CNS: Saint Bonaventure University invited “medium” to contact the dead for students, administrator



I received this from the Cardinal Newman Society:

Catholic College Hosts Medium to Contact the Dead

A medium who claims contact with the dead told the Cardinal Newman Society she was invited to Saint Bonaventure University recently where she said she contacted the dead for over two dozen students. [Either really did, which is evil, or really didn’t, which is evil.]

A concerned alumnus of Saint Bonaventure forwarded this ad that appeared on St. Bonaventure University’s web bulletin:

PSYCHIC READINGS THIS FRIDAY Have any questions about your love life, career, or future? Ever wanted to reconnect with a loved one who has passed? Maybe a spirit is trying to get through to you! Have these questions and more answered by registered medium, Peggy Rogers. Join us on Friday, Oct. 28, when Peggy Rogers, a registered medium from Lilydale, will be in hosted in Café La Verna from 6-10 p.m. to offer personalized one-on-one student readings. Individuals readings will be about 10 minutes each during which questions will be answered. A canned good or two will be the spiritual reading cost. Peggy will be doing sessions for four hours, so sign-ups are on a first-come-first- served basis because slots are limited.”

After reading this, CNS contacted the university but didn’t hear back from them. But CNS did speak with the alleged medium herself recently who corroborated the ad and spoke extensively about her experience at Saint Bonaventure University.

Peggy Rogers, who calls herself a “spiritual guide” said over 25 students and one administrator asked her to contact the dead for them. She said she “brought in spirits that they recognized and gave them good information.” She said the students could identify the dead because she relayed quirks about their personality or by identifying what ailed them in life.



This is called “necromancy”.  It is a grave sin.

Necromancy is one of the reasons why Saul lost God’s favor and lost his throne.


Prof. Peters, the Canonical Defender, has jumped in.

UPDATE 15 Nov 1823 GMT:

The University has given an explanation.  I take it from the CNS website.

Update: Saint Bonaventure University released this statemnt concerning this incident:

While some university staff were aware of the students’ plans to host this event, there was a lack of awareness by these staff and students of the conflict of this activity with our mission. We therefore took the opportunity to educate our students and involved staff about the conflict with mission. Our students were earlier that same week involved with events associated with the Franciscan World Day of Prayer for Peace, and others dedicated their midterm break to volunteering at the St. Francis Inn Soup Kitchen in Philadelphia. Given these and countless other frequent activities that represent our mission, it would be irresponsible for anyone to characterize this isolated event as reflective of the University’s or our students’ Catholic-Franciscan character or identity.

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  1. JohnB says:

    I assume the sin of scandal is also involved? [D’ya think?] One of the issues that drove me from the Episcopal Church to the Ordinariate was a former associate rector at my old Episcopal parish whose gay partner passed away. He went to see mediums to get back in touch and wrote a book about it. He’s now a high-profile interim rector at an affluent Episcopal parish.

    Can the Catholic hierarchy do anything to hold the people at St Bonaventure accountable?

  2. BV says:

    I would say “unbelievable” if I didn’t sadly think otherwise! I was thinking about Saul as I was reading this.

  3. Ezra says:

    Of relevance is Fr Chad Ripperger FSSP’s sermon, “Witchcraft”, which is available here, in para. 5 (note penanceware conditions of use).

  4. PostCatholic says:

    I’d call it a delusion and hucksterism, and say it’s just plain silly. But I did like the pun about it being a grave sin.

  5. Tina in Ashburn says:

    “Maybe a spirit is trying to get through to you! ”

    Uh, yes. That I don’t doubt for a minute. Doing this kind of thing is like entering a chat room where you really don’t know with whom you are communicating. These spirits will tell you anything. Any spirit that communicates with the living in this manner is evil, even though they pretend not to be, to get you hooked in. The good obey the rules of the Church and God here on earth, and those that don’t, aren’t of God.

    The rules are: don’t call up spirits. Ever.
    Don’t fool around with this stuff. We are puny human souls pitted against Powers, Dominations, etc. We need to be on God’s side.

    Here’s hoping St Bonaventure’s will publicly and stridently advertise the Church’s teaching in this regard. A bishop’s mandate for some exorcisms might not be a bad idea either for any damage that may have been worked.

  6. Johnno says:

    The Church is so compromised, that we even have atheists, homosexuals, new age spiritualists coming in under permission of the Bishops office running the choirs, ‘teaching’, organizing events, etc. Quite frankly, sometimes I think it really is time Catholics became more serious in their outcry to the point of willing to take time out to really harass the people in charge who are responsible for this. Flood their e-mail inboxes, flood their actual mail, actually call them out whenever they see them in public wherever they may be and argue with them in front of others, spit on the ground in front of them, make sure they get the message. If nice warnings didn’t work the first few times, then follow the example of the Church Fathers, of the Saints and Christ Himself and start being rude for their own good!

