Anthony Esolen is under attack by Providence College

I’ve mentioned Prof. Anthony Esolen quite often in these electronic pages. He is a serious scholar with a great pen. I’m usual struck with a little envy at his writing style.

Esolen is under attack by liberals.

There is an article about this at the ever more useful Crisis.

A sample:

The Providence College Mob Comes for Anthony Esolen.


A group of students accused him of racism. His attempts to discuss the issues with them were rebuffed. A band of students instead held a demonstration led by a bullhorn-wielding woman demanding “inclusion” and attention to a list of other demands to remake the university according to adolescent utopian ideals.

The band of students did meet with the president of the college, Fr. Brian Shanley. Sadly, Fr. Shanley followed the template of invertebrate college administrators everywhere: He weakly defended Esolen’s academic freedom but—and there’s always a “but”—rebuked him for causing “pain” to the protesting students. Shanley then suggested that Esolen’s truth-telling had violated “our fundamental imperative on a Catholic campus: to be charitable to one another.”

Several questions come to mind. First, did Shanley bother to read Esolen’s essay on diversity? It is truly inclusive, in the genuine meaning of that word. It focuses on what a Catholic college is supposed to be about—imparting the truth about God and his creation, where all are “truly at one with each other” when they “behold the same object of wonder, and lose themselves in that wonder.”


About Fr. John Zuhlsdorf

Fr. Z is the guy who runs this blog. o{]:¬)
This entry was posted in Liberals, Si vis pacem para bellum!, The Drill, The Last Acceptable Prejudice and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.


  1. msc says:

    Sad, but increasingly common. I have found myself becoming ever more careful in the classroom and second-guessing myself about what might cause offence. That might be cowardly, but when one is guilty until proven innocent and there is no way to prove one’s innocence, there isn’t much one can do. I hope Dr. Esolen gets through this. Maybe Ave Maria or a similar institution can poach him away from Providence.

  2. Dr. Edward Peters says:

    ” invertebrate college administrators” Great phrase. And I agree with you about CRISIS. It has been reasserting itself as a worthwhile read, once again. Interesting.

  3. Charles E Flynn says:

    From Providence College and Dr. Anthony Esolen: An Alumnus Speaks Out, by Dr. Michael J. Rubin , for the Catholic World Report:

    Many are appalled by the treatment of Dr. Anthony Esolen at Rhode Island’s Providence College. And rightly so. But the unfortunate truth is that these events only confirm what I as a Providence College alumnus have known for over a decade: Dr. Esolen is a living example of Christ’s words that “a prophet is not without honor, except in his own country.”

  4. MarthaE says:

    I am a Providence College alum and am incredibly disappointed in what is happening there currently, especially with the actions of Fr. Shanley. He is much different than he was when he started over a decade ago – he actually didn’t allow a one woman show named after the female anatomy to be performed on campus because it didn’t align with the school’s Catholic principles.

  5. JustaSinner says:

    And yet the brain dead Fishwrappers and their ilk wonder why the Catholic Faith is in decline in America. If only THE ENTIRE FAITHFUL would lock step march with them in their Diet Catholicism; all the Sanctimony of a regular Catholic Mass, but only a third of the sacrifice!

  6. Benedict Joseph says:

    Those sporting the sanctimonious superiority complex accompanying fraudulent scholarship of left-wing academia have found their perfect embrace with their subspecies in Ecclesia – Catholic “higher” education, which prostituted itself to secular materialism with the Land O’Lakes Conference in 1967.
    On parallel tracks the same phenomena mirrored in dioceses, religious life, parish life, and now we see it in full flower in Rome.
    We are in the hands of the disorientated hoping for a stab at being part of the respectable zeitgeist at the expense of being faithful to Jesus Christ and the noble quest for depth knowledge.
    Dr. Esolen is one of countless victims of this malevolent mob fueled on hubris where there should be only palpable humility.
    That Dr. Esolen is not being defended vigorously by the Dominicans, by the administration, Board of Directors and faculty bespeaks the decay of the post Vatican II reality. It is a scandal perpetrated on the students of Providence. This entire episode should have been met with a stunning and shocking suppression that would have resulted in terminations and expulsions. And yes, I did use that foul word – suppression.
    $60,000 a year for such an exercise in lunacy.

  7. Sean says:

    From Archbishop Charles J. Chaput “Remembering Who We Are and the Story We Belong To,” October 19, 2016 –
    “A theologian in my own diocese recently listed “inclusivity” as one of the core messages of Vatican II. Yet to my knowledge, that word “inclusivity” didn’t exist in the 1960s and appears nowhere in the council documents.
    If by “inclusive” we mean patiently and sensitively inviting all people to a relationship with Jesus Christ, then yes, we do very much need to be inclusive. But if “inclusive” means including people who do not believe what the Catholic faith teaches and will not reform their lives according to what the Church holds to be true, then inclusion is a form of lying. And it’s not just lying but an act of betrayal and violence against the rights of those who do believe and do seek to live according to God’s Word. Inclusion requires conversion and a change of life; or at least the sincere desire to change.”

