Brett Kavanaugh and toxic masculinity: lessons from another all-male Jesuit high school

In this Sept. 6, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)In this Sept. 6, 2018, file photo, President Donald Trump's Supreme Court nominee, Brett Kavanaugh testifies before the Senate Judiciary Committee on Capitol Hill in Washington. (AP Photo/Alex Brandon, File)

For those of us who lead or are associated with all-male Jesuit secondary schools in the United States, the saga of Brett Kavanaugh has been a roller coaster ride. His nomination to the Supreme Court was a high point; Judge Kavanaugh was expected to join Neil Gorsuch as one of two justices who graduated from the same all-male Jesuit high school, Georgetown Preparatory School in North Bethesda, Md.

“The motto of my Jesuit high school was ‘men for others,’” Mr. Kavanaugh said when his nomination was announced on July 9. “I have tried to live that creed.”

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From that high, we have descended considerably, as Judge Kavanaugh now stands accused of sexual assault by Christine Blasey Ford. That this alleged crime took place while he was a student at a Jesuit high school makes us uncomfortable if not embarrassed and horrified. Understandably, questions remain about the allegation, which Mr. Kavanaugh has denied. Yet our feelings about the nomination and our perspective about it can’t help but change in light of these revelations.

I have been privileged to witness the mission of all-male Jesuit education as a powerful and transforming force.

I am the president of Fordham Prep, a 177-year-old all-male Jesuit secondary school in the Bronx, N.Y., with nearly 1,000 current students and almost 12,000 living alumni. I have seen our students and graduates at their best and, unfortunately, at their worst. Still, I have been privileged to witness the mission of all-male Jesuit education—to develop men for others, who dedicate their lives to God’s greater glory—as a powerful and transforming force. I believe this force can challenge the prevailing cultural forces that pressure young men to adopt values that reflect a vastly different posture toward the more vulnerable members of our society and those who are different than themselves.

Each spring, members of our freshman class participate in a retreat, the final step in their formal initiation as Fordham Prep students. On the last night of the retreat, I celebrate a Mass that begins at 9 p.m. and usually does not end until after 10:30 p.m. It is such a long celebration because at the time of the homily I invite members of the class to come forward and share with everyone—approximately 250 of their classmates, faculty mentors and upper-class retreat leaders—a memory, image, relationship or story in which they find God’s presence. This invitation is at the heart of Ignatian spirituality, which teaches us to seek and find God in all things.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the term “toxic masculinity” has entered the popular lexicon.

For our freshmen, this is frequently an exhilarating concept. Up to this point in their lives, they may have experienced their faith as confined to formal prayers or within a church building, a religion class or some other explicitly religious ritual. The insight that God draws near to them in their ordinary experience—that God’s grace is as close to them as their parents’ love, their friends’ acceptance, their growing confidence in learning a new skill or discovering a new talent—is attractive, even as it may be new and exotic.

During the time allotted for the homily, I listen. I listen as the freshmen come up, one by one, and speak briefly about encountering God’s presence. In some cases, they tell their stories with tentative trepidation and vulnerability. They are frequently humorous and self-deprecating. Most often, they are eloquent, inspiring and moving as they talk to their classmates about finding God in the close bonds of family upon the death of a relative; or in the gratitude and love they have for their mothers or fathers; in the joy of a sibling returning home after military service; in the courage of a parent who left her home country to immigrate to the United States; in their triumph in overcoming a personal challenge; in their wonder in finding God in sickness or healing or in an encounter with the beauty of nature.

God’s Spirit helps our students see and know the dignity that resides within each person.

In the wake of the #MeToo movement, the term “toxic masculinity” has entered the popular lexicon. Toxic masculinity, we are told, springs from a society that inculcates young men with a “bro mentality,” leaving them devoid of empathy, sensitivity and compassion and leading them—especially when they are together—to objectify and disrespect girls and women. Some have seen—rightly or wrongly—traces of this toxic mentality in Judge Kavanaugh’s quip in a 2015 speech that “What happens at Georgetown Prep stays at Georgetown Prep. That’s been a good thing for all of us, I think.”

I leave to the experts whether toxic masculinity or a “bro culture” is pervasive and at the root cause of young men’s disregard for the dignity of others. But I can tell you that the freshman retreat experience gives our students a powerful opportunity to experience and model virtues and values directly opposed to this phenomenon. As they listen to each other, I believe they grow in their capacity to enter into another’s pain and joy. In taking the risk to share their stories, they articulate their deepest emotions and identify their most cherished values. God’s Spirit truly animates the whole church. And, I believe, God’s Spirit helps our students see and know the dignity that resides within each person. What a powerful way to inoculate young men against the poison of toxic masculinity.

What happens at the freshman retreat, does not stay at freshman retreat. Our students’ vulnerability and openness to others with backgrounds and experiences vastly different from their own is something we administrators and teachers see every day in the classroom. And what happens during their four years at Fordham Prep, should not stay at Fordham Prep. That, in fact, is the whole point.