    The funny thing about Saul’s story, the necromancer who he went to, got so scared when Samuel’s ghost showed up, suggesting that the necromancer was a fake! Though this wasn’t what led to Saul’s loss of his kingship. Saul lost it when he refused to have faith in God and did not wait for Samuel to arrive to perform the sacrifice before heading into battle, so Saul himself did it, usurping the role only reserved to the priest and this was what the last straw was! But also before this, Saul numerous times over consorting with the inhabitants in the region he was supposed to kill, and not slaughtering them all and not utterly destroying their idols, animals and property, instead fearing his men, allowed them to keep the spoils that should’ve been destroyed. Samuel always got mad at Saul whenever he did this. Saul is the example of a leader who perfectly emphasizes our fallen leaders today who do not respect and understand the role of the priestly ministry and who compromise themselves out of fear of their parishioners and other people turning against them.

  7. catholicmidwest says:

    Playing around with the occult is very, very dangerous, and the Church has always viewed it as so.

    In this particular case, it’s bad in a practical sense too, since what she was obviously doing was giving away “free samples” on University property, probably with an eye toward building her clientele traffic to her off-campus location. The donation of a “canned good” was designed to make it familiar to Christian students. Tricky.

    Whoever it was on campus that accepted this ad is as stupid as a bag of hammers.

  8. Brad says:

    The memoirs of Fr. Amorth, exorcist for the diocese of Rome: any time we initiate the connection with supposedly passed-on souls (to use pablum-speak), the connection is made, but with demons. Human souls who are in heaven or purgatory will sometimes come to us, rarely though, with God’s special permission, and will appear not because we have summoned them. Additionally, they will appear usually only to holy souls here on earth who can help them (in the case of purgatory) through intense prayer and charity. They will not appear to a bunch of twits. They appear to souls who are the real deal, future saints.

    In so many words, all occult behavior that we, fools, engage in, is rankly demonic.

  9. Phil_NL says:

    First of all, let’s see if it was the university itself who organised this (or knowingly supported it), or the students. It seems like it might be the latter, and while that doesn’t make the action any less blameworthy (or silly, ‘registered medium’ equates ‘self-professed fraud’ in my book), it matters a whole lot on who the blame should be adressed to.

    The university administrators should know better, and it would be appropriate for the Cardinal Newman Society to be very vocal about that. Yet if the students organised this – and loads of things at an university get organised by students without the administrators even knowing it – it seems unfair to castigate the university itself over it. Then the situation is more one of students in dire need of some spiritual direction and cathechesis. Also a serious matter, no doubt about that, but hardly one to be incensed by.

  10. ContraMundum says:

    With all the stuff that’s happened, I probably shouldn’t be surprised.

    But I am. Wow.

  11. albizzi says:

    That’s the ultimate scandal in the US church, without precedent until now. Will ever the local bishop denounce it?
    Staying silent equals to welcome it as innocent game, do not wonder why the devil is everywhere.
    From the SBU’s website:
    “Our professors are committed and approachable faculty who dedicate themselves to making connections – among themselves, their courses and, most importantly, their students.”
    Yes, making connections even with dead people. Incredible!

  12. Midwest St. Michael says:

    Just so folks can see it for themselves – here is the catechism on necromancy:

    Divination and magic

    2116 All forms of divination are to be rejected: recourse to Satan or demons, conjuring up the dead or other practices falsely supposed to “unveil” the future. Consulting horoscopes, astrology, palm reading, interpretation of omens and lots, the phenomena of clairvoyance, and recourse to mediums all conceal a desire for power over time, history, and, in the last analysis, other human beings, as well as a wish to conciliate hidden powers. They contradict the honor, respect, and loving fear that we owe to God alone.

  13. ScholaLady says:

    I really hope that this was something students organized without the admin’s knowleged. Probably a vain hope.
    I notice she is identified as a “registered medium,” as if this makes her more reputable somehow. Can’t help wondering how on earth one becomes registered as a medium.

  14. akp1 says:

    One thing a priest once said about mediums was that they never ‘get’ messages like repent, live better lives, seek God, etc – only mundane earthly messages – give that ring to so and so, etc proving that they cannot be true/for good. If they were really from heaven they would exhort their relatives to live good lives to get there too. I thought this was such a simple yet profound statement – I remembered it and kept it ready for when it’s needed!
    Certainly should not be needed in a Catholic University. Scandalous.

