STEUBENVILLE, OH—Calling on all new students at Franciscan University of Steubenville to be ready to engage in the culture wars, Bishop Gilbert I. Sheldon, bishop emeritus of the Diocese of Steubenville, framed his August 24 homily for the New Student Orientation Mass around the “battle for religious freedom.”
Addressing nearly 700 incoming students and their family members, Bishop Sheldon said, “A call to arms has been issued on behalf of believers by the Catholic bishops of the United States. Our antagonists are the liberal secularists—in government and elsewhere—who would erode away religious freedom” by forcing Catholics to approve of health care services that violate their religious or moral convictions.
He urged the students to learn more about these threats to religious freedoms from their Franciscan University professors, from the treasury of Church writings, and other sources. He said the Year of Faith will provide much needed prayer support while the Catholic Catechism “is an ideal tool for presenting the Catholic position.”
During the Mass, Bishop Sheldon administered the Oath of Fidelity to seven faculty and staff members who pledged “to accept all that the Pope teaches and Bishops in union with him, even when pronounced in a way that is not definitive.”
Taking the oath were: Dr. Jonathan Sanford (in his new role as assistant to the Vice President of Academic Affairs); Father David Vogel ’94, associate director, Priestly Discernment Program; Father Shawn Roberson, TOR, assistant to the chaplain; Father David Bonarrigo, TOR, Spanish; Father Bob Anello, director, Priestly Discernment Program; Sister Joan Paule Portenlanger, TOR, ’90, Pastoral Assistant for Evangelization; and Rhett Young ’94, director, Missionary Outreach.
In the spring of 1989, Franciscan University of Steubenville became the first U.S. Catholic college or university to fulfill a directive issued earlier that year by the Sacred Congregation for the Doctrine of the Faith, requiring those directly connected with teaching Catholic doctrine on faith and morals to profess their adherence to the teaching authority of the Church.
That year, all theology faculty and priests publicly took the Oath of Fidelity. Each year since, all new theology faculty and other appropriate personnel, publicly take the Oath of Fidelity and make a Profession of Faith.