What is this world coming to? Just the other day, Catholic U. of America (CUA), over in Washington, DC, decreed that actor-director Stanley Tucci, would be barred from entering its campus to participate in a seminar on modern film making. Why? Is he an ex-priest with uncontrollable pedophile tendencies looking for fresh victims? No! Is he a raving warmonger, who advocates preempted conflicts by the U.S. in the Middle East? No! Is he a flaming, embittered and hateful anti-Catholic? No! None of the above.
Tucci got in trouble with Catholic U. officials, because he has ties to a pro choice group and he’s pro abortion rights. This is a position whose advocacy is protected under our Constitutional system by the First Amendment’s Free Speech clause. In the past, Tucci had been listed as an honorary chairman of an event, “Stand Up for Choice,” which is held in NYC, according to an article in the Washington Post by Amy Argetsinger, on 09/17/04. Tucci’s name then showed up on a roster of possible speakers for a planned Oct. 15, 2004 seminar on the CUA campus. Its purpose is to highlight contemporary Italian cinema. It is all part of a week long film festival at a number of locations around Washington. Tucci, with his wide cinematic and stage background, was a natural for such an event. He is highly respected for both his acting and directorial skills. His recent film, “Big Night,” was acclaimed as a huge artistic success.
Unfortunately, for Tucci, the “Holy Inquisitors” at Catholic U. sprang into action on hearing the news that he might be headed in their direction. A spokesman for CUA explained the school’s position on shutting their doors to the actor this way: “The University cannot give any platform to film and stage actor Stanley Tucci or any other people who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles…” CUA, which is run by the Catholic bishops in the U.S., said it was only following a directive that was issued on the controversial abortion subject by the top clerical group earlier this summer. CUA’s spokesperson elaborated on how, as a Catholic institution, it was prohibited from giving any “awards, honors and platforms to any who oppose the church’s positions, particularly on abortion” (WP, 09/17/04).
It’s clear that being pro abortion is a very big “no no” with the CUA honchos, but pro warmongering appears to be just fine with them. For example, I have learned, that in the recent past, none other than Lt. Col. Oliver North of Contragate infamy has spoken on the campus as a guest of the “College Republicans at CUA.” Are there any more notorious hawks than Col. North (http://www.skepticfiles.org/mys1/pc17.htm)? I doubt it!
How bizarre! I think this would all be a non-story, if Tucci had been asked to come to the CUA’s campus and advocate for the pro-choice position. Certainly, the school then would arguably be within its rights as a Roman Catholic institution, not to officially sanction, on campus, such an event for all the reasons it has given. But, this isn’t the case at all.
Tucci wasn’t coming to CUA to preach a pro abortion doctrine that many, but not all Roman Catholics, find impermissible. He was coming to participate in a seminar on contemporary Italian cinema. What’s the threat here to the students? Is Tucci being punished by the clerics for exercising, elsewhere, his Free Speech rights on abortion? If so, then what does that say about the bishops respect for our Republic…for an open society where a vigorous intellectual pursuit of the truth should be a given? What kind of lessons in democracy are the bishops teaching the students, and their faithful followers, by proscribing possible speakers at CUA, and other Catholic facilities, too, not for any subject matter that they might raise, but because their past pro abortion opinion makes them persona non grata? It is all so medieval! Will the bishops be preparing the auto-de-fe again for dissenters?
Also, probably most important of all, the cleric’s myopic “single issue” moralizing on abortion doesn’t bode well for a world that is mostly languishing in grinding poverty, wars, disease, environmental disasters and human rights abuses (http://www.worldrevolution.org/). It also gives many of their followers the opportunity to op out on engaging the pressing issues of our 21st Century. Our Republic desperately needs everyone’s “full” participation.
There is so much gross hypocrisy at CUA. The school was founded by the U.S. Catholic bishops and, today, they collectively manage the school as Trustees(http://www.cua.edu/). Some of the same clerics, who are listed as Trustees of CUA, have also been named in numerous multimillion dollar civil law suits as defendants. The plaintiffs, many of whom were former altar boys, are seeking damages from the pedophile priests who viciously abused them, and also from the bishops, who they claim failed to protect them from such repeated and vile assaults (For background, check out the excellent expose’ on the scandal in the RC Church by the Boston Globe, at: http://www.boston.com/globe/spotlight/abuse/). Cardinal Roger Mahoney of Los Angeles is one of the Trustees of CUA. He is also presently under attack in hundreds of civil cases involving the issue of pedophile priests (http://www.snapnetwork.org/news/calif/belated_lawsuits_pass_test.htm).
In any event, on Aug. 3, 2004, many of CUA’s Trustees also showed up in Dallas, Texas, at a Knights of Columbus convention, to cheer on the main guest speaker, the quintessential warmonger – President George W. Bush, Jr. (New York Times, Elizabeth Bumiller, 08/04/04). By that date, nearly 1,000 brave American military personnel had loss their lives in Iraq; over 14,000 innocent Iraqis were already dead; their country totally devastated by U.S. and British terror bombings; and over $200 billion had been wasted from our national treasury in this unnecessary and immoral conflict. Don’t the teachings of the Roman Catholic Church oppose support for an unjust war?
There is something radically wrong here. Tucci is locked out of CUA, while many of its Trustees appear to be condoning the ultra hawkish war policies of the Bush-Cheney Gang. This rotten business of the bishops condoning evil is at the center of the priest-pedophile mess. Not only did the bishops give Bush a “platform” in Dallas because of his anti-abortion and Gay-bashing views, but worse, it could be argued that they also gave him their imprimatur for the election set for Nov. 2nd. It is long past the time for the U.S. Catholic Bishops to explain themselves and to do so – promptly!