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Michael Barberi
1 year ago

There are a lot of things discussed in these blogs that must be questioned apart from "the lack of evidence and corroborating witnesses" or the question about whether Jesuit High Schools do a good job of turning out morally sound men, or whether a Jesuit HS student can do something like the allegation Dr. Ford accuses Kavanaugh of committing.

1. Why did Senator Feinstein keep Dr. Ford's letter secret for 6-7 weeks and withhold this letter and 'this issue' from the Chairman of the Senate Judiciary Committee until the very last minute?

> Feinstein says she wanted to honor Dr. Ford's request that her name be anonymous. Non-sense! Feinstein could have discussed the allegation in this letter with Senator Grassley when the Committee was still in session and Kavaneuh was meeting privately with many Senators, in particular Feinstein. This issue could also have been handled in a 'confidential session' without disclosing the name of the accuser.
The timing of this sticks of a partisan strategy to delay the confirmation until after the November election. Withholding the letter and the allegation until a few days before a 'vote' was scheduled on Kavanaugh is not only irresponsible but another way Democrats can turn this confirmation process into a political circus.

2. Who and why did 'someone' leak this letter to the press? It certainly was not a Republican. Why did Dr. Ford suddenly change her mind about keeping her name secret and agree to testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee "under oath"? Why did she then reverse her decision two days later and insist that she will only testify "after" the FBI investigates her allegations? I think she knew she had no evidence or corroborating witnesses and under questioning it would be obvious her claims were at best unreliable..

3. What possible new information will we know after the FBI interviews Dr. Ford, Kavanaugh and the two witnesses Ford named in her letter? We already know what each of them have said. If Ford's allegations are found unreliable, will Democrats vote for Kavanaugh? NO they will not!! We already know they will not. Dr. Ford said that there was two witnesses. Ok, does anyone think that there were other witnesses? Even if the FBI tracks down a few HS friends and they say that they recall some talk of this incident, this is nothing than "hear-say". Let's be honest, we all know that Democrats will jump to the conclusion (over anything they can spin) and shout "this proves Dr. Ford is telling the truth".

Here is what will happen if Dr. Ford does not testify in front of the Senate Judiciary Committee: Kavanaugh will be confirmed and this issue will be old news in 2 weeks.

J Jones
1 year ago

Michael, you ask what difference an investigation (vs a congressional hearing) would make? Can't you just hear all the supporters of priest-predators saying "what difference would make? Father says he didn't; s/he says he did; that is the same outcome the police will get."

There's an old saw about a proper forensic investigation being a proper forensic investigation. You know, that part that comes before the trial and the jury, which is what a congressional hearing amoubts to (very very loosely). You know, that part where interviews are conducted, at most, with a pair of investigators who aren't performing for votes; where there is a recorder and maybe a video but not hoards of TV and still cameras; where arrival and departure of interviewees are not the biggest doings in the country. You know, that old saw. A proper forensic investigation is a proper forensic investigation. You know, all that legal stuff as opposed to all the political TV ad stuff on BOTH sides.

I agree. Kavanaugh will likely be confirmed anyway and we will never know what is true. Because it doesn't matter to too many people; because too many of you here are apparently unwilling to generalize the lessons of the RCC crisis; because are still willing to stand on our heads to get into power the people we want in power.

Michael Barberi
1 year ago

J Brookbank,

Let me be clear, if I have not been. I have no problem if the Senate Judiciary Committee choses or not to ask the FBI to investigate Dr. Ford's allegations. Based on the evidence we know and the fact that two witnesses she named have denied they were at this so-called party and that they never saw Kavanaugh do what Dr. Ford accuses him doing 'at any time they knew him', tells me that this investigation will conclude in a "she said, he said dilemma". In other words, I believe that we will never know the truth.

This issue has turned into a purely political and partisan issue. Note that all the Democrats have said "they believe Dr. Ford". I ask: Is this guilty by accusation or is it guilty by being a conservative?

J Jones
1 year ago

Michael, again a proper investigation is a proper investigation. Have you people not ever --- and perhaps very recently --- seen public denials evaporate when proper investigations are conducted? It is genuinely surprising to me to learn how many Americans think thst comments reporters and political allies are a good substitute for responses in a proper investigation. What gives with that?

Michael Barberi
1 year ago

J Brookbank,
The Senate Judiciary Committee confirmation hearings should hear the accuser and the accused. This is not a "criminal trial", it is a political process to confirm or not a candidate for Justice of the Supreme Court.

Let me be as clear as possible. The FBI can and does investigate a crime if the accusation and evidence is credible. So far, there is no evidence, no date, time and place, no memory of who were at the party other than the accused and two witnesses, and no memory of who she went to the party with or how she got home. More importantly, the two eye witnesses named by Professor Ford have given depositions to the Senate Judiciary Committee denying they were at a so-called party and at no time have they ever saw Kavanaugh commit the acts Prof. Ford has accused Kavanaugh of.

