In the interview with Catholic San Francisco prior to the USF commencement, Father Privett reportedly defended the use of condoms to prevent the spread of HIV/AIDS, despite the consistent teaching of the Catholic Church that condom use is always immoral.
“HIV/AIDS is an epidemic in his [Dowling’s] diocese and in whole areas of Africa,” Privett says in the article. “I think people need to understand the difference between a condom as a contraceptive and a condom preventing the spread of a deadly virus that is literally killing thousands of people in Africa."
The Cardinal Newman Society has vigorously opposed USF performances of The Vagina Monologues and dissident commencement speakers such as Nancy Pelosi in 2007. Fr. Privett reportedly defends these as well.
"When we bring these speakers onto campus, we don't bring them as spokespersons for a position with which we disagree," Fr. Privett is quoted as saying, blaming critics for failing to consider the totality of student experiences when they accuse USF of not supporting Church teaching.
"They only see the commencement speaker or The Vagina Monologues. They don't see the other 240 days. They're not at Sunday liturgies. They're not at student retreats. It's the tip and not the whole iceberg."
Yet there have been multiple concerns about the University of San Francisco’s Catholic identity, including the following in recent years:
- USF’s two health insurance plans for employees both provide for abortion, sterilization and contraception. Complaints led USF to drop similar coverage in a student insurance plan, and officials say they are in favor of improving the employee plans, according to reports by Our Sunday Visitor.
- USF’s student health clinic stopped referring students to Planned Parenthood for abortions after the practice was revealed in December 2008.
- USF recently dropped its graduate theology program.
- USF hosted the performance of a play that contradicts Church teaching on homosexuality after San Francisco Archbishop George Niederauer refused to allow it to be performed at a diocesan parish.
- USF bestowed an honorary degree upon Irish President Mary McAleese, despite her public dissent from Church teaching on the all-male priesthood.
- USF hosted a film festival co-sponsored by the USF Gender and Sexuality Department and a homosexual student club, which featured at least two films which promote abortion and same-sex marriage.
- USF touted on its website a “birth spacing” study produced by students which promoted the use of artificial contraceptives.
Catholic San Francisco reported that USF philosophy professor Raymond Dennehy is among those who believes the Jesuit institution’s Catholic identity has eroded under Fr. Privett’s leadership. Dennehy said that the dialogue Fr. Privett hopes to encourage is presented in a one-sided manner on campus, with most guest speakers dissenting against Church teaching.Referring to Bishop Dowling’s honorary degree, Dennehy said, "Dialogue is having speakers both pro and con. This is giving an award, and you can bet your bottom dollar that (USF) would not do that if (the speaker) were anti-gay marriage."
Link (here) to the piece at The Cardinal Newman Society website