Creighton, Archdiocese of Omaha disagreement grows

Archbishop Elden Curtiss
Archbishop Elden Curtiss


Creighton University has been in the news lately, but not because of a new research breakthrough or one of its athletic team’s good records. The Jesuit-run university is in the limelight because of what seems to be a pattern of disagreement with the Archdiocese of Omaha within which it is located.

The most recent development in the relationship between the two Catholic institutions is the invitation, and then a last minute retraction by the university for the pro-assisted suicide speaker Anne Lamott to speak. 

Creighton University officials said they invited Anne Lamott to speak before her book "Grace (Eventually): Thoughts on Faith," came out in March 2007, according to the AP. The book describes her personal experience in helping a friend commit suicide.

"Everybody knew what they were getting so it is hard to understand a last minute disinvitation," said Fr. Joseph Taphorn, chancellor for the archdiocese. "All you have to do is put the name in Google and you see what she believes."

On Wednesday, the author's booking agent, Steven Barclay, said Lamott's opinions were no secret. He said university officials sent a letter earlier this summer asking Lamott not to speak about assisted suicide and abortion. Creighton has since rescinded its invitation to Lamott.

Creighton is run by the Society of Jesus, a Roman Catholic order more commonly known as the Jesuits. According to the order, part of a Jesuit university's mission is to remain in good standing with the Catholic bishop.

This latest disagreement is causing many local Catholics to lose patience with the university because its part of a larger series of run-ins with the archdiocese.

This past June, CNA reported that the Archbishop of Omaha, Elden Curtiss, officially disassociated the Archdiocese from the university’s Center for Marriage and Family after two of its researchers published an article in US Catholic magazine encouraging couples to have sex and children before marriage as long as they are engaged.

One of the center’s researchers, Michael Lawler, also co-wrote an article in the academic Heythrop Journal with the chairman of the school's theology department, suggesting that some homosexual sex is actually permissible under Catholic doctrine.

The Associated Press spoke with Fr. Ryan Lewis, the vice chancellor of the archdiocese who said, "If you're seeing a pattern, you're seeing correctly. And we just appreciate that Catholic Omaha is starting to lose patience with some of this stuff."

While Fr. Taphorn will not say if the Archdiocese has discussed the possibility of the Archbishop Curtiss removing Creighton’s status of being a Catholic university, it is a possibility if the relationship continues to deteriorate.

The removal of the school’s Catholic designation could result in an identity crisis and make fundraising from alumni harder.  

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