From those wacky Jesuits, who brought you the rape of mentally disabled patients…

A reader sends this along:

Saint Louis University — a college in the “Catholic and Jesuit tradition”– has just received the latest issue of “The University News”, the student newspaper. This week’s issue is dedicated to the students’ sex life, complete with a nice statistic about student sexual activity, descriptions of sexual health services available on campus, and an editorial requesting more sex ed and giving directions to the local Planned Parenthood where you can pick up your contraception. Read the editorial and the >Sex+and+the+University”>feature.

The editorial mentions the SLU herpes vaccine trial and students are being recruited for this wonderful experience: if you volunteer, you get a vaccine, either for hepatits A, if you are in the control group, or for herpes, if you are in the experimental group. Then, having received a vaccine, and without knowing which one, you must promise not to abstain and not to be monogamous (unless your lover has herpes or some other funky diseases). The failure rate of the experimental vaccine is about 25%, but participation pays in $$$$. More info here.

One concerned faculty member describes the vaccine trial as follows:

Saint Louis Post Dispatch 12/08/02

The herpes vaccine trial for which St. Louis University gets $37 million is a perfect model of experimental design. Both experimental and control groups engage repeatedly in the dangerous behavior that results in a serious infection.

The experimental group is treated with a vaccine known to protect against the infection. The control group is given an ineffective vaccine. The study determines which group will get higher rates of the incurable infection, which not only affects the subjects but can result in brain damage or death to their offspring.

Unfortunately, the subjects are not guinea pigs or rats, but human beings. They are someone’s daughter, someone’s sister.

The study solicits only those young women who are or who intend to become sexually promiscuous. Chaste young women and faithful wives need not apply.

In this type of experiment, it is customary to pay the participants for their inconvenience and for agreeing to be good subjects. However, in this case being a good subject means agreeing to repeatedly perform acts that are considered seriously immoral by the Catholic university that sponsors the experiment. This will surely scandalize and seem hypocritical to faithful Catholics.

Finally, the experiment is reminiscent of the Tuskegee study of untreated syphilis. Half of the young women engage in behavior that, for the good of the experiment, the scientists expect will result in incurable infection. But these women will not receive the protective treatment, and therefore will be at risk of passing the brain-damaging virus to any future progeny.

Wouldn’t teaching chastity be a more effective, ethical, and appropriate way for a Catholic university to protect young women from this serious infection?

William J. Burke, M.D. Professor Department of Neurology SLUCare St. Louis

So, maybe the students are correct. Maybe the whole Church should join in the conversation about sex at SLU. Perhaps the editors of the UNews would like to hear an opinion? ( Perhaps the president of SLU, Fr. Biondi, S.J. (, would like to know what you and your readers think of the herpes vaccine trial, excuse me, research in the Ignatian tradition. Perhaps the head of Campus Ministry, Fr. Doody, S.J. (, could use some feedback about students and their sex lives? But first, let’s do an interview with Fr. Doody about the SLU Rainbow Alliance and people who have special sexual gifts from God:

Let it be known that the SLU Rainbow Alliance surely is not Courage:

Has it ever struck anyone as odd how “pastoral reasons”, when opposed to legal reasons, are more confusing than clarifying? For example, here is a letter to the editor of the UNews manifesting the confusion spawned by Fr. Doody’s distinction:

So, do we need another Ignatius of Loyola or what?

Feel free to “join the conversation” with our zany Jesuit friends at the email links provided.