Each morning I try to take a little time out to pray the Rosary. I find the prayers allow me to take a step back before getting into the activities of my day. Today, I found my prayers were disturbed by thoughts about Marquette University’s decision to rescind its offer to hire a Seattle University professor as Arts and Sciences dean.
Various reports identify the reason for rescinding the job offer as being related to the professor’s writings on marriage and gender issues, but unrelated to the fact Jodi O’Brien is a lesbian. This is a plausible explanation as Marquette University very likely employs the same proportion of gays and lesbians as occur in the general population (about 10%). Unfortunately, the questionable writings have not been identified so there is no reason, other than the fact the professor is a lesbian, to believe she would not serve the university and the community well in the position she was hired to do. I suspect Fr. Paul Hartmann more accurately described the problem when he said “My greatest fear..is that the important decision to be made in this moment will instead dichotomize university from Church and reason from faith,” The intriguing idea here is that of dichotomizing reason from faith.
While it is often much simpler to keep reason and faith separate both are often strengthened by the presence of the other. If the decision to rescind the job offer to professor O’Brien has nothing to do with her sexual orientation or political pressures it seems more likely there are fears the professor’s power of reason may overwhelm the university’s Catholic identity. This seems highly unlikely in a 131 year old institution.
I consider myself a person of faith and a person of reason. Why do I pray the Rosary most mornings? It is a part of my faith. I frequently question my faith but I rarely change my beliefs as a result of being exposed to others who are different from me.