On Thursday, Katie penciled a column complaining about how St. Thomas was on the verge of becoming a godless, secular institution. The prophecy of Frank Mach has come to pass, early even:
By the time St. Thomas' bicentennial rolls around in 2085, Mach wrote, any remaining link between St. Thomas and its Catholic roots "is likely to be vague and mostly symbolic."
In fact, events seem ahead of schedule.
Since St. Thomas' founding in 1885, the archbishop of the Archdiocese of St. Paul and Minneapolis has held the position of chairman of its board of trustees. But Mach noted that "a vote of the trustees and a subsequent stroke of the pen," could make such connections with the church "vestiges of the past."
On Oct. 25, 2007, the vote that Mach foresaw took place.
St. Thomas' trustees voted to eliminate the archbishop's automatic position on the board. As a result, come next spring, for the first time since Archbishop John Ireland founded the institution, a sitting archbishop will not chair the St. Thomas board.
Moreover, he may not even have a seat on it.
In future years, the trustees can elect as chair whomever they wish: a layperson, technically even a Buddhist.
Say it ain't so, Katie! At least it couldn't be a Muslim. Right? It could? Gasp!
Katie—nobody ever said that she wasn't on the ball—suspects that the change is the result of the fact that the new archbishop for the area is going to be the jack-booted Herr John Nienstedt:
Some [in this context, boys and girls, "some"means "me"] speculate that Archbishop Harry Flynn's upcoming retirement was a major factor in the board's vote. During Flynn's 12 years as chair, little has been done to resist the slide to secularization. He will be succeeded in 2008 by Coadjutor Archbishop John Nienstedt, who has a reputation for orthodoxy.
Katie was so looking forward to Nienstedt kicking some serious ass at St. Thomas! But alas, it is not to be.
How do you know that Katie was looking forward to it, Spot?
The beads of sweat on her upper lip are a dead giveaway, grasshopper.
Well, fine, but how does the current archbishop figure in?
Thanks for the reminder, grasshopper. This letter was in the Strib today:
It is just shocking that someone, anyone, much less an archbishop, would question Katie's motives!
Katherine Kersten's column of Dec. 4 ("Battle for soul of St. Thomas takes a turn for the worse") was an inaccurate and slanted portrayal of the current and future Catholicity of the University of St. Thomas.
I simply wish to make two points about the statement she quoted as being from our "Archdiocesan spokesman":
First, the statement we e-mailed and faxed to her was headlined as being a "Statement of the Archdiocese of Saint Paul and Minneapolis." It came from me, not from our "spokesman."
Second, and more important, Kersten used only the first sentence of my statement in her column. The other two sentences were ignored. They read as follows: "The Saint Thomas board will always include bishops or priests. Any rumors or speculation about the 'de-Catholicization of the University of Saint Thomas are ill founded, inaccurate and ludicrous.'"
The editing of my statement leaves open to question her motivation in writing this one-sided and inaccurate column.
THE REV. HARRY J. FLYNN, ST. PAUL;
ARCHBISHOP OF THE ARCHDIOCESE OF ST. PAUL AND MINNEAPOLIS
The funny thing is, Spot thinks that Katie is right. There is a battle going on for the soul of St. Thomas. The winner will determine whether St. Thomas continues to grow, develop and flower as an institution worthy of the name "university," or whether it retreats to become the citadel of orthodoxy that Katie wants.
Godspeed, St. Thomas.