Commencement speaker at Catholic university: “Christianity is the most dangerous of devotions”

Here we go again:

The nation’s largest Catholic university will feature a commencement speaker who believes “the rest of life would benefit enormously” from the extinction of mankind, considers Christianity “the most dangerous of devotions,” and boasted about weakening the “dissolutive, oppressive institutions of organized religion.”

Population guru E.O. Wilson will address a combined ceremony of DePaul University‘s College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences and its College of Science and Health on June 10. The date is his 83rd birthday.

Although he is by training a myrmecologist who has discovered 450 different kinds of ants, the Harvard professor made his name as the father of sociobiology in the 1970s.

Along the way, he has expressed his enthusiasm for “population control,” internationalism, and displacing the “oppressive” force of religion.

While being interviewed for the 1999 Canadian radio series “From Naked Ape to Superspecies,” Wilson stated “if all humanity disappeared the rest of life would benefit enormously…the forests would grow back, the whole Earth would green up, the ocean would teem, and so on.” However, “If the ants were all to disappear, the results would be close to catastrophic.”

Population, he believes, has reached a catastrophic breaking point. In 2002, he told PBS’s Ben Wattenberg, “We all, or most all, realize that humanity has pushed its population growth pretty close to the limit. We really are at risk of using up natural resources and developing shortages in them that will be extremely difficult to overcome.” He added, “We have this bright prospect down the line that humanity is not going to keep on growing much more in population…and then begin to decline.”

In his 2003 book The Future of Life, he wrote, “The encouragement of population control by developing countries comes not a moment too soon.”

Wilson was optimistic that “we are draining away the instinctual energy from nationalism — that’s a big help.”

“I think we’re seeing the beginning of the draining away from the dreadfully dissolutive, oppressive institutions of organized religion,” he said.

Read the rest.


  1. Kathy Schiffer says:

    I was working at the University of Detroit Mercy, and I attended a lecture by John Saliba, S.J., who had written on “New Religious Movements”. He talked about Heavensgate, the serin massacre in the subway, Jonestown, Waco– all destructive, suicidal cults. A man raised his hand to ask: “What, in your estimation, is the MOST destructive cult?”

    Father Saliba didn’t hesitate. His response: “Charismatic Catholics.”

    But don’t get me started. It’s one of a hundred reasons why I left the university.

  2. I always wonder why those who advocate population control, don’t start with themselves.

    I guess it is the old, do as I say, and not as I do crowd.

  3. Can we just get this over with and have some truth in advertising?

    These ‘Catholic’ colleges are just secular institutions who have disdain for Christians. It would just be easier for the colleges to end the charade and drop the Catholic title.

    Was Joseph Kony not available as a commencement speaker at DePaul this year?

  4. Gee who’s next; Melinda Gates? I’m in the process of writing an extensive rebutal to Melinda’s “project” based on her own words. For now, here’s a short version:

    According to Catholic Melinda, with her ‘social justice’ training from her Ursuline Academy, despite being against church teachings, has just informed us that her signature project will be to contracept the 3rd world! Even worse, according to the recent Newsweek article, her mentoring nuns from Ursaline Academy have “cheered her on.”

    Imagine that, 4 billion dollars, Depo-Provera for every 3rd world fertile women, and let’s just pretend this is really compassion and not eugenics/population control, and or an attack on family and faith. It’s also interesting to note that unlike the modern world, the 3rd world did not oppose Humane Vitae; consequently, especially in Africa, Catholicism is thriving.

    Better yet, let’s imagine that those Ursaline nuns, instead of teaching Melinda their version of “social justice”, had maybe introduced Melinda to Pope John XXIII’s masterful letter, “Mater et Magistra.

    Besides, God in His Goodness and wisdom has diffused in nature inexhaustible resources and has given to man the intelligence and genius to create fit instruments to master it, and to turn it to satisfy the needs and demands of life. Hence the real solution of the problem is not to be found in expedients that offend the moral order established by God and which injure the very origin of human life. They are to be found in a renewed scientific and technical effort on the part of man to deepen and extend his dominion over nature. The progress of science and technology, already realized, opens up in this direction limitles horizons.

  5. Okay, so the guy is a scientist. His comments about human beings and ants are likely correct, scientifically. Although cultured plants and animals wouldn’t fare so well in a world depopulated of human beings. Corn, cultured flowers, lawns, and domesticated pets would also die off.

    Christianity has been pretty dangerous, especially since the Reformation (sorry, Prots) and it didn’t do so well for people between Great Schism and the Gutenberg Bible either.

    His observations are accurate enough, coming from a scientific/rational perspective. While it seems that they are presented as opinions–and to some extent they are–there is some difficult news in them that we would do well to consider.

