Bishop Denounces ‘Perverse’ and ‘Blasphemous’ Writings of Holy Cross Professor

Bishop-elect of the Diocese of Worcester, Mass., Robert J. McManus speaks at a news conference at the Chancery in Worcester, Tuesday, March 9, 2004. McManus, who is currently auxiliary Bishop of Providence, R.I., will be installed as Bishop of Worcester during a ceremony on May 14. (AP Photo/Michael Dwyer)
AP/Michael Dwyer

The Catholic bishop of the Diocese of Worcester has condemned the eroticized theological writings of a Holy Cross professor who has suggested that Jesus Christ was a “drag king” with “queer desires.”

“I am deeply troubled and concerned to hear that someone who holds an endowed chair in New Testament studies at the College of the Holy Cross has authored such highly offensive and blasphemous notions,” said Bishop Robert J. McManus (pictured) in an online statement. “Such positions have no place in the biblical scholarship of a professor who teaches at a Catholic college and who, as such, should be supportive of the college’s Catholic identity and mission.”

As Breitbart News reported on March 28, the gender-soaked writings of Holy Cross Professor Tat-Siong Benny Liew include a description of Jesus washing the apostles’ feet at the Last Supper as “literary striptease” as well as the suggestion that Jesus experienced his suffering on the cross as a masochistic sexual encounter with God the Father.

After an avalanche of negative publicity surrounding Professor Liew’s controversial statements, Jesuit Father Philip Boroughs, president of the College of the Holy Cross, rushed to his defense, appealing to academic freedom to “push boundaries” while insisting that the professor is a “man of faith” as well as an “engaged scholar.”

In his statement, Bishop McManus took issue with Father Boroughs’ understanding of “academic freedom,” noting that it does not justify “blatantly unorthodox teaching” especially in the disciplines of Theology or Religious Studies.

“Clearly the biblical conclusions that Professor Liew has reached in his writings are both false and perverse,” the bishop said.

Catholic educational institutions are responsible for teaching in accordance with Catholic belief, and students have a right to expect that, he noted.

“The Church is the steward of her authentic Catholic faith, and Catholic institutions of higher learning have the mission to teach the normative faith of the Church in communion with the Church’s authentic Magisterium,” he said.

McManus further said that Holy Cross College has a duty to ask Professor Liew whether he continues to hold and defend the blasphemous biblical positions he wrote about some years ago.

“If he disavows them, then he must state so publicly, so as not to create confusion about the nature of Christ,” he said. “If he does not, then it is my duty as the Bishop of Worcester to clearly state that such teaching is a danger to the integrity of the Catholic faith and, in prudence, warn the Catholic faithful committed to my pastoral care that such unorthodox teaching has no place in a Catholic College whose mission is to promote and cultivate the Catholic intellectual tradition.”

The bishop said it was “particularly disheartening” for him to be addressing this disturbing issue during Holy Week, when Christians commemorate the passion, death, and resurrection of Jesus Christ.

The story was originally broken by investigative reporter Elinor Reilly, a senior at Holy Cross, in an article in the conservative campus newspaper The Fenwick Review.

The “position and prestige which accompany an endowed chair in Religious Studies testify to the esteem in which his work is held by the College’s administration and academic community,” Ms. Reilly stated.

“He continues to be held up as an example and a bold successor to the learned and discerning tradition of our Catholic and Jesuit College of the Holy Cross,” she wrote.

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