Let's recognize that the Senate Judiciary Committee has given Prof. Ford every opportunity to testify and tell her story. If Prof. Ford does not testify, then the Senate Judiciary Committee will move to a vote.

This entire issue is being politicized to the nth degree. Every Democrat says they believe Prof. Ford...every one of them. I sympathize with Prof. Ford, but Senator Feinstein played politics by withholding the Ford's letter from Senator Grassley for 6-7 weeks and only disclosed a redacted version until after the committee ended it deliberations. She has not given the members of the Judiciary committee the un-redacted letter even after Grassley asked for it. This is a blatant attempt to delay the vote to after the November elections. The Democrats and Feinstein's tactics are not a responsible, prudent and honest search for the truth. Lastly, Prof. Ford is playing games with the Senate Judiciary Committee by demanding Kavanaugh give his testimony first. This is ridiculous. The accused cannot defend himself if he does not know what he is being accused of. That is the reason that every court trail in the U.S. requires the accuser to go first and lay out their case.

I think we have to end our comment exchanges for now.

J Jones
1 year ago

Michael, this all mirrors the kinds of responses people used to give when allegations were made against Catholic priests: all the reasons why it couldn't just be what it was: an allegation of sexual abuse made against a public figure in a position of great importance in an institution of great importance so the context took on more importance than the alleged victim in the eyes of almost everyone except for the alleged victim and his/her family.

Michael Barberi
1 year ago

J Brookbank,
The victims here are both Kavanagh and Prof. Ford. As I said, I sympathize with Prof. Ford. She seems to believe, and it may be true, that someone sexually assaulted her in HS. However, she might have been mistaken about who did this to her 36 years ago. She has no evidence whatsoever and the witnesses she named both contradict her allegations. The press and media, and Democrats are siding with Prof. Ford. However, Kavanaugh who denied these allegations is a victim here as well. He deserves to be listened to and presumed innocent until proven guilty.

Unless there is a smoking gun and Prof. Ford gives a compelling and convincing testimony under oath and under cross examination, this entire issue will be a matter of "she said and he said". Even if a formal "criminal" investigation happens to emerge, Prof. Ford must produce creditable evidence and corroboration witnesses. I believe this entire issue has turned extremely partisan.

We will have to wait and see what happens.

J Jones
1 year ago

Michael, I generally find you to be a credible thinker here, even when I disagree with you.

It is an absurdity to insert yourself into this story and assert that this may be a case of mistaken identity. Your comments continue to mirror the response directed at persons who alleged abuse by Catholic priests.

There was so much resistance to the ***possibility* the allegations could be true that Catholics in every corner were unable to remain neutral; unable to restrain themselves from asserting alternative theories and motives; unable to stop saying "Asked and answered! Padre he says he didnt do it"; unable to tolerate saying "Gosh I hope it is not true because I respect him but we need to support the process most likely to get at the truth for the benefit of ALL of us, painful as the waiting and not knowing is".

I don't understand why you are unable to leave this at the facts:
- A woman has accused a man of sexually assulting her.
- He claims he didn't do it.
- Potential witnesses who are his friends and political allies are running for the hills, saying "uh uh".
- Potential witnesses who are her family, friends and therapist are saying she told us about this in the past.

That is the reality of almost ALL sexual assault claims before law enforcement investigations begin. That is often all there was and is in the Clerical sex abuse cases.

Sometimes the investigation reveals a crime; sometimes it doesn't.

So why all this armchair speculation? Why all this insistence that you guys are so sure what did NOT happen that you are concocting alternative theories about political hit jobs and mistaken identity?

Why not say "I have to admit I sincerely hope it is not true because (fill in the blank)" and then let the appropriate process play out?

Michael Barberi
1 year ago

J Brookbank,

Kavanaugh may be telling the truth or lying. Prof. Ford may be telling the truth or lying....and she might be telling the truth but is mistaken about the identity of the person who sexually assaulted her.

A person is presumed innocent until proven guilty....beyond a reasonable doubt. However, the Senate Judicial Committee is not a criminal court. These confirmation hearings are a political process but this principle about presumed innocence still holds. The problem is that this entire tissue is highly partisan and people are jumping to conclusions before all the evidence is presented and testimony has been heard. In this case, I don't believe we will know the truth unless there is explosive credible evidence that Kavanaugh committed this crime at age 17.

As I understand it, Prof. Ford did not tell friends and family about what happened until 2012....20 years later. Just because a woman claims she was raped and sexually abused, as in the Duke University case, and the press, media and other groups believed the woman, does not make an allegation truthful. In the Duke University case which because a national event, it was eventually uncovered that the woman lied to authorities.

Let's get real here. it is the extreme partisan rhetoric that is poisoning a fair and reasoned committee deliberation.