  15. Charles E Flynn says:

    There are a few details about the Saul case in Catholic Encyclopedia: Necromancy.

  16. To paraphrase a well known movie:

    “I see stupid people”

    Why would you? Just… why?

  17. pm125 says:

    Wouldn’t it have been heartening if, upon the appearance of the ad in the school’s web bulletin,
    students rose in opposition? A fruitful ‘occup’ation type of movement …

  18. mike cliffson says:


    Not very sucessful have I been as alone voice teaching my kids this prayer, yet my generation were taught the St Micheal Archangel prayer : we were told, by parents, teachers, and the priest who visted primary school that this is the sort of thing referred to in …”spirits who wander through the world for the ruin of souls ……”

    Saint Michael the Archangel,
    defend us in battle.
    Be our protection against the wickedness and snares of the devil.
    May God rebuke him, we humbly pray;
    and do Thou, O Prince of the Heavenly Host –
    by the Divine Power of God –
    cast into hell, satan and all the evil spirits,
    who roam through the world for the ruin of souls.

    Poor king Saul, I always felt sorry for him

  19. Supertradmum says:

    Part of the problem is the laxity in the Charismatic Renewal movement. I had to distance myself from such people years ago, when in search of “healing” and “deliverance”, many charismatics got involved in necromancy, thinking they were in touch with souls or “good spirits”. This happened in England at the New Dawn Conference several years ago, and I blame the priests for sloppy teaching on these things. The solid Father Ripperger mentioned above, warned us at a talk given many years ago that charismatics were dabbling in things which they had no business being involved with, such as exorcisms, “healing of buried memories” and other dubious ministries. Necromancy may seem to some like talking to the dead, which we cannot do. If one thinks one is doing this, one is talking to a demon, and in serious spiritual trouble.

    The other problem is this young generation’s preoccupation with the occult because of computer games (WoW), Harry Potter, Twilight, and a slew of other entertainments which open the door directly to witchcraft and necromancy. As to hucksterism, sadly, there are some people who have sold themselves to the devil for profit, power, and prestige. One of my best friends is a diocesan exorcist with years of experience and he has seen a serious rise in demonic activity from the occult preoccupations of the youth and not so young.

  20. catholicmidwest says:

    Licensed Fool,

    Because most students are kids, and most of them aren’t very well catechized. And they’re curious, and because they’re young, they don’t think anything bad can happen to them. And they’re dying to think about whether they’ll get a job, or if they’ll pass a class or if so-and-so really loves them.

    Besides, the culture tells them that these things are just a lark. After all, they read Harry Potter and watched Bewitched as children. Some of them think of it as a lark or as entertainment. They’re donating a can of peas, what can be wrong with that, they think.

  21. RickMK says:

    As a positive note for mike cliffson, I just wanted to mention that at my (100% Novus Ordo) parish, they say the Rosary before the 9:00 daily Mass and always include the Prayer to St. Michael as one of the prayers they add at the end of the Rosary. After daily Mass they say the Chaplet of Divine Mercy for the Pro-Life Cause, and include the Prayer to St. Michael after that too. So there are still places where it is in common use (not to mention in the Prayers After Mass at traditional Latin Masses).

    I just wish there were one standard translation of that prayer in English, like there is for most prayers, so everybody would be saying the same thing when praying it together in English instead of there being a cacophony of half a dozen different translations all being said at the same time.

  22. In Decretal commentary, per Charles Bachofen, we see that “a long list is given, geomantia, aeromantia, hydromantia, pyromantia, haruspicium, auspicium, augurium, pedomantia, chiromantia, omina, onyrocritica, physiognomia, spatulamantia, metoposcopia, pythonia, necromantia, astrologia …We quote these names to show that the number of fools has not yet decreased.” Dom Augustine, Commentary VIII: 313 (1931), in can. 2325.

  23. Gail F says:

    “No contacting the dead on university property” should not be something that has to be in the student handbook! Look, seances etc. have been considered harmless party fun by many for almost 200 years. Let’s not pretend we don’t know this. The Catholic church’s stance that it is NOT harmless party fun would probably be news to many of these students — and to many people in the pews everywhere. If the university had to clear the event (many universities do clear every event that goes on), they are the ones to be blamed. If the students did this on their own, the university should be disciplining them. Remembering what it was like to be a rather clueless student, I imagine that if they do so the students will be upset and shocked that anyone thinks they did something wrong. Intentions are all that matter to students, and they probably didn’t intend to do anything they thought was wicked or dangerous. But one thing people should learn in college is that intentions aren’t as important as what you actually DO. If the university is not disciplining them, that’s a serious matter.

