CRUCIFIXES RETURNED TO GEORGETOWN'S CLASSROOMS
On the feast of the Exaltation of the Cross and in the presence of students who had worked for l9 months to have crucifixes returned to Georgetown's classrooms, John Cardinal O'Connor blessed the ultimate symbol of Christianity and offered Mass in the University's Dahlgren chapel.
His ceremoniously carrying the crozier announced to all that his brother Archbishop James Cardinal Hickey - who had staunchly supported the student's effort to honor the crucifix - had welcomed him into the Washington archdiocese.
In the prayer of blessing over the crucifixes, New York's prelate reminded all that "The Lord Jesus, our King, our Priest and our Teacher freely mounted the scaffold of the cross and made it His royal throne, His altar of sacrifice, His pulpit of truth. May the cross be our comfort in trouble; our refuge in the face of danger; a safeguard on life's journey."
Twenty Jesuits, including Georgetown's president Leo O'Donovan, S.J., concelebrated the Mass. The Caradinal's sermon "The role of young people in today's Church and today's world" spiritually reaffirmed the reason for the ceremony. His message was, unavoidably at times, both painfully and poignantly applicable to the administratively condoned policies of the University from whose School of Government he had graduated many years ago.
John Soucy, the student who led the 'Georgetown University Committee for Crucifixes in the Classrooms', declared it the most significant talk he had ever heard at a Catholic university: "The Cardinal spoke eloquently for objective truth."
In pointing out that today's secularized culture has made it virtually impossible to see God in the midst of so much darkness, hatred, pornography and the violation of the human person, the Cardinal's charge that "Words that do not give the light of Christ increase the darkness in the world" rang all too true. Georgetown students must take a safe-sex (or, as one close to the University now calls it, 'safe-sin') course in how to use condoms
To combat the darkness, he added "To me, the greatest gift that anyone can be given today is the courage to be counter-cultural and nothing can be more counter-cultural than the Crucifixion....the Mass and the cross are but one and the same sacrifice. The power that will take place on this altar will radiate out through this campus."
A parent in attendance silently prayed it would reach the University hospital chapel where pita bread is currently being used for the Sacred species.
The Cardinal quoted British essayist Coventry Patmore's statement about tolerance being a very one sided bargain: "It will not do to have falsehood and moral idiocy say to truth and honesty 'I will tolerate you if you will tolerate me'." Those Georgetown Knights of Columbus who were in attendance agreed. Because their membership excludes non-Catholics and women, they cannot get Student Activities Committee funding yet bi-sexual, gay and lesbian groups continue to receive financial support from SAC.
His Eminence assured the students of their closeness to the heart of the Church and to the Holy Father and spoke glowingly of this Pope's commitment to young people. Unfortunately, Thomas Reese, S.J., formerly with the Woodstock Theological Center on campus, was not in attendance. Reese is now editor of AMERICA whose August 29th issue printed several letters implying that the Holy Father and his advisors are senile and should resign for the good of the Church.
The prevailing theme carried throughout the sermon brought the Mass to a close. "To you young people, this very old person says with deepest sincerity: we need you; we depend on you so much. I love you. God bless you."
Following the Mass, a reception was held in the quadrangle outside Dahlgren Chapel where a somber alumnus cited a Hilaire Belloc quote the Cardinal had used regarding Belloc's running for office. Belloc wanted everyone to know he was a Catholic. "If you reject me for my religion, I shall thank God for sparing me the indignity of being your representative." The former student said he wished those Jesuits who have pushed for the secularization of Georgetown would heed Belloc's words.
Other questions were raised: why had crucifixees ever been removed from Georgetown's classrooms? Had Father O'Donovan, in inviting His Eminence to Georgetown, had a change of heart and now wholeheartedly supported their being returned? Will he and Georgetown take the Cardinal's words to heart about fidelity to the Holy Father and implement Ex Corde Ecclesiae?
A uniformed Navy ROTC cadet, who was one of the last in line waiting to thank the Cardinal for his honoring the students in their drive to honor God and His crucifixion, was informed that he used to be Vice Admiral O'Connor and Chief of Navy Chaplains. He smartly saluted His Eminence before kissing his ring. A plaque honoring Georgetown alumnus William Jefferson Clinton was clearly visible in the background. 30