    The issue of overpopulation would be a fascinating topic to study, blending the ecological and theological perspectives. There’s a lot of ignorance on all sides of that matter. But disinviting Dr Wilson isn’t going to further the discussion.

    You know, it’s too bad that universities don’t invite these people to a week-long panel discussion where the issues of the day could get talked out and people might learn something. I’m more convinced than ever that commencement speakers are irrelevant, except perhaps politically. And since when has politics ever advanced understanding or faith?

  6. Peregrinus says:

    I found the inclusion of “internationalism” on the list of his offenses interesting. Of course I would love to do away with nation states and the like, but I suspect there are a lot of people who really think that the division of world into countries is God’s will or something.

  7. As a professor, I have perhaps a jaundiced view. The least enjoyable, least memorable, and least useful or most time wasting part of a commencement is the commencement speaker. I think that too much is made of the person – colleges invite speakers for who knows what reason, and mostly give little thought to the ramifications – they look at as version of one-upsmanship – look who we got. But having sat through a number of them I can summarize all commencement speeches -”thank your families for their support, thank your professors for their wisdom, go forth do not be afraid and do good things. Thank you”

  8. I’m with you, Andy. But it’s just possible Wilson will speak his real thoughts, and deliver a memorable commencement address: “Parents, what were you thinking, bringing these kids into the world that would have been so much better for the ants without them? Graduates, go forth and whatever you do, do not increase and multiply. In fact, if you could arrange to die off today you’d eliminate the temptation to make the world so much worse for the ants. Unless, of course, you are altruistic and are reproducing solely to pass along the altruism gene–which, in spite of what it sounds like is really just a factor that rewards unselfish behavior with selfish perks–which I personally discovered. In ants.”

  9. Andy all the more reason we need some solid Catholic speakers who see the world through non secular eyes. Mother Theresa sure knew how to give a worthwhile commencement speech.

  10. I think we have a far more dangerous trend: the division of the world into powerful corporations. Democratic nations at least have the hope of voting the powerful out of office. Corporations are run more like communist countries: no voice for the workers, all the power and money concentrated at the top, and incompetence becomes irrelevant for the continuation of the system. Which is sort of like Divine Right of Kings, except lacking the moral underpinnings of European feudalism.

  11. The cynical part of me thinks that is what Georgetown is doing with their invite of Sec. Sebelius: force the issue in order to be confronted by authority and then use that confrontation to justify their disaffiliation (is that a word?) with the Church.

    While the analogy is not perfect, by any means, isn’t that the end result of the recent controversy in Phoenix? Before the Church asserted its authority, the conduct of Catholic Healthcare West was arguably at odds with Church teaching; after the Church asserted its authority, CHW became Dignity Health, a “California-based not-for-profit public benefit corporation.”

    I don’t pretend to know what is in the hearts and minds of Georgetown’s leadership, but the leadership must have anticipated a confrontation as a result of inviting of Sec. Sebelius and, on some level, gamed out the possible responses from the Church and likely outcomes.

    As part of that exercise, Georgetown’s leadership must know that there will always be support for this kind of confrontation amongst opinion leaders. See, e.g. Nicholas D. Kristoff, Tussle over Jesus (New York Times, January 26, 2011) (“With the Vatican seemingly as deaf and remote as it was in 1517, some Catholics at the grass roots are pushing to recover their faith. Jamie L. Manson, the same columnist for National Catholic Reporter who proclaimed that Jesus had been “evicted,” also argued powerfully that many ordinary Catholics have reached a breaking point and that St. Joseph’s heralds a new vision of Catholicism: ‘Though they will be denied the opportunity to celebrate the Eucharist, the Eucharist will rise out of St. Joseph’s every time the sick are healed, the frightened are comforted, the lonely are visited, the weak are fed, and vigil is kept over the dying.’ Hallelujah”).

    Long story short, while I generally stay away from Comboxes in an effort to keep my blood pressure down and avoid indulging my own arm-chair speculations, but I am at a loss to explain this recent spate of commencement speakers whose conduct is so clearly antithetical to Church teaching on core issues.

  12. I’ve read Wilson’s book on ants. He strikes me as a competent teacher. I suspect his address would be more critical and analytical, less full of personal conclusions.

    I’d love to have a talk with the guy. I could blow a few holes in his scientific conclusions, and I wouldn’t even need to resort to Christianity to do it.

    And as for the Christians, the Earth has indeed been subdued. Now that we’ve achieved this, what happens with the Genesis mandate? Logically, we all agree that overpopulation is a problem. It’s just that scientists and Christians differ on when that moment occurs.

