The "offensive" complaint: Catholic University responds

“The fact is that no Muslim student at Catholic University has registered a complaint with the University about the exercise of their religion on campus. And today we learned from an article in the Washington Post that [lawyer John] Banzhaf himself has not received any complaints from our Muslim students . . . Contrary to the impression Mr. Banzhaf would like to create, the December 2010 Post article spoke in overwhelmingly positive terms about the experience of Muslim students at Catholic University, and explained why they are attracted to us. A considerable part of the attraction stems from the fact that our community, because of its own outward expressions of Catholic faith, makes them feel comfortable living their faith among us. The evidence bears this out. Since 2007 our Muslim enrollment has more than doubled, from 56 to 122.”

–CUA President John Garvey, in a letter to students

He was responding to this complaint.

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33 responses to “The "offensive" complaint: Catholic University responds”

  1. George…

    “Liberal rags like the Washington Post evidently hate Catholic colleges.”

    What makes you say that? I found nothing in either of the WaPo pieces the suggested hate. Quite the opposite. CUA comes across as supportive of the Muslim students in a great many ways, and the Muslims in turn have glowing things to say about their experience. It seems also to be an excellent example of interfaith outreach and dialogue.

    Dcn. G.

  2. Deacon, I suspect that George really did not bother to read the article. Otherwise he would not have reacted as he did. Washington Post is routinely branded a liberal rag by the alleged news reporters at Fox News. Perhaps George was parroting…er, making the same observation.

    The story clearly shows that both the University and the Muslim students are comfortable with the current situation. It’s a shame that this interloper stirred up such a lawsuit as it is bringing unjustified criticism of both the University and the students from those extremists on both sides of the aisle who react before reading.

  3. Are you suggesting, Kevin, that we should become more like them? Or should we further demonstrate the advantages of living in a free, Christian nation by being extravagant in our love for even those who might not agree with our ways?

  4. Makes me proud to be an alumnus of the Catholic University of America!

    In the words of Cardinal James Hickey at a Catholic Charities fundraiser held in the Archdiocese of Washington, DC years ago, “We don’t do this because “they” are Catholic, but because WE are.”

    God bless,

    Deacon Bill

  5. Just stating a fact. I also dont see it as a cause for celebration that muslim enrollment is rising at CU. These are good students caught up in a terrible ideology and false concept of religion and God.

  6. Kevin #9: “I also dont see it as a cause for celebration that muslim enrollment is rising at CU. These are good students caught up in a terrible ideology and false concept of religion and God.”

    So much for sharing the Gospel, I guess.

  7. By all means, share it with them. “I am the way, the truth and the life; no one comes to the Father, but through me.” But we all know that doesn’t happen.

    Our genuine tolerance and compassion for others is one thing that makes Christianity vastly superior to other imitations. But let’s not be naive.

    The point is whether we really want to be lauding a doubling in the enrollment of muslims at a pontifical university (would it be a lame or bad thing if just Catholics were there? Are we still into that kind of self-loathing of our identity in America?) Especially at a time when Christian populations are disappearing from the middle east due to islamic violence and intolerance. Only in the West are statements like Dean Garvey’s on this particular issue even conceivable. Can any of us imagine an islamic educational institution patting itself on the back for an ever increasing number of Catholics who are allowed to worship there as they please?

  8. “Since in the course of centuries not a few quarrels and hostilities have arisen between Christians and Moslems, this sacred synod urges all to forget the past and to work sincerely for mutual understanding and to preserve as well as to promote together for the benefit of all mankind social justice and moral welfare, as well as peace and freedom.” (Vatican II, Nostra Aetate, 3)

    Well done, Catholic University.

  9. Reciprocity should be the touchstone of our relations, as several Vatican officials have stated:

    “Cardinal Jean-Louis Tauran said in 2003: ‘Just as muslims can build their houses of prayer anywhere in the world, the faithful of other religions should be able to do so as well.’ Pope Benedict has spoken of the need to respect the ‘convictions and religious practices of others so that, in a reciprocal manner, the exercise of freely-chosen religion is truly assured to all.”

  10. Are we talking about how Muslims and Roman Catholic get along in the everyday world of American life or were we talking about some stereotypical reactions of a select few whose idiocies are supposed to give the rest of us the “real and true” picture ?

    In the northeast Indiana/ northwest Ohio/ southeast Michigan region (comprising parts of the Roman Catholic Archdiocese of Detroit; the Roman Catholic Diocese of Fort Wayne/South Bend; and the Diocese of Toledo) there have to be somewhere near 25 mosques. Everyone of them goes out of their way to be friendly and outgoing to all in their wider communities. All are involved in positive and cooperative social service efforts. All of the mosques welcome non-Islamic visitors and during those orientation programs a LOT of stereotypes are broken down.

