David had some good thoughts on the recent brouhaha at Georgetown when President Obama asked them to cover the monogram of Christ’s name during a speaking event. He sent a letter to the President of the university:
Georgetown’s Catholic and Jesuit identity makes it unique. As its mission statement notes, Georgetown was “founded on the principle that serious and sustained discourse among people of different faiths, cultures, and beliefs promotes . . . understanding.” And it “provides excellent . . . education in the Jesuit tradition for the glory of God.” Indeed, its founder, John Carroll, the Jesuit priest who became America’s first Catholic bishop, envisioned “a national University rooted in the Catholic faith and Jesuit tradition, committed to spiritual inquiry, engaged in the public sphere, and invigorated by religious and cultural pluralism.”
With this special identity comes special responsibility. As you noted in your inaugural address, Jesuit Father Erich Przywara once observed that Jesuit universities must “interpret the Church to the world and the world to the Church.” In saying this, he echoed Christ’s commis sion for us to be “the salt of the earth” and “the light of the world.” But last week, rather than “embody[ing] this responsibility”—even through the silent witness of a solitary monogram—you chose to hide the Church from the world and to “put [your candle] under a bushel.”
Spiritually, this decision is dubious, bringing to mind Christ’s warning to those “that shall deny Me before men.” Inexplicably, at the precise moment when the world was watching, Georgetown — a university founded by members of the Society of Jesus — refused to display even a monogram of His name. But by concealing its religious identity at the behest of the government, Georgetown also went against the best of the Catholic tradition. For example, St. Thomas More paid a dear price for refusing to conform his religious convictions to the dictates of the king. But his courage echoes through history, as he declared that “he died the King’s good servant, but God’s first.” Sadly, when facing consequences far less severe, you opted to invert his allegiances.
Read the whole thing here.