  8. SenexCalvus says:

    I agree with the CRISIS authors’ description of Dr. Esolen’s writings as “luminous” and would add that anyone who hasn’t already done so should watch his videoed lectures on YOUTUBE. An hour spent listening to Dr. Esolen is enough to heal the wounds inflicted by a year’s worth of vapid homilies. On a personal note, I must add that I have emailed an occasional question or comment to Dr. Esolen and invariably received a warm, thoughtful reply before the end of the day. He is a gentleman.

  9. majuscule says:


    I did not know that Dr. Esolen has lectures on YouTube Thank you for mentioning that!

  10. iamlucky13 says:

    “our fundamental imperative on a Catholic campus: to be charitable to one another.”

    If you wanted to state one, all-encompassing fundamental imperative of a Catholic university, I don’t see how it can be anything other than to teach truth, including both academically (providing a good education), and theologically (contributing to the understanding of the students on Catholic teaching). Truth includes the necessity of charity towards all, but if we try to isolate charity from seeking truth and even elevate it above seeking truth, we can easily fall into the trap of thinking that silently accepting the beliefs of others is the pinnacle of charity, even if we think they’re wrong.

    Thus, Prof. Esolen is supposedly compelled by charity to accept the beliefs of others without comment. Strangely others are not likewise compelled to accept his beliefs without comment. They instead presume to be entitled not only to comment (fair), but also to seek punishment against him for holding divergent beliefs (plainly unfair), while rejecting even the opportunity to discuss those beliefs and better understand the actual degree they diverge.

    Thus, this quote and following paragraphs from his diversity essay were prescient:

    “So let us suppose that a professor should affirm some aspect of the Church’s teaching…Will his right to do so be confirmed by those who say they are committed to diversity?”

    That said, his essay on persecution was a bit incendiary and even presumptuous (eg: bishops who close parishes in decline are secretly happy to do so). I’m not the least bit surprised it offended people, even secular readers who it wasn’t really directed to. Regardless, charity towards Prof. Esolen and seeking to understand why he wrote what he did certainly must be applied at least before, if not instead of reprimanding him, right Father Shanley?

    The question is worth repeating: did Father Shanley read what Professor Esolen wrote?

  11. W1LZN says:

    It is sad – a sorrow that seeps deep into the soul- that the flagship college for us Dominicans- and the St. Joseph Province at that- has sunk to this level! For our main rallying cry to be “Veritas!” this is nothing but a betrayal of St. Dominic, and St. Thomas, and St Albert, and . . .. What is becoming of my beloved Dominicans!! Professor Esolen has always spoken and written truth with and in charity. I have no doubts why they were removed from the list of Cardinal Newman Guide to Catholic Colleges after a brief appearance years ago. OP’s let’s get our act together!

  12. Charles E Flynn says:

    Associate VP of Providence College responds to CWR article about Dr. Esolen (UPDATED), by Carl E. Olson, editor of the Catholic World Report.

  13. Kathleen10 says:

    We can all help Prof. Esolen, who is a treasure and does not deserve this.
    Recently in Massachusetts, another liberal playground, the administrators took down all flags on the campus following a flag incident, thereby turning a minor incident into a major one. Veterans groups and supporters protested outside the campus, causing said administrators to rethink the issue. End result: flags back up on campus
    We should get behind Prof. Esolen, and encourage others to do the same. Unfortunately, there are so many of these Marxist-style attacks by kiddies and their enablers it is hard to keep up, but, we can and should take the time to support someone as superb as Prof. Esolen. Like Senex Calvus, I received an email from him in response to an email I had written, after I had read something he had written that was completely inspiring and profound. He is gracious and warm, and he has a family. Perhaps Fr. Shanley will do the right thing if enough people contact his office and ask for just that. They of course also have a Facebook page.
    Providence College is 1-401-865-1000.
    Fr. Shanley is at 1-401-865-2153.
    If we want good things to happen we have to begin to fight for it as much as the other side fights against it. If hundreds of people contacted PC (the irony) and let them know they expect Prof. Esolen to be treated fairly and for him to continue at PC, that is likely what would happen.
    If you want to beat fascists you must be louder and more persistent than they are. Write letters, send faxes, email, that kind of thing. Alums of course have particular sway.

  14. Legisperitus says:

    Is this Fr. Shanley any relation to the disgraced Fr. Paul Shanley? Just asking.

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