The following comes from a November 1 story in the National Catholic Reporter entitled “University withdraws theologian’s invitation after pressure from financial contributors.” Nowhere in the story is pressure from financial contributors explained.
The original Cal Catholic story on this subject, itself from the Cardinal Newman Society website, ran on Monday (October 29).
The University of San Diego has canceled a visiting fellowship for a British theologian less than two weeks before her scheduled arrival at the university because of pressure from financial contributors, according to a letter from the university’s president.
Tina Beattie, a professor of Catholic studies at London’s private University of Roehampton known for her work in contemporary ethical issues and Catholic understandings of feminism, received notice of the cancellation Oct. 27. She was scheduled to take residence at the university on Tuesday.
Beattie — who also serves on the board of directors of the British Catholic weekly The Tablet and is a theological adviser to the Catholic Agency For Overseas Development, the Catholic aid agency for England and Wales — announced the withdrawal of the invitation in an email to friends and other theologians Thursday.
Beattie said in an interview with NCR that cancellation of her fellowship was “symptomatic of something very new and very worrying.”
“It’s unheard of, certainly in Britain, for a theologian in my position to feel threatened by this kind of action,” Beattie said. “It’s not about me; it’s about some change in the culture of the Catholic church that we should be very, very concerned about.”
Prominent theologians in the U.S. and the UK called the university’s treatment of Beattie “an insult” and “dispiriting” and worried that it might have a chilling effect in the academic world. Several said they had written directly to university president Mary Lyons about the matter.
Calls to the University of San Diego for comment were not immediately returned Thursday.
Beattie said she was notified that her invitation to be a fellow at the university’s Frances G. Harpst Center for Catholic Thought and Culture had been withdrawn in a letter from Lyons….
In Lyons’ letter, which Beattie shared in her email, Lyons writes that Beattie publicly dissents from church teaching.
“The Center’s primary mission, consistent with those who have financially supported the Center, is to provide opportunities to engage the Catholic intellectual tradition in its diverse embodiments,” Lyons wrote.
“This would include clear and consistent presentations concerning the Church’s moral teachings, teaching with which you, as a Catholic theologian, dissent publicly. In light of the contradiction between the mission of the Center and your own public stances as a Catholic theologian, I regretfully rescind the invitation that has been extended to you.”
In the letter, Lyons offers to reimburse Beattie for travel-related expenses and says she and the university “hope to mitigate any inconvenience this decision may have created for you.”
Beattie asked Lyons to reconsider, but was told the decision was final, Beattie wrote in her email to friends….
To read entire National Catholic Reporter story, click here.
To read the letter from USD to Beattie, click here.