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May 23, 2006

University Of St. Thomas Apologizes For Too Catholic Graduation Address

I guess we can’t have folks at a Catholic speaker express Catholic teachings at a Catholic university – it might be offensive.

A spring term that began with controversy at the University of St. Thomas ended the same way Saturday when a student used part of his commencement address to admonish people he considered "selfish," including women who use birth control.

The remarks by Ben Kessler, a well-known student recently honored by peers and faculty as Tommie of the Year, led to catcalls and boos during commencement at the Catholic university in St. Paul. Others booed those who were booing. Some students walked out on their own graduation ceremony.

Buzz about the incident dominated post-graduation parties, spread throughout the community and sparked a flurry of e-mails. By Monday, there were scattered requests to strip Kessler of his Tommie of the Year award and questions about why St. Thomas officials didn't try to pull the plug on Kessler's speech as the crowd's unhappiness intensified.

"He definitely ruined the day for pretty much everyone in the audience," said Darin Aus, who was awarded his bachelor's degree Saturday and stayed for the entire ceremony. "He made people mad enough to leave their own graduation."

Kessler, a celebrated football player with a deep Catholic faith, apologized Monday in a written statement distributed by the university.

"Instead of providing hope to all, I offended some by my words and by my decision to speak those words at commencement," he wrote.

He was unavailable for comment beyond the statement.

The university's president, the Rev. Dennis Dease, also expressed regret "that graduates and their families and guests were offended by Mr. Kessler's remarks." Dease said he told Kessler it was inappropriate for him to use commencement to express his opinions.

The problem is, what he said didn’t just express his opinions – they also expressed the teachings of Catholic Church.

I guess Father Dennis Dease is one of those priests who doesn’t think the last four popes should have expressed their opinions on the issue of birth control, either.

I guess this is jus one more example of folks thinking that the expression of conservative or traditional or Christian viewpoints on a college campus is wrong, while the expression of secular liberalism is to be celebrated.

Even if the venue is a school allegedly founded and operating on Christian values.

I, for one, applaud Ben Kessler for standing up for Catholic teachings at a Catholic school – even if the administrators are too lukewarm in their faith to do so.





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Comments on University Of St. Thomas Apologizes For Too Catholic Graduation Address

Opinions are a dime a dozen. He had every right to say what he said even though many, including myself, believe he was acting in a self-righteous, holier than thou attitude that will cause anger and create the need to defend oneself. If one is attacked physically one tends to fight back. No one can say their beliefs are absolute, even the catholic church. Religion is based on faith, not fact.

|| Posted by Mark Elijah, May 26, 2006 03:13 PM ||

Actually, religion makes the claim to be ultimate truth, and therefore the ultimate in fact.

Interestingly enough, you seem to want to equate a statement of religious belief with a physical attack.

And do you note your own hypocrisy in making the statement "No one can say their beliefs are absolute"? That is, after all, an absolute statement about your own beliefs, applied to all individuals in all circumstances. Unless what you REALLY meant to say is that "No one EXCEPT FOR ME can say their beliefs are absolute".

|| Posted by Rhymes With Right, May 26, 2006 03:26 PM ||
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