    Are we there today? I don’t think so, because the problems of hunger are all political–the distribution of food and water and medical care.

    Does it happen when the Earth has fifty trillion people–enough to give every person a 5-by-5 ft piece of land? I think we’d all agree that would be overpopulation, right? At what point does the responsibility to future generations outweigh the biological urge/theological mandate to procreate? It’s somewhere between 7 billion and 50 trillion, right?

  13. Joseph Wingate says:

    So Todd, are you an advocate for contraception, sterilization…, abortion?

  14. I thought commencement speakers are supposed to be uplifting and encouraging. Whoever picked this pissant, even if intending someone “famous” – should be fired.

    “Go kill yourselves” is a great message. I’d walk out. Mail me my diploma pls.

    A better message would be:
    “As a graduate, you should have learned that investigations bring up more questions than answers. You are tasked to take this sacred truth to the world and carry on that eternal search for more answers. If you stay here, you could stagnate and forget the big picture, get fixated on one truth in opposition to all other truths. You could go insane like me. So go run, run for your your lives”

    After which the speaker puts his fingers to his temples like antennae, moves them back an forth saying. “Bow to your ant overlords”.

  15. No, I’m not.

    But I invite you to answer the question: at what point do humans overpopulate the Earth? One person per acre–32 billion? A family-of-six per acre–almost 200 billion? SRO ten floors deep–2 quadrillion. Doubling the human population every thirty years gives us that last level in six centuries.

  16. Let me offer another question to the disinvite crowd …

    China does practice government-mandated abortion and sterilization. How many of you participate remotely in this evil by buying products made in China? And if you do, are you not hypocrites too?

  17. John Klocke says:

    This question is a little too simple. There’s a moral difference between formal cooperation–agreeing with the actual evil that someone is doing–and material cooperation–helping someone do that evil by giving them business, etc. One has to look at the situation and decide when the material cooperation we are all tied up in can be substituted with a realistic alternative that doesn’t involve material cooperation with evil. It is virtually impossible to avoid material cooperation nowadays. This is where we have to take a deep breath and not be too scrupulous or put too big of a burden on ourselves.

  18. Klaire – I don’t disagree, but unfortunately for most colleges and universities the commencement speaker is a feather in the cap of the institution or a repayment for donating money. The issue of inviting a speaker who might challenge the students in any direction are gone, primarily because of the desire for graduates and their families to hit the road. Maybe my cynicism coming out or a secret wish to shorten the event.
    A truly inspirational speaker should be a person who speaks at the baccalaureate service. It at this time the speaker actually has the attention of the students. In my experiences it is at this service where students are challenged and where ideas are explored. I would bet that Mother Teresa would have been stellar.

  19. “… but I am at a loss to explain….”

    One pretty oblivious explanation of why the leaders of many of these formerly Catholic colleges invite such speakers as President Obama and Secretary Sebilius, is that they appreciate and value their significant contributions to the Left’s agenda.


  20. Correction’ Should be “obvious” not “oblivious”.

  21. Oh, I’d be very happy not to buy Chinese made products if I could find any that I could afford.

  22. @Fred. In the name of civility, we could do without the “Duh?”

    As to the substance of your comment, in DePaul’s case, is there something about DePaul or the Vincentians that you think makes them want to select a commencement speaker as a way to “appreciate and value their significant contributions to the Left’s agenda?”

    In other words, I don’t think of DePaul or the Vincentians as being on any one particular side of the political divide, as one thinks of Georgetown (or Boston College) and the Jesuits to be aligned with the Left or Liberal side of the political spectrum. Am I wrong in this view?

    Similarly, can you explain to me how the “Left’s agenda” (your characterization) is coextensive with “conduct is so clearly antithetical to Church teaching on core issues” (my question)? It seems to be that, generally speaking, both the Left or the Right (or Liberals and Conservatives, if you like) have, from time to time, both expressed views that are clearly antithetical to Church teaching on core issues. Am I wrong in this view?

