At Loyola U. Maryland, Goodbye O’Connor


flannery_stampMy alma mater, Loyola University of Maryland, has canceled one of the surpassing women of American letters. The courageous Jesuit who runs the place, the Rev. Brian F. Linnane, stripped Flannery O’Connor’s name from a dormitory because “some of her personal writings reflected a racist perspective.” He burbled something about “holding ourselves accountable.”

O’Connor was required reading when I was at Loyola, which in those halcyon days was a mere college. I don’t know whether she is required reading now, but so august a place as a “university” certainly can’t have truck with “racists” such as the unwashed lady from Milledgeville, Georgia. And so there went the Flannery O’Connor Residence Hall. If students are too sensitive to reside in a building bearing her name, reading Wise Blood and A Good Man Is Hard To Find, two of O’Connor’s classics, would melt the snowflakes at Loyola faster than an acetylene torch set on full blast.

The larger point, though, is this: The good Rev. Linnane’s latest stab at “equity and inclusion” was inevitable, and not just because of the deranged, historically ignorant iconoclasm we have witnessed since the unfortunate demise of the recently canonized St. George Floyd.

Spiritual rot at Loyola and the Jesuit attack on God and country began long ago.

Philip Berrigan
Along about my junior year, the Jesuits hoked up a Social Justice Day and brought in a few speakers to teach the privileged white kids their duties in the world outside the campus. One speaker was Philip Berrigan, the Jesuit-trained Josephite priest who led the Catonsville Nine and married a nun 16 years his junior, Elizabeth McAllister. Both were excommunicated. 

The least the Loyola Jesuits could have done was bring in his brother Daniel Berrigan — as nutty as Philip but at least a Jesuit priest in good standing — but in any event Loyola’s scholars learned that “social justice” means burning draft cards, trying to destroy U.S. taxpayer property to protest war, and pretending your country is no better than any other run-of-the-mill dictatorship.

Another memory: A veteran theology teacher was an unfrocked priest and left-wing heretic from central casting. One fine day, a classmate mounted a considerable although futile effort to correct him on one of the finer points of Catholic teaching. 

Then there was the deranged student who shouted “F*** God” in the middle of history class. Needless to say, nothing happened to him at a Jesuit college where the motto is “strong truths, well lived.”

Hear Any Confessions, Lately, Father?
But back to 2020 and the Cancel Culture.

Almost 40 years later, we learn that the Jesuits think removing a non pareil writer’s name from a building, because that writer wrote some unpleasant things in private correspondence, strikes a blow for “social justice.”

Some questions for the good Rev. Linnane. 

Did stripping O’Connor’s name from that building do any good for any of the black single mothers living just blocks away? Of course not. 

Did he save a single little black boy about to embark on a life of crime? Nope. 

A once-great American city, founded by the Catholic Cecil Calvert, second Lord Baltimore, is falling into ruins. Did the good Rev. Linnane inspire anyone to repair a single dilapidated building, again, just blocks away in that benighted city?

No, the good Rev. Linnane is worried about a 56-year-old letter, and some letters even older.

A few more questions:

How many confessions from students did the good Rev. Linnane hear that day? 

Did he pray a Rosary for the black babies aborted in Baltimore? 

Did the good Rev. Linnane say a Mass to stop that slaughter? 

Perhaps the good Rev. Linnane can answer those questions the way his more sensible alumni want, but you get the idea.

‘To Hell With It’
Speaking of the Holy Sacrifice of the Mass, back to Flannery O’Connor. As Peter Kreeft said, she wrote what might be the most reverent words ever spoken about The Holy Eucharist:

I was once, five or six years ago, taken by some friends to hae dinner with Mary McCarthy and her husband, Mr. Broadwater. … She departed the Church at the age of 15 and is a Big Intellectual. We went at eight and at one, I hadn’t opened my mouth once, there being nothing for me in such company to say. The people who took me were Robert Lowell and his now wife, Elizabeth Hardwick. Having me there was like having a dog present who had been trained to say a few words but overcome with inadequacy had forgotten them. Well, toward morning the conversation turned on the Eucharist, which I, being the Catholic, was obviously supposed to defend. Mrs. Broadwater said when she was a child and received the Host, she thought of it as the Holy Ghost, He being the ‘most portable’ person of the Trinity; now she thought of it as a symbol and implied that it was a pretty good one. I then said, in a very shaky voice, “Well, if it’s a symbol, to hell with it.” That was all the defense I was capable of but I realize now that this is all I will ever be able to say about it, outside of a story, except that it is the center of existence for me; all the rest is expendable.

That’s in one of her letters, too. Given that O’Connor the “racist”  believed in the Real Presence, one wonders when the Loyola Jesuits will declare the Eucharist “racist,” rewrite the Mass, and jettison the consecration.

One can safely say the good Rev. Linnane doesn’t require his students to read O’Connor’s letter on the Holy

Flannery O’Connor, Notre Dame College, Baltimore, 1963.
Flannery O’Connor, Notre Dame College, Baltimore, 1963.

Eucharist , or even worry that most of his students share the late McCarthy’s view of it and not O’Connor’s, or that of  St. Ignatius Loyola, or Father Andrew White, who celebrated the first Mass in the original 13 colonies, let alone Jesuit martyrs such as Sts. Isaac Jogues and John de Brebeuf, who brought the Catholic faith to the Indians.

The Mohawks chewed off Jogues’s index fingers so he could not celebrate the Sacrament that gave Flannery O’Connor the will to live.

Maybe the good Rev. Brian F. Linnane, S.J., will apologize for him next. 

About the author

R. Cort Kirkwood

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  • I hope to hell that every alumnus refuses to donate another goddamn penny to that “school” — and tells them why!

    Let it die — it’s soul already has!

    • Every huge, stinking-rich Catholic college/university has a Wealthy Alumni Weekend. The priests all put on their collars.

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