    –All three of the Ordinaries (the Archbishop of Detroit; the Bishop of Fort Wayne/South Bend; and the Bishop of Toledo) have appointed priests to the Midwest Muslim-Catholic Dialogue and have supported those meetings for years.

    –The Islamic Center of Toledo ministers to a congregation that has lived in that area for over a century. Its members consist of Islamic folks from over 24 separate national cultures — only four of them are Arabic but also four of them are Caucasian/European.

    –The nation with the largest raw number of Islamic believers among its citizens is also a very important political ally to the United States — Indonesia.

    –The publicly funded University of Toledo has a Center for Islamic Studies. The Roman Catholic Lourdes University has a close relationship with the Iman of the Islamic Center who is a welcome regular visitor.

  11. The story is told of a wife of a local Roman Catholic permanent deacon who was employed for many years as a “College Health Nurse” at a very large publicy funded community college. In that position, she managed the student clinic.

    Every day, for several months, a Muslim student would stop by her clinic at the appointed hour, and providing that she wasn’t using it for a clinical appointment, she let him use one of her treatment rooms as a secure and private place to pray.

  12. @ #4, Richard Johnson
    I find it interesting that you are quick to come to the defense of the Wash Post, but slam Fox News by referring to them as “alleged news reporters.” If you try to look for bias, you can find it everywhere.

  13. Before we jump all over Kevin, we need to really understand what he is getting at.

    Of course we should dialogue with muslims, love them and open our arm to them.


    How much are we as Catholics really trying to COVERT them. Many Catholics (unfortunaly in the past myself included) are afraid to proclaim the Gospel, are afraid to “offend” and are really more interested in being “inclusive” and “tolerant”. Especially in higher academia.

    I wonder how many of those Muslim students have actually been encouraged to convert, have the Gospel taught and proclaimed to them bodly? Hopefully many. Honestly, I don’t know. I readily admit that.

    Regarding this topic, just today at they have article that I really encourage all of you to read it.

    “Top Muslim Cleric Declares all Christians Infidels”‘infidels’/

    …..As a graduate of and long-time professor at Al Azhar university and grand mufti of Egypt (a position second in authority only to Sheikh Al Azhar), Ali Gomaa​ represents mainstream Islam’s — not “radical Islam’s” or “Islamism’s” — position concerning the “other,” in this case, Christians. Regardless, many in the West hail him as a “moderate” …..

    Sure many individual Muslims are wonderful people, but lets not mistake that with the political/religious ideology of Islam and Sharia Law. What the implications of that is for us in the future as our Muslim population grows.

    Despite our hopes and wishes, we have to understand that reciprocity of religious freedom is not a value of Islam. If you believe differently, please point to one example of Christians (or any other minority such as Hindus for that matter) in any Islamic country having the freedom to worship freely.

    What I am suggesting is we don’t have our heads in the sand. Lets honestly take a look at the examples we see in Islamic countries now, even so-called moderate ones. Also the examples of those countires with large muslim populations (France, England, Sweden). What do we see?

    Despite our best wishes, we have very few examples of peaceful coexistance. Sure we can point to many factors of why Christians do not have religious freedom in Egypt, Iraq, Lebanon, Saudi Arabia, Indonesia etc etc.

    But lets not delude ourselves into thinking that the religious/political entity of Islam as a governing body has any examples of religious liberty for non-muslims.

    I think thats what the larger context of this issue is all about. It’s not about “hating” Muslims, no one wants that. Its about looking at the issue without wishful thinking. Without imposing how we wish things would be with how they really are.

  14. The disturbing meme that seems to be echoed here by some (Kevin, perhaps Chris) is that our actions as Christians should somehow be influenced by the reactions of those around us. Specifically the clearly positive relationship between the CUA and their Muslim students should not be lauded given how some Muslim nations treat Christians.

    Can someone show me in the Bible (or for that matter in Catholic teachings) where the unconditional love that Christ modeled for us on the cross is not to be a model for our own behavior towards the world? Where are we told to only care for those who care for us? Where are we told to only demonstrate love to those who likewise demonstrate it towards us?

    To me it seems that the pernicious selfishness of secular libertarian politics has become the driving force behind the behavior of some, perhaps many in the (small “c”) church. The Muslim students at CUA seem content, and have expressed their support for the University in this matter by not siding with the interloper. The University has maintained its Catholic character while cultivating a good relationship with these non-Catholic students.