  23. deacon john m. bresnahan says:

    So what else is new. Colleges and universities -even most Catholic ones–have become nothing but liberal brainwashing operations. A columnist for a major Boston newspaper (Margery Eagan–usually a super-liberal– of the Boston Herald) strongly criticized how graduation speakers around the country give only one point of view–the liberal to radical point of view. By her count extreme liberal graduation speakers outnumbered conservative speakers 7 to 1.
    In the meanwhile parents and student’s loans are funding an educational establishment that is exploding in cost faster than the cost of medical care.
    And if the mainstream media weren’t of the same overall liberal persuasion the scandals going on at universities might be targeted as much as Wall Street scandals.
    For example the powerhouse liberal Boston Globe (owned by the liberal NY Times) is mostly ignoring the scandal at liberal Harvard University involving a liberal professor who apparently claimed fraudulently to be a Cherokee Indian ( which gave her a “leg-up” for diversity promotion consideration). But she won’t allow her academic employment application records to be released to see how much her fraud may (or may not) have been used to help her advance. We do know that she listed herself as a Cherokee in a book used by academic “head-hunters” looking for diversity hires.( She may, according to her latest account, be 1/32 Cherokee, but that can’t be confirmed from various birth and marriage records of her ancestors.) And, Oh yes! she is the darling of liberal donors from Boston to Hollywood to the point that most other Democrats have been driven from the Ma. U.S. Senate primary race because they can’t match the dough locally that she is rolling in from all points of the liberal compass.

  24. Ah! So are you saying that if ideal moral standards are too costly, then believers are not obligated to hold to them? If moral standards carry too-heavy burdens, we are relieved of responsibility?

    What about overpopulation, my friends? At what point does the world have too many people? Nobody’s touching that question, I see. It’s not in the CCC, is it? It’s a most uncomfortable theology to go where no theologian has gone before.

  25. Bishop Desmond Tutu was the speaker for the college commencement for one of my daughters a few years ago. I found his speech interesting, just because of what he did. The speech game me an opportunity to see and hear someone who has made a real contribution to our planet. He received an honorary degree and declared that he was a Spartan!

  26. An amusing post, John, with a few problems:

    - Commencement speakers don’t speak to the country; they speak to most of the graduates at a single institution.

    - Wall Street scandals have impacted practically the entire world. Millions out of work. Millions more scrambling to keep families together on two or more salaries. Dr Wilson speaking at DePaul isn’t going to impact the job market much more than keeping a few LSN employees busy.

    - The Harvard prof was a woman–that’s usually diverse enough to nudge aside the lesser men. I think she’s more of a threat to the 1%–they get nervous when the Dems start talking about putting the corporate gravy train out to pasture.

  27. I have always thought this myself. Of course, these people think they are too important to humanity that they, above all others, should counsel the rest of us. He is getting very close to meeting his maker; I fear it will not go well. Sad, so very sad.

  28. pagansister says:

    I agree, Andy, with the notion that commencement speakers are a waste of time. I have absolutely no idea who spoke at my university commencement in 1968—-and I probably couldn’t have told you 5 minutes after I received my diploma. Just do a little music and start passing out the diploma’s! :o)

  29. “Doubling the human population every thirty years gives us that last level in six centuries.”

    I am very concerned about what will happen 6 centuries from now. NOT. I doubt the world will be around then by the way things are going now.

  30. Ralphyboy says:

    Isn’t this the same guy who warned that the population explosion would literally cause the biomass of humans to extend out into the universe at the speed of light? He also has no degree in demographics, correct?

  31. Thankfully, Todd, world population is out of your hands and in God’s hands. Mother Teresa said that the reason we have the poor is because we do not share. This is the bigger problem, rather than statistical counts of human beings and how much space they take up and resources they use.

  32. But don’t get me started.

    OK, I won’t. But he has a point (or could, depending where he’s coming from). The sentimentalization of faith and worship can be very damaging.

    I don’t doubt your larger point, that UDM had discarded its Catholic identity.

  33. I asked my daughter, who is a few years out of college, and she said she noticed nothing liberal or conservative in her major courses. Many majors are not into politics.

    Hopefully most college graduates, as well as the rest of us, are mature enough to hear speakers from different sides and make up their own mind on issues.

  34. Hi Sheila, but you didn’t answer the question. People on this thread and others have opined, someimes even rudely, about speakers at universities. It would seem that the choice of hiring speakers is in others’ hands there, too. But it doesn’t stop them from offering a comment.

    What is the opinion of the commentariat here: when would the Earth be overpopulated? There may be no wrong or right answer. And nobody’s going to hell for making a mistake on it.

  35. Democratic nations at least have the hope of voting the powerful out of office.

    Wasn’t aware there were any.

  36. Ah, so if a moral decision doesn’t affect us personally, we are not obliged to make a statement on it, or even take a stand. Is that right?

  37. Michael P says:

    I hope that the students at these Universities that borrow the Catholic name have the courage to get up and turn their backs to the speaker during the speech or walk out before the speeches commence. That would speak volumes especially if MANY students do this.

  38. Michael P says:

    Yes I am replying to myself…this is not a forum for debate. It is a one sided forum that does not allow for rebuttal. If it were as I said a place to openly discuss the issues then that would be appropriate.