I pray that the truth becomes clear and an unbiased decision is reached. If Prof. Ford's allegations are credible, then Kavanaugh should not be confirmed. If not, he should be confirmed. If it becomes an issue of she said, he said, then a majority vote will confirm or deny confirmation.

Lastly, of course we need to let things play out. I never said we should jump to conclusions and rush a vote before allowing Prof. Ford and Kavanaugh to testify.

This is my last comment.

J Jones
1 year ago

We only began to get time the bottom of the clerical sex abuse problem when we began to presume the innocence of the accusers ---- and their right to speak out regardless of context or timing or any other factor --- as passionately as we presumed the innocence of the accused.

Tricia Kessie
1 year ago

Pay attention! Dr. Ford asked Senator Feinstein to keep it secret.

Michael Barberi
1 year ago

Dr. Ford only asked Senator Feinstein to keep her name secret, not the allegation. Yes, and by a miracle it was leaked to the press.

Boreta Singleton
1 year ago

As someone who has ministered in Jesuit education for many years (in both a co-ed and an all male school), I know that teachers encourage reflection in class, and Jesuit schools pray the Examen. The Examen by nature is a self-reflective prayer; it is an opportunity to look at one's day and see where God has been --in both the wonderful and the challenging moments. Many students, both as the school year progresses and as young alumni return tell me how they appreciate the opportunity to stop and think about their schoolwork, relationships and personal development. I believe these elements encourage young men to be reflective like the freshman that the author describes. This is certainly not a "solution," but it is a process and a way of looking at one's life honestly before God.

Joseph J Dunn
1 year ago

Father Devron clearly presents the motive of his article: “That this alleged crime took place while he was a student at a Jesuit high school makes us uncomfortable if not embarrassed and horrified. Understandably, questions remain about the allegation, which Mr. Kavanaugh has denied. Yet our feelings about the nomination and our perspective about it can’t help but change in light of these revelations.” Most of us find any allegation of such misconduct disturbing and concerning—no matter who the parties are and whether we believe them or not, and regardless of our political inclinations. Father Devron has also rightly named this an allegation. The article provides no formula for resolving this allegation, as that is not his focus in the article. Nothing has been prejudged.

I read the article as describing the goals and methods of Jesuit high school education. A freshman retreat is one activity, part of a four-year process that, if successful, produces a thoughtful, empathetic, studious high school graduate. The author does not claim the methods, or the products, to be perfect: “I have seen our students and graduates at their best and, unfortunately, at their worst.”

Some comments under the article describe Georgetown Prep, and other Jesuit high schools, as “privileged, gender bias schools.” Many parents choose a single-sex school for their son and daughter. Others prefer co-ed schools. I know of no literature asserting that one or the other is the universally correct choice. As to privilege, I see on Georgetown Prep’s website that 26% of families receive financial aid, ranging from $5,000 to $35,000, average $19,000. Full day-school tuition is $37, 215 so some students are apparently getting virtually full scholarships—hardly a way to promote privilege. In some Jesuit Preps, one hears the expression “sons of surgeons study next to sons of plumbers.” Many years ago, as the son of a bricklayer, I studied next to the son of a surgeon, and sons of other professionals, at St. Joseph’s Prep in Philadelphia. My family could never have afforded full tuition, especially with my three siblings coming up behind me. I’m grateful for the opportunity I had, and the financial aid—probably the generosity of some alumni—that made it possible.

Finally, regarding “What happens here [fill in whatever place you want], stays at [again, fill in the blank].” We have a sign with that expression in our living room, purchased at a gift shop. Our three-year-old granddaughter giggles when she sees it, because her mother once explained it to her as meaning, “at Nanny’s house, there are no rules.” On this particular pronouncement by Kavanaugh, Lighten up, folks.

J Jones
1 year ago

Joseph, I think your granddaughter's giggles nailed it: even a 3 year d knows --- and remembers and is delighted by --- what "no rules here" means. Your story just proved Fr Devron's point. People start learning this lesson in diapers if we teach it to them.

Adeolu Ademoyo
1 year ago

This is a letter to America Magazine and to Fr. Christopher J Devron. I live here in the United States of America. I am a Catholic. My family are paid subscribers to the America Magazine. We receive the print edition of the America Magazine by post-in the mail. I also subscribed to the magazine for a friend in my city in New York. I made a post on this subject and on this platform yesterday. I still saw the post on this platform this morning at about 11am Eastern Time. I came back this evening, to read America Magazine. I discovered that my post has been deleted. In the name of free speech and our faith -the Catholic Faith, I will like Fr. Christopher J Devron and the America Magazine to please investigate and let me know what went wrong. Did someone else delete my post? If so America Magazine editors should please find out. Second, did the editors of America Magazine delete my post? If so-why? I will wait for a response and I will continue to ask if I do not get a response.
Thanks.
Adeolu Ademoyo.

Joseph J Dunn
1 year ago

Mr. Ademoyo--Don't feel bad. My post, above, had been posted earlier, then disappeared. So, I simply reposted it. I don't read anything nefarious into this, just software in need of an exorcism. Peace.