  24. jmhj5 says:

    We have much of this in our Church. We have remained silent long enough. I have two grandchildren with last name…..DiBonaventuro…..So I say….St. Bonaventure pray against this filth……Father Harden pray against this evil.

  25. Dr. Sebastianna says:

    With exposure to “pop culture” on TV/radio, etc., it seems that mediumship is not as “shocking” as it once was, most especially to young people. I am not that old, and when I was a teen-ager, the “go to” activity was to use Ouija Boards at sleepovers. My parents and friends’ parents bought them for us with no questions asked. “It’s just a game,” we said.

    I am reminded of a frog… who is placed in lukewarm water and does not jump out of the pot… and is boiled to death as the heat is turned up gradually… I wonder if the average teenage or college-age “Catholic” girl/guy is aware that this activity is called necromancy… and that it’s a grave sin. Most Catholics don’t have the benefit of a Catholic Education… Parents may or may not talk about these things to their children (if they even believe it’s wrong). I don’t recall any lessons about this in my post-Vatican II CCD classes. The antidote to this is… formation, formation, and more formation… I’ve never heard a homily at Mass on Necromancy or the dangers of the occult. Pastors, Priests, Catechists, Parents, Catholic School Teachers, Concerned Friends, Please spread the word. These activities are dangerous. They are a type of spiritual Russian Roulette.

  26. jmhj5 says:

    Mother Mary -I know you are cleaning and cleaning our Church….please clean our Catholic Church of all evil….show us what to do….Thank you Mother Mary.

  27. akp1 says:

    I’m glad to say that last time a well known medium vsited the city I live in our priests took a stand and gave homilies about the dangers. The other Christian community Leaders were vocal in their disapproval as well. But plenty didn’t listen…

  28. Supertradmum says:

    I am not going to mention where, but as an instructor at a Catholic university in the States years ago, I used to take down the signs advertising mediums and such. All is fair in love and war….and this is War!

  29. chantgirl says:

    Catholic children are exsposed to the occult frequently. As a girl in the Girl Scouts, the ouija board was a popular activity. I would hang out with the moms instead of playing, but one incident disturbed me when one of the girls was using the board and her “dead baby sister” contacted her. Soon, all of the girls were hysterical. However, the parents let them use the game because it was “just a game”. As a stupid teenager, I went to a Rob Zombie concert having never seen any of his music videos. At that time I would have said, “It’s just music.”. However, when I showed up at the concert, he had cheesy B-movie horror films playing with naked women dancing in cages. I should have left then as I knew this was not kosher, but I stayed until the movie screen behind him showed a scene of a priest being hung. The crowd screamed in delight. At this point my slow brain decided that this was not just music and I bolted. It would have been nice to hear a few homilies or talks about the dangers of the occult as a kid. I went all the way through Catholic schools and my experiences were not unique.

  30. frdanbecker says:

    If she smiled, I would be tempted to slap her, for it’s important to strike a happy medium.

  31. Maltese says:

    Well, to look on the bright side, at least they didn’t invite someone to give a class on necrophilia!

    The other night I was playing with my ouija board and it spelled “LOST”. And I thought to myself, “so amazing, it works!” And so I threw some salt over my shoulder, rolled-out my rune stones, brought my black cat into the room, sat under a ladder, broke a mirror, and tried it again. Then it spelled, “you’re pathetic”.

    People who dabble (or believe) in such stuff are not only committing a grave sin but are, frankly, pathetic.

    That said, the Witch of Endor happened, the most famous exorcism in American history (upon which The Exorcist is based) did happen because a boy dabbled with a ouija board with his aunt did happen, and “ghosts” do exist. But read Hungry Souls, it is an incredible book by a Dutch psychotherapist, and published by the Traditional publisher TAN.

    I myself have experienced what I would term “poltergeist” activity, when I was a firefighter at a fire station that was reputed to be haunted–but I’ve never sought out such things. Actually, the house I live in now, dating to the late 1800’s, is what you might term “haunted”, which my kids and wife can attest to. But to seek such things is to seek that which is evil, or at least not good.

    Another, related, mortal sin is morose delectation, or the sin of focussing only on the negative.

    As Bing Crosby famously sang, “Accentuate the positive, eliminate the negative, latch onto the affirmative, and don’t mess with Mr. Inbetween”!

  32. frdanbecker, you kill me.

  33. aviva meriam says:

    This reminds me of the time when I (as a student at a DIFFERENT Catholic University) was introduced to a Tarot Reader through the RA in our Dorm. The woman claimed to be a devout, practicing Catholic and offered her services right before Finals for only $5…. she was well known to the University community (she did this every semester).

