The Jesuit-run Georgetown University has become the first Catholic college to hire a Hindu priest as chaplain, with Brahmachari Vrajvihari Sharan leading his first worship service for students on Sunday.
The scandal-ridden university has come under constant fire in recent years for allegedly betraying its Catholic charter, and this latest hiring move will surely add more grist to the mill of those who would like to see Georgetown lose its title as “Catholic.”
Last April, Georgetown hosted Planned Parenthood chief Cecile Richards, who had been invited to speak about reproductive rights to some 400 students at the Lohrfink Auditorium. Richards was greeted with a standing ovation.
Michael Khan, President of Georgetown Right to Life, told the Daily Caller that he was disappointed, but not terribly surprised, that his university had granted a platform to someone so opposed to Christian values.
“We’re probably the most liberal Catholic university in the nation,” Khan said. “Many of our students and faculty aren’t Catholic and are very hostile to Catholic doctrine.”
Bentley Hatchett, a volunteer with Tradition, Family and Property, called Richards’ appearance a “scandal,” noting that the first responsibility of a Catholic college should be “to be faithful to the church and consistent with the church’s message.”
According to Georgetown officials, whereas other universities have employed Hindu monks (who have less training than priests) or lay people to work as chaplains for Hindu students, Sharan is the first full-fledged Hindu priest to serve in the role of chaplain at any university in the United States.
Georgetown also has a rabbi and an imam on staff, available as chaplains to students who are looking for guidance. The university has approximately 300 Hindu students across undergraduate and graduate schools.
At Sunday’s service, the 31-year-old Sharan urged his congregation to study up on Hinduism.
“Our Catholic friends will ask, ‘Why do you have so many gods? Why do they have so many arms?’” he said. “Why, why, why? It feels like you have to be an ambassador for your entire religion. We want to make sure you have some knowledge.”
Though Georgetown boasts of being “the oldest Catholic and Jesuit institute of higher learning in the United States,” it has repeatedly been criticized for having sacrificed its integrity and Catholic identity on the altars of the secularism.
William Peter Blatty, author of “The Exorcist” and an alumnus of Georgetown University, submitted a petition to the Vatican in 2013 requesting that Church officials strip his alma mater of the titles of “Catholic” and “Jesuit” because it had abandoned its Catholic identity.
In response to criticism over its decision to invite Richards last spring, Georgetown officials released a statement declaring, “Our Catholic and Jesuit identity on campus has never been stronger.”
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