  39. when would the Earth be overpopulated?

    It’s a pointless question, Todd. We’ll never find out how many lives this world can support because we’ll always be greedy and violent.

  40. Todd, are you announcing your hands are clean? I’ll bet you fast twice a week too. How nice for you.

  41. Todd, I’ll answer you as a biologist. All populations interact with their living and non-living environments and at some point reach what is known as the carrying capacity of the environment. At that point competition, starvation, disease will put a halt to population growth.

    Absent technological advances in agrarian science and prudent political leadership, the likely result would be mass starvation of humans and wars which would thin the global herd.

    In reality, the earth is headed toward a population implosion by the end of this century because of birth control, abortion, and the social pressure of vilifying families with more than one or two children. Here’s an excellent article from Human Life International, whose epidemiology and scientific rigor are unparalleled:

    We’re actually headed into a demographic winter as the Baby Boom generation dies out and successive generations have fallen below replacement levels.

  42. Right

  43. May 17th: I do wonder why the title “Catholic” has not been removed from these Institutions. Because they hold the title “Catholic”, they have more influence, parents send their children there and they confuse Catholics and others who trust they are indeed Catholic since the retain the title. Same thing with so called ‘Catholic’ politicians like Pelosi, Biden, Sebelius, et al…they stand defiantly against the Church on essential issues such as abortion, same sex marriage, euthanasia and they declare that influential Catholics such as Sr. Keehan are on their side and that the Bishops and the Church have lost touch with reality. This confuses Catholics who are not secure in their faith and disheartens Catholics who practice their faith…many Bishops are speaking out more boldly, but not all. We need to pray for our Bishops that they will have the courage to proclaim the truth of Christ’s teachings through the Church no matter what the cost. And we need to stand with them when they do, and challenge them respectfully when they don’t.

  44. Remember that Joe Biden, a Catholic in good standing, went to Africa (I forget exactly where – Uguanda?) and used pressure to get the government to include abortion rights in their new constitution, assuring them that if they did, then the money would flow…this despite the fact that Africans do not want to kill their unborn babies – Biden, Pelosi, Sebelius are channels of evil and they stand against the Church while declaring that they represent the Church – and yet, they are permitted to receive the Eucharist as Catholics in good standing. What must they do, I wonder, in order to not be considered Catholics in good standing?!!

  45. Pointless or not, it remains a question you choose not to answer. Afraid of the consequences?

  46. Not announcing anything. Just asking you to answer the question. No need to get personal.

  47. When I was born in 1950, the US population was about 150 million. The US Census projects that in 2050 the population will be above 430 million. Certainly immigration has something to do with the increase. Most of the studies I have seen indicate that many factors contribute to smaller family size. Education is one of those factors. After 2050, the population of baby boomers will be on the decline. The population demographics will be more stable from age group to age group.

  48. Anyone who has spent his time determining that there are 450 kinds of ants is a tad strange!

  49. Gerard, I would tend to agree with you that a crash is likely before the end of the century. I think it more likely that climate change will reach a tipping point and that an alteration in monsoons followed by widespread hunger and unrest will crash Asia’s population.

    HLI’s blind spot is thinking that the whole world is like white middle-class pro-life America.

    My follow-up question is this: If we allow “God’s will” and all cultures were expanding in population to, say, thirty billion, and further if a crash eliminated ninety or more percent of the population, and because of sinful, violent, and selfish human nature we have an expectation of this, are we more moral for letting, say, twenty-seven billion people starve to death than we are–even taking abortion off the table, for argument’s sake–exercising self-control as a society by, let’s say, “social pressure”?

    I’m not surfacing this argument to be cute. I think its a real moral dilemma. I have serious doubt that many people, not just conservatives who’d rather not think about it all, have given it much consideration at all.

  50. 12,643 species counted, as of December 2011.

  51. Todd, I’ll try to explain this very simply: the question is pointless because it’s unanswerable. My choice in the matter is vain and irrelevant.

    Todd, it is you who’s afraid, of what this implies about the world and our need for a redeemer. You do not accept this because you are a liberal and as such believe that if only the clever and enlightened could be put in charge of things, the world can be gradually perfected through human agency, . I am conservative and as such believe that fallen human nature suffers from irremediable concupiscence. I believe that human agency is finite and fallible, that the clever and enlightened in their pride, notwithstanding good intentions, frequently make things even worse than they find them, so that moral problems ebb and flow but will never go away till Christ comes again.

    Friends don’t let friends immanentize the eschaton, Todd.

  52. HLI’s blind spot is thinking that the whole world is like white middle-class pro-life America.

    Todd I doubt HLI is warning of a demographic winter because they see the whole world as dangerously pro-life.

