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Gay Friendly - What's with USD'S Theology Department?
San Diego News Notes ^ | Jim Holman
Posted on Thursday, November 13, 2003 9:32:46 AM by NYer
While proclaiming itself Catholic, can the University of San Diego claim that its department of theology and religious studies honors the Catholic intellectual tradition? Who are the people at the center of University of San Diego's Catholic identity?
The chairman of USD's theology department, Joseph Colombo, 49, got his Ph.D. from the University of Chicago. Among the courses he teaches are Belief & Unbelief, The Reformation Era, Fundamental Theology, The Problem of God, and The Problem of Evil. It was first reported that he would be appointed chairman in November, 1997 in San Diego's Gay and Lesbian Times.
A professor at USD since 1984, Colombo's coming-out took place when he spoke in April, 1994 at a conference titled Living with Dignity/Dying with Dignity: Gays and Lesbians in San Diego Speak about Their Community. Colombo affirmed that he "would choose to be gay again."
In 1999 the Vatican issued Ex Corde Ecclesiæ, which required that Catholic theologians seek a approval from the local bishop that the theologian is teaching in communion with the church. When this reporter asked Colombo whether he would be willing to take an oath of fidelity to Catholic Church teaching, Colombo refused to answer, complaining that the question was "premature".
Colombo was less reserved in sharing his opinions about Ex Corde Ecclesiæ with other faculty. Colombo wrote a paper defending dissident theologian Fr. Richard McBrien's refusal to seek a mandatum. In an early draft of On the Mandatum and On Making a Theological Argument, Colombo wrote, "...the introduction of Church authority as an external, non-academic agent into the affairs of the individual institution of higher education compromises academic freedom and institutional autonomy."
Colombo lives in a house that belonged to another USD faculty member, Nicolas Reveles. Formerly a priest, Reveles left USD and the priesthood shortly after Bishop Brom's arrival to San Diego and is now employed by the San Diego Opera. Reveles owned a house at 1841 Crenshaw Street in City Heights. A records search found that Reveles sold the house to Colombo in February 1996 for $130,000, when Reveles and his companion, John Satallante, moved to Bonita.
Orlando Espin, 56, would, under normal circumstances, be known as Father Espin, as he is a priest from the diocese of Venice, Florida. Espin earned doctorates in philosophy and theology from the Pontifical Catholic University of Rio de Janeiro. He teaches Catholic Theology, Afro-Latin Religions, Latino Catholicism, Christian Understanding of Salvation, Latino Theologies, and two graduate courses in Latino Catholicism and Latino Marian Devotions. He is director of USD's Center for the Study of Latino Catholicism.
Espin's priestly status raises questions, as he is known to wear a wedding ring and inform his students that he is "married." While there are no traceable marriage records for Espin, a records search found that he shares his current house in La Mesa and shared his previous residence, a Hillcrest apartment, with the same man, Joel Gallego, 37.
Bienestar, a Latino Lesbian, Gay, Bisexual and Transgendered organization, located in North Park, has been a beneficiary of Espin's talents. Lenette Morales, an administrative assistant with Bienestar confirmed that Espin was involved in their activities. "I know who he is. He comes here a lot and he volunteers with us."
Espin's sister, Oliva Espin, is professor emeritus in the Women's Studies department at San Diego State University. Ms. Espin was listed as a member of the board of directors in 2001 for the Gay and Lesbian Center and spoke at the October 2002 Dignity USA regional conference in San Diego.
Maria Pilar Aquino earned her degree at the Pontifical University of Salamanca. She teaches Foundations in Catholic Theology, Christian Social Ethics, Catholic Social Thought, Liberation Theology, and Feminist Theologies of Liberation. She has written two books, including Our Cry For Life: Feminist Theology from Latin America. USD's faculty website mentions Aquino's work in "research and publication in the areas of theological method, feminist intercultural theologies, women and migration, and the function of the churches in the context of neocapitalist globalization."
In November, 1999 Aquino was a panelist at a Call to Action in Milwaukee where she and two other feminist theologians discussed theology and its necessary growth from women's struggles.
Evelyn Kirkley has distinguished herself by doing more to promote homosexuality than any other faculty member at USD. Kirkley got her Ph.D. from Duke University and is the author of Rational Mothers and Infidel Gentlemen: Gender and American Atheism. She specializes in the religious history of the United States from the pre-colonial period to the present, concentrating on the late nineteenth century and issues of race, class, gender and sexuality in non-mainstream religious groups. Among the classes she teaches are Christianity and Its Practice, Gender and Religion in the United States, Topics in Theological and Religious Studies, Introduction to Gender Studies, Advanced Gender Studies and Sects and Cults in the U.S.
In February 2001, while guest lecturing on cults at OASIS, a lecture series for senior citizens, Kirkley described the Catholic Church of the Middle Ages as fitting the criteria of a cult.
Kirkley has been listed as a donor to the San Diego Gay and Lesbian Center and, during the 1999-2000 school year, helped a USD student apply for a $10,000 grant to implement the Rainbow Visibility program -- designed to create and raise awareness of gays as a "distinct culture" and address the "noticeable exclusion" of gays and lesbians on campus. Kirkley is also listed as a Rainbow Educator for the year 2003 at the United Front (a USD student organization dedicated to Unity Within Diversity) website.