Adeolu Ademoyo
1 year ago

I write this as a Catholic father, son, and husband. My family is Catholic. I have daughters, and sons. We all serve Christ and His Church faithfully with the gifts God has given us in our parish. All my children serve Christ at His altar as altar servers. My wife and I have discussed this allegation of sexual assault by Dr. Christine Blasey Ford against Mr. Brett Kavanaugh. We have discussed this allegation as a family with our children. All our children went to Catholic schools like Mr. Brett Kavanaugh. As we raise our children in the Catholic faith and for society, my wife and I, like many of us Christians and theists, are aware of the patriarchal and masculinist context, culture and environment in which we all as Christians and theists practice our faith. Sadly we are in a society whereby many have ethically tainted political life, public service, leadership in society by electing into public and political offices sexual assaulters, sexists, wife beaters, sexual harassers and abusers, those who have no regard for family values and the marriage institution, those who proudly sleep with porn stars with the justification that these religiously and morally reprehensible behaviors have been “baked into their votes and election.” They forget that our Catholic and Christian children are watching, seeing and reading these things. These voters, who also claim to be Christians, with their eyes wide open vote for sexual abusers, vote for those who do not have single respect for the Church, for church teachings, who do not have respect for the marriage institution and for family values.

Seeing the ethical, moral and political implications of their votes, these voters defensively claim that they did not vote for the religious, for priests, for nuns, for deacons, for Popes when they voted. In their morally flawed and self serving argument, these voters claim that the despicable, morally and ethically offensive behavior of the people they have voted for have been “baked into their votes and the election”-(these are their words and phrase). With their choices, and their argument, these people have morally and ethically tainted political office, political life, public life, leadership and service in the country forever, and this is the bad outcome.

But the supreme court ought to be different. The supreme court ought not be ethically and morally tainted and challenged the way political life and elected public office have been ethically challenged because there is an intersection among Law, Ethics, Morality and Justice. To let ethically and morally tainted justices to be on the supreme court is to morally and ethically taint the supreme court for a long time to come, it is to ignore the sound and legitimate indivisible intersection among Law, Ethics, Morality and Justice. This is why if all parties have nothing to fear, they Dr. Christine Blasey Ford and Mr. Brett Kavanaugh should submit themselves to a thorough investigation of the Federal Bureau of Investigation-the FBI. Those who appeal to time are being hypocritical. To put it patently, those who say there is no time and that the process of confirming Mr. Brett Kavanaugh should move on without an FBI investigation of the allegation against Mr. Brett Kavanaugh are deliberately ignoring their own recent history about time. This is because President Obama nominated Mr. Merrick Garland to the present supreme court position being occupied by Mr. Neil Gorsuch. But what happened? The republican party led Senate did not even consider Mr. Merrick Garland’s candidacy for a day. The republican party led Senate kept the supreme court position open for more than a year!

Now the same people are talking about time in the case of Mr. Brett Kavanaugh! This should not surprise anyone because this is the same group who in the past used to claim to be alleged guardians of family values but who today now openly elect into public offices sexual abusers, sexual harassers, men who do not have respect for women, men who sleep with porn stars, men who commit adultery and look straight un-apologetically with bravado, with the flawed argument that the religiously, morally and ethically offensive behavior of the people they elect have been "baked into their votes and election." This must not continue.

This is why the allegation against Mr. Brett Kavanaugh must be thoroughly investigated by FBI. That is the right thing to do. This is why we as husbands, sons, fathers, as Christian and Catholic men should not allow what happened at Georgetown Prep to stay at Georgetown Prep. I speak as a Catholic parent-father, son and husband. This will not be a good thing for all of us, I think. To allow this will strongly offend our beautiful Catholic and Christian faith.

Randal Agostini
1 year ago

I have used the same remark on several occasions, in all mix of company, never thinking that my remark had a malicious or immoral content - having never visited Vegas.
I believe that Fr. Christopher should share some of those remarkable God given moments that his students share with their peers. The revelations could help us all.
I always preferred Art Linkletter to Dr. Spock.
Character assassination is one of the most onerous sins, because of the widespread damage it can do, just through insinuation. This sin is never healed unless it is publicly purged by the sinner.
It is wrong what we are doing to Supreme Court nominees. These are people we are supposed to look up to, with respect - how can they ever be viewed with impartiality when they have been dragged through the streets and pilloried in public. The whole exercise should be carried out in private.
This has all been political, nasty and base and who presumes that this would have been the last rabbit to be pulled out of the hate filled hat.
In my case the article does not impugn Kavanaugh. If it were to, it would reflect badly upon The Georgetown Preparatory School, the same way people are casting their votes against all the Bishops of the Catholic Church.