    I’m appalled at the reality that I participated in this many many years ago.

    When will our Institutions reflect the standards of our faith?

  34. @catholicmidwest

    You make several very fair points. I think my initial reaction was not as well considered or as charitable as it ought to have been.

    I must admit that if I look back to my days as a student I can’t exactly say I never did anything monumentally stupid (actually I can’t really say a week passed when Ididn’t…) so I shouldn’t really be so quick to condem others for it.

    However that does raise the very good point about poor catachesis combined with, as someone else commented, the prevelance of the occult in societies mainstream.

    Thank you for your considered response

  35. AnnAsher says:

    Ever read Robert Hugh Benson’s Necromancers ?
    His works are assigned reading at our house.

    I think after this article absolutely nothing can surprise me of ” Catholic” colleges and universities. Ive begun to seriously question whether they are places I want to send my children’s souls (and bodies and minds) after spending 18 years forming them to go in the right ways. Seems the colleges are the same cesspools as public elementary and high school.

  36. Phil_NL says:


    One should not forget that colleges and universities are distinctly not in the business of ‘raising children’. Their attendants are, safe a few – usually short-term – exceptions, adults. On the one hand this means that university admins will not, and should not be expected to, enforce ideal or even moral behavior. Catholic institutions may have somewhat tighter rules in order to protect them against scandal (like we have here) and preserve their identity (if they care about that, a big if), but don’t expect an education in morals. It’s not their job, they aren’t parents and at 18 morals are formed already (if the parents have done their job).

    On the other hand, their attendants being adults, it is not unreasonable to expect students to act like adults and bear responsibility for their own morals. Sadly, there will always be people who cannot shoulder that burden, but after 18 years of a proper education prior to college students should control themselves – and if they stil cannot it’s a lost cause for at least another decade. The forcable restraints will be lifted sooner or later, inside or outside college, and will never last long enough for those who cannot exert self-control. Yes, in theory colleges could try treating their students as kids for another 3-5 years, but at the end you then get exactly that: they’re still kids. A university should be a place for adults, period.

    But in the vast majority of cases where the first 18 years went right, the rest goes right too, so no need to dispair.

  37. Charivari Rob says:

    “Can’t help wondering how on earth one becomes registered as a medium.”

    Register medium?

    The meat thermometer should read 160 degrees F.

  38. albinus1 says:

    What really gets me is that a university administrator joined them. Can the university credibly say that it wasn’t a university-sponsored event, or that the students did this entirely on their own, if a university official showed up and took part?

    The university where I teach has a policy prohibiting faculty drinking alcohol with students. Not only does this mean no drinking on campus; it also means that if students are having a part off campus, or if some students (let’s assume that they are of legal age) are drinking in a bar on their own, off campus, I am forbidden from attending the party or joining the students who are drinking, because, as far as the university is concerned, the presence of a university employee could be construed as university sponsorship, or at least approval, of the students’ drinking.

  39. albinus1 says:

    Register medium? The meat thermometer should read 160 degrees F.

    Well, this event was certainly not well done. Let’s hope it’s a rare occurrence.

  40. gambletrainman says:

    Speaking of mediums, does anyone remember people like Jeanne Dixon, supposedly a “devout” Catholic who made a living predicting the future? The funny (or, sad) part of it was that she waited until after certain events (like the assassination of JFK), then made claims that she “warned” him about an impending fatal disaster if he did not heed her advice months ahead of time. People believed her lies, which was what made her so famous

  41. Man, Fr. Z has a lot of readers. My little site meter is glowing like a vac tube.

  42. AnAmericanMother says:

    Phil NL,
    I disagree. I have two college-age kids. My own experiences as an 18 year old college freshman, and the experiences of my children, convince me that 18 year olds are NOT adults and don’t have the discretion or common sense necessary to function as full adults. Some brain development studies back this up.
    There was a reason that the age of majority used to be 21, with 25 being the age for winding up minority trusts (and in many states, it still is).
    I was very pleased that my daughter’s college still entertained the concept of in loco parentis. That meant that college was a reasonable transition period, where she could start to learn to support herself and make adult decisions (she worked two jobs all the way through school) while still having mature and responsible adults around to consult and to guide her. She’s a better person for it, and I was a much less anxious mother.
    My son decided to go straight into the U.S. Marines out of high school. Needless to say, his DI was on him like ugly on a warthog in all aspects of his life, public and private, and it did him nothing but good.

  43. Atra Dicenda, Rubra Agenda says:

    This ridiculousness at ‘Catholic’ institutions is getting quite tired. I wonder if the witch of Endor was “registered” like this ‘medium’. I hope conscientious benefactors of this institution will let their opinions of these shenanigans be known by voting with their wallets.