    Why is it that some here bemoan that? If the constant conservative call for Muslims to fully integrate into Western culture is sincere, then surely this example should be seen as a success.

  15. KathyG #16: “If you try to look for bias, you can find it everywhere.”

    Chris’ comment regarding the Washington Post being a liberal rag is easily disproven by a simple search, Kathy, and a simple read of the Washington Post editorial page. One simple example of hundreds that can be found is this piece from the paper itself, critiquing its support for the invasion of Iraq.

    Yes, Kathy…the liberal rag that was the Washington Post gave fairly consistent support to the Bush administration’s claims regarding Iraq. As this story points out their news editors buried a story questioning the administration’s position.

    Chris’ parroting of the Fox news meme regarding the Washington Post (and many other newspapers) is an example of the uncritical, lemming-like thinking that has become the hallmark of much of modern-day conservatism. Certainly there is bias in the news media, and there always has. But the bias is much more nuanced, much more complex than what the harpies of the extreme right or left would have us believe.

    Unfortunately simplistic answers have taken the place of thoughtful narrative in our media. And we are much the poorer for it.

  16. Chris…a question for you. Do you believe Muslims are correct in their beliefs regarding God and salvation? Would you consider them to be “unbelievers”, “infidels” or “unsaved”? Would you expect your religious leaders to declare them to be such?

    And since you see reciprocity of religious freedom lacking in countries you identify as Islamic in their governance, do you believe we should respond in a similar manner here in the US? Why or why not?

  17. Richard, you are adopting pacifism. Christianity does not require us to be pacifists. This is an approach that would have resulted in our country disappearing in World War II. We all would be speaking
    German now if we didn’t believe that sometimes you have to fight and exclude certain pernicious doctrines from our lives. Our actions were “influenced” by the actions of Germany; just as the actions of Al Qaeda influenced us.

    You are free to be a pacifist, but please don’t pretend that it is mandated by the gospels or the Church. Cardinal Tuaran, at least, would disagree with you.

  18. Kevin, you’re making a logical leap of superhuman magnitude. My question again is simple…because some countries you label as governed by Islamic principles have a record of denying religious freedom to non-Muslims, are you suggesting that our nation should likewise adopt a similar approach to Muslims such as these students at CUA?

    It is one thing to defend our nation from attacks, both foreign and domestic. My daughter currently serves in the Army, stationed in South Korea. I proudly display a Blue Star flag in my window at home. I have absolutely no problem with defending our nation and our people from attack.

    How are these students at CUA attacking us, Kevin? How are the peaceful Muslims mentioned by others here attacking us? How would you have us respond to this perceived attack, Kevin? Should we become more like Muslim nations and either deport or kill Muslims (or other non-Christians) who live among us?

  19. An interesting story just hit Drudge Report. Kevin, you might wish to check it out, since it is a reminder of the dangers of becoming too focused on fears rather than evidence.

    From that release: “U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Georgia Sally Quillian Yates said, “These defendants, who are alleged to be part of a fringe militia group, are charged with planning attacks against their own fellow citizens and government. To carry out their agenda, two of the defendants allegedly purchased purported explosives and a silencer, while the other two defendants took steps to attempt to produce a deadly biological toxin. While many are focused on the threat posed by international violent extremists, this case demonstrates that we must also remain vigilant in protecting our country from citizens within our own borders who threaten our safety and security.””

    Wise advice, indeed.

  20. Okay, a couple of things here. First off, somehow my name got mixed up with comments regarding FOX News and the WaPo. I really have no opinion on either, I do not read the wapo and I watch Fox News sparingly, so regarding any slant they have I am really not qualified to comment on.

    Richard, I appreciate your comments. Here are some thoughts regarding your questions.

    * Do you believe Muslims are correct in their beliefs regarding God and salvation?

    They reject Jesus as God nor do they believe in the Trinity. So no, I do not believe they are correct in their beliefs regarding salvation. HOWEVER, that does not mean I have any role in judging any particular Muslim in regard to their individual salvation, and would not attempt to do so….

    *Would you consider them to be “unbelievers”, “infidels” or “unsaved”?

    Infidel today is a uniquely Islamic term, and as such I would not use that word. Again, regarding being “unsaved”, I would speak generally regarding Islamic belief and the possibility of salvation. But I would never presume to judge the salvation of any individual Muslim. Speaking generally, its hard to consider how any particular Muslim who lives among Christians and persecutes them (Coptic Christian in Egypt, Maronites in Lebanon, Assyrians in Iraq, etc) can merit salvation.

