On Robert George by James Hitchcock

On Robert George

Anti-Catholicism is rife in American intellectual circles, even more so, I think, than in the general culture. It is not the old-fashioned Protestant kind, in which the Catholic Church is the Whore of Babylon, but the “enlightened” kind in which the Church is the enemy of progress. Much of it stems from the Church’s opposition to abortion and homosexuality, and if the Church would change its positions on those issues, most of the hostility would cease.

Catholics as such are not necessarily discriminated against in academia. My impression is that graduates of Catholic colleges (although not Catholic graduate schools) do about as well as anyone in finding academic jobs. However, my impression is also that such people probably fall away from the Church in greater numbers than do Catholics in general, and those who still practice their faith are likely to be closer in theology to Hans Küng than to Pope John Paul II. Sometimes they weigh in with criticisms of the Church that reinforce the hostility of their secular colleagues.

All this having been said, it is a pleasure to recognize a major exception to the pattern, which is the recent appointment of Robert George to the McCormick Chair of Jurisprudence at Princeton University, one of the most prestigious professorships in the country in the area of political thought. Its first occupant was Woodrow Wilson.

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James Hitchcock is Professor emeritus of History at St. Louis University in St. Louis. He and his late wife Helen have four daughters. His most recent book is the two-volume work, The Supreme Court and Religion in American Life (Princeton University Press, 2004). He is a senior editor of Touchstone.

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