  44. robtbrown says:

    Maybe they’ll contact St Pius V and ask him about liturgy.

  45. bookworm says:

    “Part of the problem is the laxity in the Charismatic Renewal movement. I had to distance myself from such people years ago, when in search of “healing” and “deliverance”, many charismatics got involved in necromancy, thinking they were in touch with souls or “good spirits”.”

    Well, you must be hanging out with a different crowd than me because in my experience — back in the 70s and 80s — Catholic charismatics were far more strict about avoiding ANYTHING the least bit occult or New Age, than “regular” Catholics were. They were as strict about it as evangelical/fundamentalist Protestants.

    The Catholic charismatics I knew, including my own mother, believed you shouldn’t even read your horoscope in the newspaper for fun, let alone actually visit a psychic or medium, because that would open you up to satanic powers. In fact, my mom had at one time been interested in psychic phenomena and the like but once she got involved in the charismatic movement she got rid of all her books on those subjects and was very adamant about teaching me never to mess with that stuff.

    Yes, I know some charismatics went overboard into seeing demons everywhere and trying to cast them out, but in general, they took demonic powers far more seriously and realized they were nothing to EVER be messed with, than did other Catholics.

  46. Ralph says:

    Pardon my uneducated question but when the cannon said “divination” does that include divining rods that are used to look for water? folks use them around these parts to find a good place to dig a deep well. is this an banned practice?

  47. robtbrown says:

    I’ve seen master plumbers use metal dowsing (divining) rods. They work because of the electromagnetic field formed by the flowing minerals in the water.

  48. James Joseph says:

    All I can say is don’t mess around with this stuff. It is evil.

    When I was a child it was common practice. I am still paying for it.

    It is outright scary. And, yes, the oppression is real.

  49. Phil_NL says:

    @An American Mother

    The interesting thing is that my impression (granted, from afar) of the USMC is that, while demaning high discipline and having loads of constraints, they are not treating their marines as kids. They have the full responsibility of their actions, and if they do something silly, they can have the entire UCMJ thrown at them, if the military is so inclined. This is hardly meant to educate the marines in question, but is meant to make the marine corps the best fighting machine it can be. That most marines actually benefit from it in terms of character development seems to me the side benefit (which further s the goal) rather than the main goal itself. The mission is to kill enemies, not raise marines.

    A university on the other hand, is not a military unit, but an academic one. Its mission requires a lower level of discipline, but a much higher level of independent thought. If the university is constantly sending the message ‘academically, we’ve high regards for your minds and will strive to make sure you can push yours to undreamt heights, but when it comes to everyday live, we think you cannot decide which events to attend’ that’s an inconsistency that will wreck at least one of the goals.

    As for the age of maturity, well, before it was 21, it was in effect a lot lower. History is full of examples of pre-21s, even under 18s, ruling entire countries, leading armies in battle and so on. That, say, a 19 year old commander of a frigate in the Royal Navy (yes, that did happen) still has some brain development to go did not matter for assuming his task or responsibilities.
    And in fact, that is in my view the more crucial part of being an adult: taking responsibilities for one’s actions. And as long as that responsibility is laid somewhere else, for example as a college acting in loco parentis, you’re bound to get students who behave as kids. After all, they’re treated as such, why would they behave any differently? It’s basically saying you expect them to be nothing better than kids.

    Now throwing an 18 year old in the deep without any sort of help will of course be the kind of shock therapy that sometimes produces victims/failures. But I’m convinced that if by age 18 you still need a lot of prohibitions (instead of advice) you’re simply admitting defeat in parenting for the first 18 years and try to keep the kid a kid a few years longer in the hope you can fix it. Which you seldom can.

  50. Supertradmum says:

    First of all, as a retired teacher of mostly college and university students, they are not children. If they act like that, there is a problem. The vast majority of students I taught from 1979 until 2011 were desiring to be adults and doing their best to be independent. I refused to treat them like children and they responded.

    Secondly, there are only a handful of truly Catholic colleges and universities in the States, so let us all stop pretending that if a college or university is named after a saint, The Blessed Virgin Mary or Christ, it is Catholic. We can count the really Catholic colleges on two hands: Thomas Aquinas in Santa Paula, Christendom, Wyoming Catholic, etc. We need to stop being surprised, as the rot set in a long time ago.

