Peter Cavanaugh


Father Simon Le Moyne was a Jesuit missionary to The New World, a vocation that saw many of his fellow priests conclude their careers in an untimely manner at the wrong end of an Iroquois tomahawk.

Father Le Moyne fared much better. He was particularly held in high regard at the Salt Springs of the Onondaga nation, arriving there on Aug. 5, 1654. On Oct. 21, 1945, it was announced that a new Jesuit college would be named in Father Le Moyne’s honor on a hill in Syracuse near the site of his efforts.

I had the honor of graduating from this institution in May of 1963 and have mentioned it from time to time in these columns, particularly since Pope Francis became the first Jesuit ever elevated to such prominence in the history of the Roman Catholic Church.

I predicted Francis wouldn’t fool around. He hasn’t. And neither have more than 600 current students and faculty members at my alma mater, including the majority of the graduating class. Last week, they even made FOX News. They wanted a Cardinal canned from commencement.

Pope Benedict XVI named Timothy Dolan Archbishop of New York on Feb. 23, 2009, then to the College of Cardinals in January of 2012, a year before Benedict’s curious early retirement and succession by Francis.

Cardinal Dolan is generally regarded as a gifted and entertaining orator, although not “the head of the Catholic Church in America” as glibly reported by the typically clueless Steve Doocy on “Fox and Friends.” Looking for a bit of hierarchical star power at this year’s commencement ceremonies, Le Moyne was successful in scheduling the cardinal, although keenly aware that Dolan holds traditional, conservative viewpoints on most major Catholic issues.

Certain rigid perspectives have become sharply controversial in contemporary society. Jesuits like to stir things up. In this light, the invitation for Dolan’s appearance before the 2015 graduating class of Millennials worked like a charm.

A petition demanding cancellation of the cardinal alleged, “Over the years, Cardinal Dolan has been involved with sexual abuse scandals dealing with the clergy, homophobic comments and does not represent the ideals we have come to know at Le Moyne.”

The school firmly stood by its decision. Le Moyne College President Linda LeMura even says the controversy makes her proud.

“In reality I see it as a great call for celebration,” she said. “Our students are questioning decisions we’ve made. They want to understand the rationale at a deeper level. I think Cardinal Dolan will take some joy in the fact that our students are well educated and want more questions answered. It’s a sign of engagement.”

How’s that for spin?

And how cool it was for the Jesuits to appoint Dr. LeMura as president a year ago, making her the first non-ecclesiastical female to lead a Jesuit college or university in the world. Hopefully I am not expressing undue optimism in suggesting this might well be a harbinger of similar positive changes within the church in days ahead.

Let’s face it, guys. Sometimes these ladies can make us look pretty stupid. Look what Laura Ingraham just did to our very own Fourth District Congressional Representative.

Ingraham, regarded as a trusted conservative talk show host, was interviewing Rep. Tom McClintock.

She exclaimed with disappointment, “Oh my God. The idea that you, Tom McClintock, with all of your brainpower on immigration, don’t see the writing on the wall… I’m flabbergasted… Once you pass TPA, the fix is in.”

Laura later told her listeners, “Despite having been the man selected to deliver the GOP’s pitch to the nation on Obama’s massive global trade and labor pact, Rep. McClintock admitted today he’d never read it.”

Then we have Sen. Elizabeth Warren scoring a major, unanticipated win over President Barack Obama in “fast track” voting, forcing various changes and adjusted provisions in language before initial Senate passage.

And a 19-year-old female college student, Ivy Ziedrich, flummoxed Jeb Bush on the campaign trail by insisting his brother George had “created ISIS,” explaining why she felt so in amazing detail.

The unexpected has become the unavoidable.

Perhaps none too soon.

“Ch-ch-ch-ch-changes ... Turn and face the strange ... Ch-ch-changes ... Just gonna have to be a different man ... Time may change me But I can't trace time”

“Changes” - David Bowie - from “Hunky Dory” (1971).