Your thoughts on the Napa Institute summer conference
In a recent commentary, John Gehring talks about the Napa Institute Summer Conference, at which he announced his intention to expand his work to include programs on priestly formation and a series of lectures at the University of Notre Dame. Below are letters to the editor in response to the comment. Speakers also rallied attendees to fight culture wars, reject the Black Lives Matter movement, debunk what they called the lies behind gender ideology, and defend church teachings in the face of what organizers consider. as an increasingly hostile secular society. The letters have been edited for length and clarity.
I very much appreciate John Gehring’s comments on the latest Napa Institute gathering. While Gehring makes some interesting observations, there is one paragraph in particular that stood out to me. He declares:
Speakers also repeatedly cautioned against “the homosexual way of life” and “gender ideology”.
… Mary Rice Hasson… lamented that “we have a whole generation of children who are brought up with the idea that their feelings decide reality.
Human beings are “created either male or female,” Hasson said. “Sex cannot change. Your feelings are really irrelevant to this conversation. You cannot change a single cell in your body. You cannot change your fundamental identity.”
I still wonder what the science says. Is it possible, on the basis of science, that its gender is determined at the “genetic” level, independent of “bodily” identity and feelings play an important role here? What do current genetic studies seem to support?
I question this because in my own area of ministerial study I have found that often our historical interpretation of the Scriptures has been limited by our science. Thus, Pope Francis questioned our historical justification for the unjust exploitation of the earth’s resources on the basis of an interpretation of Scripture that “man has dominion over the earth.” This, as François notes in “Laudato Si ‘, On Care for Our Common Home, “no longer works because the planet itself is in danger. So companies that indiscriminately use the earth’s resources to improve their bottom line must be held accountable for their crimes. Our recent findings ( that is, studies on global warming) support our “reinterpretation” of Scripture which limits man’s “dominance” over the earth.
In the final analysis, just like in the discussion of the earth’s resources, I want to see the science that can eventually help us understand how God “made them male and female.” This can lead us to a clearer understanding of the terms.
JERILYN E. FELTON
Whenever I read something related to the Napa Institute, including John Gehring’s commentary, two things immediately strike me.
First, I don’t remember a single article I read in which institute workers quote the words of Jesus. They are more likely to praise Donald Trump as “pro-life” and denounce “pro-Marxist” President Joe Biden than they are to invoke Jesus and his words of healing and love. Jesus seems to have been eliminated because his words did not fit their agenda.
Another thing that strikes me is that these people have all the money, power and influence that one can hope for. And yet, they rail against those (Black Lives Matter, LGBTQ community) who only want their fair share of justice in this country. So much anger and so little compassion. And so many moans!
I would like to suggest that the Napa Institute invite the Pope to their 2022 rally. I’m not sure he smokes cigars, but I’m sure he takes a sip of wine every now and then.
Winter Haven, Florida
Napa Institute co-founder Timothy Busch doesn’t speak for all Catholics. This new “voice of the church” uses the Napa Institute to spread its “prosperity gospel”. He prides himself on being a tax lawyer specializing in “protecting the assets of the rich” and offering them the comfort of his many luxury resorts managed by his firm. In the meantime, he has said he does not believe in minimum wage. Busch glorifies an extreme form of capitalism that has no compassion for the poor while courting the Koch Foundation for its substantial donations to its business school and plans for expansion
Each year, the Napa Institute summer conference, hosted by Busch, repeatedly fails to address the issues facing the country. Particularly offensive was this year’s lack of concern for the adverse effects of COVID-19. Busch’s “searing resentment towards racial justice activists” was a further insult to our church and the black community. Compare that to the pride we felt when Georgetown University students voted to grant reparations to the descendants of slaves owned by the university.
The Napa Institute does not represent the church that I know of. How can we prevent wealthy businessmen from withdrawing the teachings of Jesus from Catholicism? Why are these businessmen now running our church? No amount of money should give them the right to determine the future of the Church or “to influence priestly formation”. If this trend continues, we will no longer be a church of Jesus – one that serves the poor and loves their neighbor.
Cash, strictly cash. When I was a student at Stone Hill College and briefly applied for the Congregation of the Holy Cross, some of us had an expression for our nationals. “CSC” which we used to say meant “cash, strictly cash”.
Maybe that’s how I felt when I read that the University of Notre Dame decided to start hosting the Napa Institute conferences. A group of wine tasters sat around sipping wine and making fun of the Black Lives Matter movement. Truly?
I thought Notre-Dame was the land of justice and peace, of teaching the social gospels of the church. What happened to Sainte-Croix Fr. John Jenkins? First, he goes to the White House, doesn’t wear a mask during the height of the pandemic, and now invites Eucharistic gunsmiths and mockery from Black Lives Matter.
What message does he want to send to potential students of color who wish to enroll in this beautiful institution? And where is the Congregation of the Holy Cross? Is it what they want or is it cash, strictly cash?
Fall River, Massachusetts
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