  53. sake–exercising self-control as a society by, let’s say, “social pressure”?

    Shall I put that down as a vote for Mandatory Voluntarism?

  54. Rom, I think you can speak accurately of what you believe. I think you’re out of your element when you attempt to communicate what I believe.

    I will say that I distrust the “clever and enlightened,” and I prefer human discernment instead, the widest possible range of human experiences and knowledge. I pretty much reject the general notion of infallibility of authority figures, which is another way of longing for the “right” people to be put in charge.

    I recognize pessimism when I see it. I prefer optimism, an appropriate outlook when people cooperate with God’s grace. While I think human beings do get in our own way and perfection is something we can never achieve on our own, I do feel optimistic about the intervention of grace.

    I do not know, but I suspect the questions I posed here today make people feel very uncomfortable. It puts conservatives on unsteady ground. Some of you seem very ready to judge me, question me, and level insults. The same people are unwilling to answer questions in turn.

    I’m not afraid of tough questions. Unlike some others.

  55. Nope. As a liberal, I vote for self-determination.

    I think people are free to abuse alcohol, for example. But I think it’s in the good interests of society to criticize drunk driving.

    I happen to think large families are a good thing. But I don’t understand why more large families don’t adopt. I don’t know, but I suspect it’s less about family size than some people think.

  56. I’d like to read his comments in context. I’ve read a couple of his books and didn’t find them anti-religious.

  57. This is such an odd choice … on so many levels. Not just the inexcusable offense to Catholic sensibilities … but also why would a bunch of 22-year olds have any interest in what an 83-year old retired entomologist (a.k.a. “bug expert”) has to say to them?

    Who in heaven’s name made this choice? One has to question their intelligence, common sense — even their sanity.

  58. Andy, (and anyone else who might be interested), Mother Theresa DID give a commencement speech in 1982, to Harvard, and I might add, with long applause and ovation. Just sayin’!

    Here’s the link to the speech:

  59. Right on Romulus! Fr. Saliba might otherwise be a kook, but even a stopped clock is right twoce a day. Charismaticism (warmed over emotionalistic Protestant Pentecostalism) is killing authentic Catholicism.

  60. deacon john m. bresnahan says:

    Will 7-1 liberal imbalance in speakers isn’t exactly” hearing from different sides.” It is extreme narrow-mindedness masquerading as being open-minded.

  61. deacon john m. bresnahan says:

    Todd–In other words fraud like Warren’s is OK as long as it is done in a good liberal cause. Oh, well!! Whatever gets you to your goal (or as it is sometimes called: “The end justifies the means.”)

  62. GS 51 teaches, inter alia, that our human fertility is one of God’s great gifts to us, to be cherished and protected. “God, the Lord of life, has entrusted to men the noble mission of safeguarding life, and men must carry it out in a manner worthy of themselves. Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes. Man’s sexuality and the faculty of reproduction wondrously surpass the endowments of lower forms of life; therefore the acts proper to married life are to be ordered according to authentic human dignity and must be honored with the greatest reverence” (GS 51c).

    GS 87 is located in chapter five: “Fostering of Peace and Establishment of a Community of Nations.” GS 87 deals with the problems arising from rapid increases in population, and all of it should be read. I quote only the third paragraph:

    Since there is widespread opinion that the population expansion of the world, or at least some particular countries, should be kept in check by all possible means and by every kind of intervention by public authority, the Council exhorts all men to beware of all solutions, whether uttered in public or in private or imposed at any time, which transgress the natural law. Because in the virtue of man’s inalienable right to marriage and the procreation of children, the decision regarding the number of children depends on the judgment of the parents and is in no way to be left to the decrees of public authority.

    Now, since the parents’ judgment presupposes a properly formed conscience, it is of great importance that all should have an opportunity to cultivate a genuinely human sense of responsibility which will take account of the circumstances of time and situation and will respect the divine law; to attain this goal a change for the better must take place in educational and social conditions and, above all, religious formations, or at least full moral training, must be available. People should be discreetly informed of scientific advances in research into methods of birth regulation, whenever the value of these methods has been thoroughly proved and their conformity with the moral order established (GS 87c).

  63. Oh no, John. I think Elizabeth Warren made a dumb mistake. And she compounded it by not coming totally clean. As a woman in an affirmative action culture, she’s going to get her due.

    So nope, no gotcha on ends and means with me today. I still think every decision must be morally straight.

  64. It’s typical, but illogical to criticize the people who made the choice, insulting them–usually it means you’re having trouble mustering an argument.