    As to parents being involved, only a few colleges and universities have the policy of “in loco parentis”. The parent AND the student needs to know the legality of this stand. For example, St. Thomas Aquinas, which has this policy, can act legally in ways another college cannot. The distinction is or should be known at Matriculation, as the student sign up for such an agreement or not. If the college or university is not “in loco parentis”, parents cannot expect the administration to act in the place of the parents.

    If your eighteen year old needs more parenting, then chose a college or university with in loco parentis, as the vast majority, starting in the 1960s, no longer hold that legal status. None of the State universities, at least at this time, have it anymore that I know of….

  51. eulogos says:

    It’s an odd thing, but when I was young, the skepticism in which I was raised protected me from such things. I had every so reluctantly given up God because if nothing exists but matter/energy, there is no place for spiritual beings. Where? So when kids talked about Ouija boards, I said, “It is hysteria, you work yourself up, you think it is moving on its own, but it is really you, maybe something in your subconscious. ” Astrology? I said, “How could where the stars were when you were born affect what happens to you now? What if labor were induced a week early; would that change your whole life? How? What’s the mechanism?” I had friends who spread out Tarot cards which are pretty darn creepy looking, but I just rolled my eyes. I remember at a very very dark time in my life, on the verge of my conversion, when I think the evil one was throwing everything possible at me , many things stuck, sex, drugs, abortion. During the darkest week of all, I was staying with some people who were playing with a whole slew of “occult” practices and trying to get me involved in them. “It’s not rational, ” I said. “How do you think it works?” I said. “It doesn’t make sense to me, ” I said. “If you believe in that, do you believe in angels and devils?” I asked. “What about God?” “Oh, no!” they responded. Just in “spiritual forces.” “What’s a spiritual force?” I asked. They were very annoyed with me. I managed to avoid participation until the end of the weekend. It was not out of virtue, of which I had very very little, but out of sheer embarrassment, and probably some intellectual pride, that I refused to participate.

    I was an old fashioned, materialist skeptic. But, as C.S. Lewis said, now the Enemy has perfected the materialist magician.

    Susan Peterson

  52. AnAmericanMother says:

    Phil NL,
    Here’s what I think you’re overlooking.
    In those days of wooden ships and iron men there were exceedingly strong social, class, moral and religious constraints on everyone. The rigidity is somewhat difficult for us to understand, but from the aristocracy down to the smallest tenant farmer everyone knew the rules and they were stricter than the strictest military academy or exclusive girls’ finishing school today.
    My great grandmother was married at 16 and a mother at 17 (and a widow at 20) but she knew what was expected of her because everyone agreed on it and taught it.
    The same is true of the USMC – there is a powerful framework within which the Corps functions, and everyone acknowledges and abides by it – not just the UCMJ, which is external and technical, but the common set of values and goals that everyone acknowledges.
    Within a strong societal framework, those of extraordinary ability will rise regardless of their age, and the system permits them to do so (at least in the Royal Navy!) But many (not all) of the weak and the immature are protected from destructive or thoughtless abuse.
    These days, there ARE no constraints, society makes no effort to impose any moral, social, or heaven knows religious boundaries on anyone, and the weak and immature (and many just ordinary average young people) go to the wall.
    You can go too far in the direction of social rigidity, but that’s not our problem right now, is it?

  53. Phil_NL says:

    @ AnAmericanMother

    I fear that in those days those norms were also very poorly adhered too in practice, especially among the upper class (for example, I’m reading an account of the Congress of Vienna right now, and the breakdown of morals was just about complete) but presumably further down the social ladder as well when one got the chance.

    I think we should make a distinction between moral behavior out of being forced to abide by the rules, and moral behavior for its own sake. I daresay that any youngster who exhibits the former but not the latter will have an exceedingly large chance of going overboard once the restraints are gone, and they will inevitably fall away at some point. A good education should be aiming for the second type of moral behavior, following the rules simply and only because it’s moral.

    And if that isn’t imprinted in one’s character by 18, no university will change it. Maybe marriage and kids will do so later on, but definately not university or college.

    I suppose you’re looking at it from a more protective point of view, but I stand by my point that 18 year olds should manage that themselves. Not only is it contradictory to the main misson of a university, which requires independent thinking and acting, it’s also sending the wrong message in terms of expectations, namely that these students are not responsible for themselves.

  54. The University has given an explanation. I take it from the CNS website.

    Update: Saint Bonaventure University released this statemnt concerning this incident: While some university staff were aware of the students’ plans to host this event, there was a lack of awareness by these staff and students of the conflict of this activity with our mission. We therefore took the opportunity to educate our students and involved staff about the conflict with mission. Our students were earlier that same week involved with events associated with the Franciscan World Day of Prayer for Peace, and others dedicated their midterm break to volunteering at the St. Francis Inn Soup Kitchen in Philadelphia. Given these and countless other frequent activities that represent our mission, it would be irresponsible for anyone to characterize this isolated event as reflective of the University’s or our students’ Catholic-Franciscan character or identity.