Jorge Rebasa
1 year ago

Fr Devron trashes a Jesuit graduate. This is why I do not contribute to my Jesuit high school alma mater: there is no fidelity. Why should I be loyal to my jesuit high school when they will turn on me for being a graduate of their high school? One would have thought a Jesuit would defend graduates of their schools until given a reason otherwise.

Thank you for your article, Christopher. I will never financially support my Jesuit high school now. See how that works? Talk about toxic.

A Fielder
1 year ago

How exactly does this article "trash" Judge Kavanaugh? I think you may have misinterpreted something. The only entity Fr Devron is defending is the Society of Jesus. Any why should he defend anyone else, who might happen to be accused of sexual assault?

Tricia Kessie
1 year ago

Tricia McTaggart Kessie

Interesting that so many of these comments are from men - some sound rather nervous!

While I am sure that Jesuit undergrads are all saintly young men, I would like to offer another perspective. I attended a Catholic women's college in the late '50's and frequently dated guys (not young men) from nearby Catholic men's colleges - none Jesuit. The view of many of my friends and I was that at least half the guys we dated from these schools would be drunk and overly aggressive. Possibly they just didn't understand their own sexuality or ours, and thought that it was necessary to be 'macho'. After major dances, we girls often met and talked about our encounters, sometimes electing the "Octopus of the Night". Many of us decided to date only non-Catholics or guys from co-ed Catholic schools.
Another interesting facet emerged: many of the girls had graduated from all-girl Catholic high schools and seemed to take this male attitude for granted - not that they liked being mauled, but expected that that was the norm and you had to put up with it if you wanted to marry a Catholic college grad. A smaller bunch of us were graduates of co-ed Catholic high schools and had a very different outlook. We had grown up seeing boys as fellow human beings, not as slicked up guys, driving their dad's car, with money to spend - and wanting something concrete in return for the hamburger and movie.
So I have to wonder - what is it that all-male Catholic schools teach their boys about being men? Why was/is the drive toward the 'toxic masculinity' we see in the Kavanaugh case so prevalent? And why are so many Catholic girls taught - or made to feel - that this is normal behavior and meant to be endured? Of course, this young lady would have kept quiet about what happened to her! To whom would she lodge a complaint?

I also have to wonder at Tim O'Leary, below. The story has obviously hit him on a very sore spot!

Tim O'Leary
1 year ago

No matter what position one is being considered for, one has to be treated as innocent until proven guilty. An accuser who cannot respond to questioning under oath should not be believed. It's so long ago, what Ms. Ford "remembers" could all be explained by mistaken identity. It might not even have anything to do with Georgetown Prep, since no one there remembers the party. Then there is the rank hypocrisy. Who wants to hold every adult hostage to what they did when a teenager. Senator Cory Booker, who sits on the Judiciary Committee, is sponsoring legislation (the REDEEM Act) to incentivize states to establish 18 years old as a floor for original jurisdiction by adult criminal courts by allowing preference to be given to Community Oriented Policing Services (COPS) grant applications that originate from states that have enacted similar or stronger provisions. https://spectator.org/cory-booker-stunner-17-year-olds-too-immature-to-…

J Jones
1 year ago

A worthwhile article to post here at America. https://www.ncronline.org/news/opinion/signs-times/father-brett-kavanaugh-would-be-suspended-and-investigated

Thomas Farrelly
1 year ago

Both the title and the content of this article assume Brett Kavanaugh's guilt, though there is no evidence for it beyond the accusation by a woman whose credibility is not established by any corroborating facts or testimony. Father Devron and the editors of America, all no doubt partisan Democrats, might check the Catechism of the Catholic Church and ponder to what extent they are guilty of the sin of detraction.
As for much of the comment here, it is clear that opinion is clearly divided on partisan lines, or in the case of some women formed by feminism rather than any sense of justice or due process. As for Father Devron, I would hesitate to recommend Fordham Prep to any young man while his corrupt presence remains there.

J Jones
1 year ago

https://www.google.com/amp/s/m.huffpost.com/us/entry/us_5ba53de4e4b0181540dcd3cc/amp

Joseph J Dunn
1 year ago

Getting back to the subject of Father Devron's article, the president of Georgetown Prep (which Judge Kavanaugh attended) has written a letter to their school community. Worth reading.
https://www.gprep.org/about/news/~post/a-letter-from-fr-van-dyke-to-the-prep-community-20180921.

Carlos Orozco
1 year ago

It seems time is nearing for the Roe v Wade to be finally overturned, and powerful people with vast resources and their pet politicians are not happy. They are desperate and will resort to any tactic to derail one of the two most shameful decisions (and there are many) ever taken by the Supreme Court, the other being Sanford v. Dred Scott, which upheld slavery in 1857 with the same vote result as Roe v. Wade (7-2).

There is should be no rush to sacrifice Brett Kavanaugh. Especially when those opposed to him calculate if it is in their interest to have the alleged victim testify in Congress, they well know the accusations could end up being completely baseless and could damage their electoral aims towards November. These are the same people that once again in 2016 completely ignored or smeared the victims of sexual predator William Jefferson Clinton.