Like Dr. Espin, Kirkley is known in the community and speaks off campus. Besides her lecture to OASIS, On August 10, 2003 she spoke at the San Diego public library's Outfest screening of Family Fundamental, moderating a discussion after the film was shown. Kirkley has also lectured as a guest on gender issues at the University of Texas.
Kirkley is the faculty advisor for USD Pride, an on-campus support group that promotes the concept of victimhood and reinforces homosexual identity. I attempted to attend a Pride meeting in 1999 and was told to leave by Dr. Kirkley when she recognized me. On November 14, 2001 News Notes reporter Allyson Smith attended a gay parenting panel hosted by USD Pride and was shown the door by an armed security guard when she dared to challenge the panel.
Father Dennis W. Krouse earned his S.T.D. from the Pontifical Liturgical Institute, Athanaeum of St. Anselm. He teaches Foundations of Catholic Theology, Christian Worship, Christian Sacramental Practice and Christian Marriage. USD's faculty website says that he specializes in liturgical studies which include liturgical and sacramental theology and history, pastoral liturgy and liturgical art and architecture. In 1997, an online petition was circulated in support of American Airlines' recent move to supply its employees with domestic partners benefits that recognized homosexual relationships. The petition was a reaction to an eruption of criticism from the Christian Right against American Airlines and other Fortune 500 companies that were offering similar benefits. The petition was signed by a "Dr. Dennis W. Krouse, San Diego." Was this Father Krouse? I attempted to ask him, but he did not return my phone calls.
If the signer of the petition was indeed Fr. Krouse, he would not be the only ordained member of the Department of Theology and Religious Studies who hides his priestly identity. Besides Father Espin, Father Ronald Pachence is simply listed as Ronald A. Pachence, Ph.D., with no mention that he is a priest.
Father Pachence's Ph.D. is from the Catholic University of America. He teaches Introduction to World Religions, Christian Understanding of the Human Persons, and graduate courses in Christology and Christian Anthropology. His specialty is practical theology, systematics, and historical religious studies that focus on Islam. He has produced videos for the Bay Area's Catholic Television Network.
Father Norbert Rigali. S.J. (brother of St. Louis Archbishop Justin Rigali, newly designated as a Cardinal and assigned to Philadelphia) is identified as a priest and is shown on a web page for a April, 1999 forum discussing Just War Theory: Bombs in the Balkans. Ironically, he is shown the photo wearing lay clothing. Father Rigali is professor emeritus but is listed as teaching Nature of Religion, Belief, and Unbelief, and Foundations of Christian Ethics.
Karma Lekshe Tsomo is a Buddhist nun who earned her Ph.D. at the University of Hawaii. She teaches World Religions and Buddhist Faith and Practice. In the Fall 1998 edition of Feminism and Nonviolence Studies, Tsomo published, "Prolife, Prochoice: Buddhism and Reproductive Ethics," where she wrote, "The Buddhist texts make no case for the legal rights of a fetus, nor do they mention abortion in circumstances of rape, incest, severe deformity, or cases of mental, physical, or emotional abuse.... In the end, most Buddhists recognize the incongruity that exists between ethical theory and actual practice and, while they do not condone the taking of life, do advocate understanding and compassion toward all living beings, a loving kindness that is nonjudgmental and respects the right and freedom of human beings to make their own choices."
Other theology department members:
-- Helen De Laurentis has a Ph.D. from the Catholic University of America. She teaches Christianity and Its Practices and Belief and Unbelief.
-- Kathleen Dugan took her Ph.D. at Fordham University. Dugan's expertise is in the "interface of Christianity and other religions." Her courses include The Nature of Religion, Native American Religious Traditions, Jesus in the Christian Tradition, The Problem of God, The Holocaust: Death of God or Death of Humanity? and a graduate course, Themes in Western Spirituality.
-- Russell Fuller has a Ph.D. from Harvard University. A specialist in the Old Testament, Fuller teaches Introduction to Biblical Studies, The Pentateuch: Jewish and Christian Roots, The Prophetic Tradition of Israel, The World of the Bible, and graduate courses on the Hebrew scriptures.
-- Florence Morgan Gillman has a Ph.D. and S.T.D. from the Catholic University of Louvain. Specializing in New Testament Interpretations of early Church history, Gillman teaches Introduction to Biblical Studies, Matthew and Mark, The Writings of Luke, Pauline Theology, Johannine Theology, The World of the Bible, and graduate courses in New Testament and Biblical studies.
-- Elaine Catherine McMillan took her Ph.D, from University of St. Michael's College. She teaches Foundations of Catholic Theology and Theology of the Church.
-- Gary Macy earned his Ph.D. at the University of Cambridge. His specialty is the religious history of Christianity from its beginnings to the Reformation. His published works have focused on theology and religion the theology of the Eucharist. He teaches Christianity and Its Practice, Christian Sacramental Practice, Early Christianity, The Medieval Church, The Reformation Era, and graduate courses in Medieval and Reformation Issues in Church History.
-- Lance Nelson has a Ph.D. from McMaster University and specializes in Hinduism and south Asian religious history. He teaches Nature of Religion, World Religions, Hindu Faith and Practice, Asian Spirituality, and Comparative Religious Ethics.
-- Maria Pascuzzi has SSL and S.T.D. degrees from the Pontifical Gregorian University. She teaches Introduction to Biblical Studies, Pauline Theology, and Johannine Theology.
-- Patricia Plovanich earned her Ph.D. at Fordham University. She teaches Foundations of Catholic Theology and The Problem of God.