  55. AnAmericanMother says:

    Father Z,

    Well, that’s something. I hope it’s not just a fig leaf.


    I think we can agree that anything Talleyrand was involved in was going to run off the rails!

    Apropos of that agreeable Abbe’, you might enjoy this if you’ve never read it:
    A Priest in Spite of Himself

    You’ll have to read this first to understand it all:
    “Brother Square-Toes”

    I’m well aware of “preacher’s kid syndrome” and for that matter “Baptist Bible College Syndrome” since my father in law was a PK and one of my best friends ran off the rails at Bible college. Our home life was always based on education and trust, not force, but there are limits and they were always upheld. There have to be limits, and they will be tested.

    We were looking for a college that adhered to the same principles — not heavy-handed enforcement but the acknowledgement that kids away from home for the first time are going to need advice and guidance, and good examples. Are there kids who run wild anyway? Of course, but so long as the college provides positive choices for the kids who do NOT want to run wild, and keeps the peer pressure under control, that’s a good thing. And teaching independent thinking does not mean removing all moral guidelines and instruction (if they don’t need instruction, and it’s all independent thinking, to heck with college and get on with the University of Life. But many will fall by the way.)

    If I leave my hair down or braid it and wear scruffies I can “pass” if you don’t look closely. I hung around for a day in various places on campus and just listened and observed. Slipped into the back of a couple of classes, loitered around the library, hung out at the campus center. I liked what I heard and saw.

  56. Kypapist says:

    Do you suppose it is a coincidence that today my daily cat cartoon calendar features Tabby visiting a fortune teller with nine crystal balls on the table?

  57. Phil_NL says:


    Talleyrand had perhaps fallen the furthest from what he should be, but from Metternich on down the Austrians didn’t do much credit to themselves (at least on the moral front), and Tsar Alexander… the worst of our present-day students could perhaps learn a few things from him, in several areas, but not much good. Thanks for the reading tips, by the way.

    Getting back to the point of education (which was in itself already bordering on the off-topic, I beg Fr. Z’s continued indulgence) : you’re of course quite right that a university cannot operate in a moral vacuum either. For starters there’s the issue of academic integerty, that no college can or should avoid, secondly, some support from the institution against peer pressure may be needed as would be some for of guidance, at a minimum for those who seek it. If students actually live on campus (I’m in Europe, where that’s not the case in many places) that requires a bit more attention to these issues as well.

    What I was mainly arguing against was the idea that such an approach should be comprehensive, in that a university would try to weed out any sins and infractions the way a parent would. That is not the job of a college, and as I argued counterproductive. Moreover, such a comprehensive attitude would be aimed at a moral education, and I’m off the opinion that the vast majority of that should be done well before 18. If that’s done, students are – and should – be able to assume responsibility for their own life and morals. Perhaps a bit of help (as opposed to long lists of ‘thou shalt not’s) is welcome every now and then, but that even goes for adults.

    So I won’t deny that some support wouldn’t be helpful at times, for some, maybe a majority even. However, support and guidance are different from rules, and don’t preclude taking responsibility. It was mainly the – in my view, wholly unrealistic – expectations some seem to have of colleges that triggered me in this discussion.

  58. catholicmidwest says:

    How the hell could there be a ” lack of awareness by these staff and students of the conflict of this activity with our mission.” I’m every bit as appalled by their “explanation” as I was by the fact that it happened in the first place. Maybe more. What the hell kind of educational institution is this that they didn’t know what it was? How is this place Catholic, exactly, that they can’t spot this?

    They’re all as stupid as two bags of hammers. The ad is as plain as day. What does it need, blinking neon lights and thunderbolts from the heavens to get these people to connect 2 and 2???

  59. Phillip says:

    “Registered medium” pretty much made my night.

  60. AnAmericanMother says:

    I don’t think we disagree. :-D We just have different definitions of “in loco parentis”. Given that far too many colleges are allowing same-sex dormitories and even rooms, ignoring heavy-duty drinking until kids are hitting the ER with alcohol poisoning, etc., my definition is pretty elastic.


    I’ve been trying to dream up a charitable explanation. How about, the staff involved weren’t Catholic? Episcopalians or Unitarians would see nothing wrong with this and would just think it was “spiritual”.

    The kids I presume were uncatechized, as far too many are these days. We’re into the second or third generation without any systematic instruction in the nuts and bolts of Catholicism, in many quarters.

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