Barbara Mitchell
1 year ago

I am horrified that no call for a thorough FBI investigation into the allegations against Judge Kavanaugh has come from a Jesuit school or other Jesuit source. If the search for truth hasn't exceeded all other considerations, then the Dallas Charter hasn't sunk in yet.

Christopher Devron, SJ
1 year ago

I guess I should not be surprised by the interest and comments that this article has generated given its timeliness and the polarized climate of public life today. I wrote this article in response to a request from AMERICA. I was asked to express, from a first person perspective, how I, as a Jesuit high school leader, respond to criticism in the mainstream media that the culture within all-male Jesuit high schools promotes violence against women. I am confident that what I wrote stands on its own whether the allegation against Judge Kavanaugh is credible, or not, about which I do not take a public position. While of interest to many--and for good reason--Judge Kavanaugh’s innocence or guilt is not relevant to the central thesis of my piece, which was unrelated to politics. Rather I meant to describe anecdotally something about the moral and spiritual foundation of the Jesuit educational mission and enterprise, which teaches students to treat everyone with dignity and respect and contribute to the common good. This mission transcends any individual school--e.g., Fordham Prep or Gerogetown Prep. These are not simply independent schools that exist for their own sake. They have a higher purpose. Moreover, I am confident that the leadership at Georgetown Prep--its faculty, curriculum, service and spiritual formation programs-- teach this respect and promote the common good among its students. Indeed, this promotion of the common good is one of the primary reasons why Ignatius Loyola agreed, originally, for his Jesuits to adopt a new ministry for his Order: the education of the young.

J Jones
1 year ago

Well done.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 year ago

Father Devron
The witches brew which constitutes your article's headline ,as well your own "springboard reference to the Kavanaugh matter" seem to contradict the benign purposes which you assert for having submitted 'this piece.
Judge Kavanaugh's Catholicity has absolutely nothing to do with the allegation asserted against him, nor does the fact that he went to a Jesuit High School. Unfortunately both the Editors and yourself appear to have fallen for the ""toxic masculinity" bait that the mainstream media has trolled you for. You have inadvertently given fuel to the fire of that neologism.

Thomas Farrelly
1 year ago

Father Devron, I suggest that you read the article you wrote and ask yourself whether underlying it is the assumption that the accusation against Judge Kavanaugh is true. That's certainly how it came across to this reader and in my opinion to any reader.

Jorge Rebasa
1 year ago

You should read your article. Most of us here are thoughtful, intelligent, reflective Catholics and not a few, like me, graduates of Jesuit high schools and Jesuit colleges. Like Judge Kavanaugh, we try to reflect the AMDG motto and particularly the “men for others” mindset. Despite Judge Kavanaugh’s stellar reputation, Catholic work, assisting in the lay work of the Church, and being a role model Catholic husband and father, the conclusion of your article is desperate and so undeserving of what Judge Kavanaugh has done and lived as a product of a Jesuit education. Yet you go down the rabbit hole of “toxic masculinity”, from one of many toxic cultural phrases that are bunk. You had a chance to write glowingly of his well documented record yet you chose one pnrase he made taken out of context. He made a quip out of humor and you use it as a springboard to cast aspersions. Imagine if we Jesuit grads told our many stories of drunk Jesuits on our campuses and wrote polemics from those (rare) actions to define what these good and holy men were like in spite of drinking a bit too much on an off night.

tsk tsk. I can only imagine what some of your students might say about one of your less than candid moments. Again, you have given parents and Jesuit grads not to support a Jesuit education for being so fickle and failing to praise a veritable magnificent product of a Jesuit education like Judge Kavanaugh. And this from a homosexual married male like me who knows all too well Judge Kavanaugh, like Scalia, wont support gay marriage.

“God’s Spirit truly animates the whole church. And, I believe, God’s Spirit helps our students see and know the dignity that resides within each person. What a powerful way to inoculate young men against the poison of toxic masculinity....And what happens during their four years at Fordham Prep, should not stay at Fordham Prep. That, in fact, is the whole point.”

J Jones
1 year ago

None of that is an indictment of Kavanaugh.

None of that is most important as it relates to this specific event.

This is most importantly an indictment of Americans and, perhaps most specifically and shamefully, US Roman Catholics. We, as a demographic, appear to have learned very little from our own institutional failings.

So many of the comments here are a devastating mirror of the kinds of responses people used to give when allegations were made against Catholic priests and the Roman Catholic Church. An onslaught of attacks against the small-and-frightened-because-just-one-voice, being battered with all the reasons why her statement absolutely cannot be simply an allegation of sexual abuse. Because the allegation is made against a public figure in a position of great importance in an institution of great importance, the context took on more importance than the alleged victim in the eyes of almost everyone except for the alleged victim and his/her family.

Nancy Pelosi mishandled this. Grassley and McConnell and Trump and Ed Whelan have mishandled this.