    Dr Wilson has authored about twenty books, two of which won Pulitzer prizes. He’s about the world’s most famous entomologist, and certainly in the top 30 of all biologists of today, mainly because of his forays into sociology and human population.

    To be clear, I don’t agree with everything the man says or writes. But I see no point in denying him a platform in this instance. When he suggests that if human beings disappeared, the planet would revert to something greener, he’s not necessarily advocating geno-suicide. He’s just stating a likely consequence.

    The Chinese, from whom some Catholics buy cheap stuff, not only promote depopulation, but they indulge in imprisonment, violence, and even murder to get it done–and that leaves aside abortions. And lots of otherwise “orthodox” Catholics don’t seem to be bothered by that. Not enough to buy American, at any rate.

  65. “Moms and dads, you know how it is. You send your kid off to college. By Christmas he’s a communist.” – Margery Eagan

    I do not know the columnist, but her column does not make her sound like a liberal.

    It is a speaker who speaks for twenty or thirty minutes after a person has spent four years at the college. There is a picture of liberal Katie Couric in the article you refer to. Since one of my daughters is getting her Masters from the University of Virginia, I will get back to you about how that speech goes. By the way, Ms. Couric is speaking at her alma mater, which probably means something to her. The article also mentions Condeleezza Rice. When the same daughter got her Bachelors degree at Michigan State University, Ms. Rice was the commencement speaker. The article also mentions that 16 persons from the Obama administration will speak at commencements. If Mr. Romney wins, perhaps we should follow up next year and see how many members of his administration speak at commencements.

  66. Sister Terese Peter, OSB says:

    I’m glad I’m old and will die soon… Heaven help our children.

  67. pagansister says:

    Todd, large families can be a “good things” as long as they can be fed and clothed and more importantly, loved. Not everyone on the planet can afford to take care of many children.

  68. pagansister says:

    Michael P, do you really think a room full of graduates are going to turn their back on a speaker or get up and walk out? My guess? 1/2 won’t even be listening to the speaker and the other 1/2 won’t care what they say. All those folks want is to walk to get that hard earned degree.

  69. No one is denying him a “platform.” But who cares that he authored twenty books or won Pulitzer Prizes or that he is the world’s most famous entomologiest? Why should any of that matter to a 22-year old? What can he tell these graduates that would inspire them or prepare them for the world that awaits them?

    And, yes, the people who picked him showed poor judgement. I’m guessing that one of his former graduate students is now a high-level official at this university and thought that he would do the “old boy” a favor by getting him another honorary degree and getting him invited to serve as commencement speaker.

    My prediction is that he will give a dull, boring speech and the students and their parents will question, as I have, the intelligence, common sense and sanity of the people who run this university.

  70. Dear Sister: I share your concern for our young, but don’t worry, there are still people like me around — presumably a bit younger than you — who will be happy to “fight the good fight.” Please pray for us, though, when you get to Heaven :-)

  71. Mark, I think you are expressing your wishes in making your prediction.

    “But who cares that he authored twenty books or won Pulitzer Prizes or that he is the world’s most famous entomologiest?”

    Perhaps you–it does show that he’s a bit more than a “bug expert.” He’s a skilled writer as well as a teacher of college students. I work with college students every day, and I know there’s a deep regard for age and experience among them. Not sure that someone in his shoes needs that “favor” of which you speak. And given the level of attention this has received, clearly this is an important engagement.

  72. Midwestlady says:

    Just one more whacked out celebrity commencement speech. This happens every year. Pity the graduates in their hot graduation finery. They have to sit there and listen to this manure before they can collect their diplomas.

  73. Midwestlady says:

    Oh yeah, and of course they really believe that they’d be better off dead, and they really will take this guy’s word that believing in something is a lost cause. That’s why they just finished years of study and worked their tails off to pass exams. Right.

    Having a speaker, for some reason, is de rigeur. So the students will get it over with, laugh it off, have the polite party with their parents, then change into jeans and go do what graduates do: Party. Then they’ll try to get a job and make money. Get real.

  74. Andy, have seen/heard Steve Jobs 2005 Stanford Commencement Address?

  75. Midwestlady says:

    Oh, who cares? This hiring of this guy is a perfect example of adherence to the de rigeur custom of having a crackpot in for your commencement ceremony. This happens every year. What’s everyone’s takeaway–really? The graduates put up with it, while wishing the whole thing wasn’t so hot and stuffy and long, while looking forward to the parties later. The parents are busy picking their kids out of the crowd while being very, very glad the whole ordeal is over. The cops in the parking lot are trying to make sure nobody gets road rage because the campus is now a mess. And so it goes, graduation day 2012.

