In the seventh year of the Cardinal Newman Society’s campaign to rid Catholic colleges of the obscene and offensive playThe Vagina Monologues, 19 Catholic campuses will host the play in the weeks surrounding Saint Valentine’s Day. The number of performances has declined annually from a peak of 32 in 2003.
“In the holy season of Lent and just weeks before the Holy Father visits the United States, these nominally Catholic colleges will shame themselves publicly in defiance of Catholic morals and basic civility,” said Patrick J. Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society (CNS). Pope Benedict XVI will address the presidents of all American Catholic colleges on April 17, and he is likely to repeat the Vatican’s calls for the reform of Catholic education.
“Most disturbing of all is the return of The Vagina Monologues to the University of Notre Dame,” Reilly said. “In the absence of moral leadership, Notre Dame will again thumb its nose at Bishop D’Arcy, who has publicly condemned the play and chastised the university.”
Fort Wayne Bishop John D’Arcy has complained that The Vagina Monologues is “offensive to women” and “antithetical to Catholic teaching.” Last year the play was moved off Notre Dame’s campus, but this year campus performances will be sponsored by the Anthropology and Sociology Departments. CNS has written to Bishop D’Arcy urging him to intervene.
In The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, CNS refused to recommend Notre Dame, noting one professor’s chilling comment that “a kid who is struggling with his faith will sink like a stone.” But Newman Guide editor Joseph Esposito expressed hope that Notre Dame would strengthen its Catholic identity.
By contrast, 193 Catholic colleges in the United States will not participate in the annual “V-Day” college campaign, which occurs each year around Saint Valentine’s Day.
“The nominally Catholic colleges that host this vile play are increasingly marginalized,” Reilly said. “The progress is slow, but we’re winning the fight against the Monologues.”
More than half of the colleges hosting the play in 2008 are Jesuit, a fact with particular significance following recent statements by Pope Benedict XVI urging the Jesuits to fidelity and loyalty to the Church.
The Vagina Monologues is a sexually explicit and offensive play that favorably describes lesbian activity, group masturbation, and the reduction of sexuality to selfish pleasure. In one scene, the lesbian seduction of a teenage girl is described as the girl’s “salvation” that “raised her into a kind of heaven.”
CNS has contacted the president of each host college by mail, urging them to halt the play. CNS is also calling on its more than 20,000 members and other Catholics to convey their concerns about the Monologues to college presidents.