    Unbeliever, well, the Catechism has touched on this briefly. I would consider them non-Christian, Non-Catholic, and as such an unbeliever as far as I can in considering what has been said in the Catechism.

    * And since you see reciprocity of religious freedom lacking in countries you identify as Islamic in their governance

    I don’t “see” it as lacking, it is lacking. You can’t build a Church in any Islamic country, that’s pretty clear cut….

    These countries identify themselves as Islamic and many of them use Sharia law in governance.

    * do you believe we should respond in a similar manner here in the US? Why or why not?

    Of course not…. What kind of a question is that…..

    I do think we should be aware of Islamic thought, the precedence of Islamic rule, and understand what happens as a natural course of that ideology. Sharia law is incompatible with democracy, religious freedom, and rights of minorities. It’s that simple, end of story.

    Why Does the Crucifix “Provoke” Muslims?

  21. Well said. Our parishes have emptied out over the last 40 years while muslims have expanded into europe and now the United States. We need to be aware of this. They view our tolerance as weakness in many cases, and it’s no secret that many imams intend to infiltrate our populations and bring our system down from within.

    My original comment had solely to do with Dean Garvey’s observation that the enrollment of muslims had doubled. I understand the context in which he made it, i.e., defending a frivolous administrative charge, but I found it remarkable in a broader sense.

  22. Chris #25: “Sharia law is incompatible with democracy, religious freedom, and rights of minorities. It’s that simple, end of story.”

    Actually, Sharia law had *nothing* to do with the story above. It was about a fine university, some Muslim students who are happy to be studying there, an nuisance lawsuit, and the ability of some to jump to conclusions.

    Kevin #26: ” We need to be aware of this. They view our tolerance as weakness in many cases, and it’s no secret that many imams intend to infiltrate our populations and bring our system down from within.”

    Do you see these Muslim students at CUA as engaged in an effort to “bring our system down from within”?

    Help me here, Chris and Kevin. What do a few dozen Muslim students living in peace while studying at CUA have to do with the ramblings of an Islamic cleric in Egypt? It seems to me that you two are casting yourself in the same knee-jerk camp as our litigious-happy fool, Banzhaf.

  23. Richard, do you know how many muslims have come here under student visas and later perpetrated terrorist acts against the United States and its military? I’m sure these particular students are as pure as the driven snow, but your naivete is astounding.

  24. Kevin #28: “Richard, do you know how many muslims have come here under student visas and later perpetrated terrorist acts against the United States and its military?”

    No, Kevin. I don’t have that figure handy. I know that, according to the 9/11 Commission Report, one of the 9/11 terrorists overstayed a student visa. I also know that a Saudi man was arrested in Texas in February of this year for plotting an attack, and that he was here on a student visa. I also know that there have been at least three investigations of fraud in obtaining/issuing student visas that have resulted in arrests. This is all information readily available on the Homeland Security website.

    Can you show me from some similarly reliable sources (FBI, Homeland Security, Interpol, state law enforcement, etc.) how many people in the US on student visas from Muslim countries have been arrested for committing or planning terrorist acts? I assume that, since you are so concerned, you have some solid evidence that there are a number of such people here and are not just acting on rumor or unfounded suspicions.

    Again, as the recent arrests of domestic terrorists prove, it is best to focus on real threats and real evidence rather than fear, uncertainty and doubt. The former results in plots being thwarted and lives being saved. The latter simply wastes resources that could be better used elsewhere.

    Now, how many Muslim students have come here on student visas and have been arrested for terrorist acts or plots?

  25. Not to get in between an obvious cat-fight between you and Richard but . . .


    I really do not know of any Muslims who have used a student visa to commit terrorists acts. Do you ? Really ?

  26. Fiergenholt…

    According to this report:

    US Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) last year disrupted a ring that provided fake or valid student visas to students in The United States although they did not attend class as required. Faisal Shahzad, the Times Square bomber, also entered the United States on a student visa in 1998, eventually becoming a US legal resident, Bilirakis added.

    Indeed, several of the 19 hijackers who carried out the terrorist attacks of 9/11 overstayed and abused their student visas to remain in the United States for their plot.

    Dcn. G.

  27. I believe that report quotes Rep. Bilirakis’ website, which asserts that several of the 9/11 hijakers had student visas. The 9/11 Report and the Department of Homeland Security put the number of hijakers in that category at 1 and 2 respectively. The Times Square bomber also entered the country via student visa, but later became a US citizen prior to his crime.

    So…we have what, 3?

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