  76. Midwestlady says:

    Oh horse hockey, Todd. I can tell you don’t work for a corporation and probably have never worked for one. You have no idea what you’re talking about.

  77. Midwestlady says:

    Not a jaundiced view. The best part is watching the students walk up for their diplomas. This is what graduations are really about.

  78. Midwestlady says:

    Don’t hold your breath. Nobody else is. I’ve never heard a graduation speech that couldn’t have been reduced by 75% and been just as valuable. And the graduates are just. past. it. They’re out, for Pete’s sakes, and they know it. It’s get the diploma city and then party time.

  79. Midwestlady says:

    That’s way over-simplistic, Todd.

  80. Midwestlady says:

    Then here’s one for you, Todd. If you “distrust the clever and enlightened” as you say you do, then when you tell us that we should listen to some “clever and enlightened” information that you have on population growth, why on earth should we listen to it?

    Unless you believe that you have a privileged vantage point and you’re telling us something new, why should you bother to make such a fuss about it? But you do. If you insist on telling us all this population stuff because you somehow are privy to it and we aren’t, while simultaneously telling us you don’t have a privileged view because “you don’t believe in that,” what should we make of that?

  81. Midwestlady says:

    Moral? Trying to insure that people are not going to face hardships that I can’t predict or control 1000 years from now is not a moral problem I have. Any more than my tribal ancestor in Britain during the Ice Age could be responsible for my bent fender last winter when I went into the ditch. Too much has happened between he and I, and none of it was under his control, certainly. He never saw a car, a North American ditch or an insurance company. :D

  82. Midwestlady says:

    Bossy, bossy, bossy. People do as they see fit, Todd. You’re apparently in the habit of moralizing at people to suit your own views. A lot. Not everyone sees things the way you do and it’s okay, Todd. Really.

  83. Midwestlady says:

    It depends on the discipline. In the natural sciences, mathematics & engineering, we sneer in unison at trouble-makers. They’re not value added. In academic philosophy, superficial nonsense doesn’t last long either because frankly it can’t stand the level of intense scrutiny it gets on multiple levels.

    However, in literature, social work and so on, it can be more difficult for students to resist educational abuses of this sort because it can be inserted into the textual & verbal materials they must work with.

  84. Midwestlady says:

    Maybe he should stick to talking about insects. It sounds like that’s his real expertise.

  85. Well I am pretty sure this ‘Catholic’ university wants to please their non-catholic students.

    Its more business than religion, to run a big, reputable, money-making, educational institute.

  86. As the parent of one graduate and one current student at The Catholic University of America, informally known as Catholic University — I cringe whenever I see headlines such as this one. CUA is striving earnestly to be faithful under the leadership of John Garvey and previously, Fr (now Bishop) O’Connell. Even though the ‘u’ in university is lower case, I would venture to say that many people have to think twice that perhaps the story is about CUA. I wish headline writers, bloggers and others would refrain from this usage. Perhaps a better headline would read : Commencement speaker at a Catholic university or better yet: Commencement speaker at DePaul University.

    My two cents. (for $40K a year)

  87. I’m appalled that the “adult decision makers” at this Catholic in label only university chose to send off the kids graduating that day with such an insipid destructive speaker. I blame my generation (BA, class of 79) for facilitating and ushering in the mess of this world. A pathological inability to feel shame or embarrassment.

  88. Catholics get ” confused ” because they are basically lazy thinkers. They refuse to keep up with what is going on around them and to question it. I know lots of ” good ” Catholics who just don’t know what is going on and think they know it all – when in fact they know next to nothing.

  89. charles walsh says:

    Hitler had same ideas so did Stalin, Mao. They are the same. First they came for the jews then the gypsies then the catholics. You don’t understand. The intellagentia were the first to go after the revelutions. Theb Lord God Almighty praise his name took care of them.
    He will take good care of us in his wisdom and truth.
    The Romans tried, the Age of Reason fanatics in France tried, Naploean tried, Bismark tried, Marx Engles Nitche Lennon Stalin Hitler and the rest tried but no one can stop the Eord of the Lord

  90. charles walsh says:

    Sorry for typos ment WORD OF THE LORD Lenin although the other one said really wonderful things ha Ha sarcasim ment

  91. pagansister says:

    Mary: Wonder if that is anything like how trying to figure out how many angels can dance on the head of a pin?

  92. pagansister says:

    correction—leave the word “how”!

  93. pagansister says:

    OK, one more time! skip the first “how” in my question. Sorry.


  1. [...] see Catholic comboxes are heating up over another commencement speaker. At the Bench, Greg Kandra picks it up from LSN, which gives its readers contacts at DePaul University for the [...]

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