholic teaching on marriage. Part of the message read, “Traditional marriage: God ordained it. Nature reveals it. Science affirms it.” Another part read, “Marriage should be reinforced. Not redefined!”

It did not take long before students began to vandalize the bulletin board and gather outside Smalanskas’ room to threaten and harass him. A cartoon on the dorm bathroom mirror threatened to sodomize Mr. Smalanskas.

As in the Esolen episode, the administration sided with the offended students. Chretien writes, “ . . . the college president, a Dominican priest, said, ‘it belongs to a Catholic college to consider the views of those who disagree with the Church’s teaching’ . . . Vice President of Student Affairs Kristine Goodwin sent an email to student leaders on March 14 encouraging them to attend a protest ‘against homophobia and transphobia.’”

At least one anonymous professor came to the defense of the embattled Smalanskas and told Chretien, “They [the administration] need to reaffirm clearly the Church’s teaching on marriage. Often times when they speak about it, they pit marriage against the dignity of the human person.” The fact that the professor did not want to be identified speaks volumes about the atmosphere at Providence. At the time of this writing, the college has apparently not reaffirmed Church teaching on marriage.

Eventually, the threats and harassment forced Smalanskas to move to an undisclosed location for this own safety. He will graduate this spring, but the threatening cartoon that the school chose to ignore may come back to bite the college. Smalanskas points out that his civil rights under Title IX may have been violated by the college’s inaction and that he is seriously considering a lawsuit.

The lunacy at Providence is the result of a larger problem plaguing so-called Catholic colleges–the official recognition by the administration of groups that represent a lifestyle that directly contravenes Catholic moral teaching. Specifically, I am referring to LGBTQ groups. According to the Cardinal Newman Society, the following Catholic colleges have LGBTQ clubs:

  • Georgetown University
  • Marquette University
  • Santa Clara University
  • Seattle University
  • University of Dayton
  • Saint Mary’s College (Cal.)
  • DePaul University
  • Loyola University
  • Barry University (Fla.) *

All of them celebrate the LGBTQ lifestyle by offering specific programs to for the students. For example, Georgetown offers a “Coming Out” month and a “Transgender Day of Remembrance”; Seattle University offers a “Coming Out to God” event; Loyola University hosts an annual “drag show,” and DePaul University raffled off 25 posters depicting St. Vincent DePaul waving an LGBTQ pride flag.

I am sure we would be shocked if an all-black college officially recognized a Ku Klux Klan student group. But why isn’t it just as shocking for a Catholic college to not only recognize purveyors of perversion but to embrace them and celebrate their lifestyle? Clearly, these colleges have lost their moral compass.

There is no reason for people like Anthony Esolen and Michael Smalanskas to be harassed or threatened for promoting Catholic teaching at a supposedly Catholic college. However, these kinds of incidents can be avoided if three rules are applied:

Rule Number One: No Catholic college can officially recognize groups on campus that contradict Catholic teaching. Students who don’t like it will be asked to find another place of learning that will accommodate their proclivities.

Rule Number Two: Students who threaten or harass other students or a faculty members will be permanently expelled. This will also apply to students who try to prevent a guest speaker from speaking on campus.

Rule Number Three: Catholic colleges that do not follow Rules One and Two will publicly lose their Catholic identification and will have to fold or go public.

On a positive note, Mr. Smalanskas and his fiancée will be married in the campus chapel this spring. Waxing philosophical, he said, “That will be our final witness to marriage for the school after all this is said and done.” And what a beautiful witness it will be.

* The list of Catholic colleges above is not exhaustive. I am sure there are more.

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Written by
Thomas Addis
  • Thomas,
    You feel justified to vilify a perfectly wonderful Catholic college based on two stories with common twists. Have you ever spoken to a representative of the college or a student or a parent of a student? There is more to this story than Smalanski reports, of course. But go ahead and feel great about yourself for marginal, uninformed reporting. Fortunately, you have few readers and this one is dropping out too.

  • Which is more sad, the lack of Catholic high schools that give the students a firm grounding in the faith, or the cowardly “catholic” colleges that lead Catholic students astray, by letting them think that the Catholic Church no longer abides by its traditional doctrines.