Sunday, December 4, 2011

Bravo Fordham! Bravo, Bravissimo!

Joseph M. McShane, S.J., President
Bob Howe, Director of Communications
Fordham University
441 E. Fordham Road
Bronx, NY 10458

Dear Father McShane & Mr. Howe,

Especially in light of the Obama Administration's efforts to coerce Catholic institutions to violate Catholic teaching, I was delighted to read of Fordham's adherence to the USCCB's Ethical and Religious Directives for Catholic Health Care Services! In Fordham Students Protest Hidden Anti-Birth-Control Policy [Updated], Bob Howe is quoted as saying: "We are a Catholic university and do follow church teachings on birth control, among other issues." Permit me to digress, just slightly....

In 1929, German philosopher Dietrich Von Hildebrand published Marriage, which has been described on EWTN's web site as the "the earliest orthodox presentation of the personalistic approach to matrimony which would find its way into Vatican II's Guadium et Spes, Pope Paul VI's encyclical Humanae Vitae and best represented in the writings of Pope John Paul II. For this and his other writings, Pope Pius XII called von Hildebrand 'the 20th century Doctor of the Church.'" A biography of von Hildebrand even featured a forward by a Vatican cardinal, who went on to a bigger job!:

  • "Dietrich von Hildebrand was exceptional in many ways. His extensive writings on Christian philosophy, spiritual theology, and in defense of the Church's teaching, place him among the great thinkers of the twentieth century. His steadfast and determined opposition to totalitarianism, whether in the form of National Socialism or Marxist Leninism, a conviction that would cost him greatly during his life, illustrates the profound clarity of his moral vision and his willingness to suffer for what he knew was true."

After being targeted for assassination by Hitler, Von Hildebrand was hunted throughout Europe, before arriving in NYC in 1940 and teaching at a certain Jesuit school until 1960. In 1966, Von Hildebrand published Man and Woman: Love and the Meaning of Intimacy (My quote is from Sophia Institute's 1992 edition.):

  • "Every active intervention on the part of the spouses, which eliminates the possibility of conception through the conjugal act, is incompatible with the holy mystery of the superabundant relation in the incredible gift offered by God....To make use of natural family planning is not to imply the slightest irreverence or rebellion against God's institution and the wonderful link between the love union and procreation" (pp. 68 - 69).

Largely through his protegee, Dr. William Marra, von Hildebrand maintained ties with Fordham till his death in 1977 - the Spring semester of my own freshman year. Though he often seems forgotten by Fordham, I am confident that your current forthrightness has left good old Dietrich smiling!


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