The truth of what happened here is less and less important. What is most important is that we, most especially Catholics, have not learned our lesson. And that means our own institutional crisis is likely to continue.

Tim O'Leary
1 year ago

Even the Spanish Inquisition was fairer than this. Brookbank is missing the whole point of unsubstantiated allegations. Unsubstantiated allegations, even of priests, never result in dismissals or convictions. To do so would be unjust in the extreme. It amazes me how so many are willing to abandon any sense of justice, due process or fairness to destroy a perceived political opponent. The claim here is unsubstantiated, completely unverified, and probably unverifiable, since the accuser, who raised this for a confessed political motive, doesn't remember key particulars of the alleged event, has changed them since 2012 (therapist notes), has been contradicted by sworn testimony of the only witness(s) she proposes, has refused so far to give her testimony under oath, and is making a charge that on its face is certainly not a sexually serious event (2 likely inebriated virgin minors, horsing around for less than a minute). My proposal: have the vote on Monday for confirmation. See if an investigation can be done by the Montgomery County police. If it can, and if credible evidence can substantiate a charge, then indict him, bring him to trial and impeach him if found guilty. Otherwise, leave him alone. That is what "innocent until proven guilty" means. The alternatives will only delay the vote until after the election - which is the whole point of this charade in the first place.

J Jones
1 year ago

Why are you unable to restrain yourself from repeating the mistakes the laity made when presented with allegations against clerics?

A Fielder
1 year ago

Tim, innocent until proven guilty only applies to criminal cases. This issue is not about breaking the law, it is about the character of a nominee for the SCOTUS. A credible allegation, even without physical evidence should certainly be taken into consideration. Even the church can take disciplinary acting on credible allegations of sexual misconduct without physical evidence or a criminal conviction . Since you have appointed yourself to be the moderator of so many of these threads, I’m surprised you don’t know that. Also Prof Ford has agreed to testify, Mark Judge should also.

Tim O'Leary
1 year ago

A Fielder - Are you taking the argument that the character of the nominee is best reflected in his behavior at age 17? What if (as seems less and less likely) he did jump on a girl when drunk in his teens and nothing else happened. And then he led an adult life of excellent character. Would you still disqualify him from the Supreme Court, but let him stay on the Appellate court? Or have him impeached there? Is that how you understand justice or character? Is that the new test for all new judicial appointees?

A Fielder
1 year ago

Tim, you’re putting words in my mouth. I just think there should be a very high standard for a life time appointment to the Supreme Court. I am also curious to hear more from the female law students at Yale who were coached for clerkship with Kavanaugh. Sounds like he preferred models. You’re right character is so much more than 2 drunken minutes trying to undress an unwilling sex partner.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 year ago

J Brookbank
Your insistent absolute need to conflate the RCC crisis and the Kavanaugh allegations is almost pathological.
You cavalierly state: "The truth of what happened here is less and less important" ...... astounding!!
In fact it is all that is important in dealing with Judge Kavanaugh. One does not summarily deny anyone their constitutional right to the presumption of innocence in order to make a point about how you believe Catholics need to be educated.
The fact that Judge Kavanaugh is a Catholic is utterly and completely extraneous to the truth or falsity of the allegations against him. Yet you seem bound and determined to make the Ford/ Kavanaugh issue into a cudgel to beat your fellow Catholics for what you perceive as their insensitivity to the ongoing RCC crisis. Has it occurred to you that you presume to much? Has it occurred to you that one can hold the principle that an allegation is insufficient to presume guilt and still be actively engaged in helping the Church to purge itself of the problems of the past RCC coverup?
Your "virtue signaling" is a gross disservice to both Ford and Kavanaugh.

J Jones
1 year ago

Stuart, you are right to call me on that statement about the truth. That was hyperbole. What I meant to express (and did extremely poorly. I apologize and I thank you for pulling me up short).... What I intended to communicate was that there are problems of tremendous scope being revealed by the way Catholics are responding as our Church is sinking into the same soil.

I don't have an opinion on whether this happened or not. As a former investigator, i believe that is the only appropriate and honest and responsible and ethical and CHRISTIAN statement for 99.99999% of the population when allegations are made.

A commitment to justice, then, is a commitment to the presumed innocence of ALL --- the accuser innocent of lying, the accused innocent of the allegation --- until the allegation has been investigated by neutral experts in investigation. In the case of sexual assault allegations against it's members or allies, that was never the Church; that is not Congress; that will never be the Church or Congress.

Kavanaugh's own Catholicism is irrelevant to me either in this context or in any other. It is and should remain irrelevant to all things scotus (separation of church and state, Catholics a minority in the US and all that).

In fact, I have never referenced it.

This is a Catholic site. Presumably most commenters here are Catholic.

The Church is in the midst of a profound crisis with many parallels of profound and lasting impact, far beyond this single instance.

And many of these comments could have been written by armchair defenders of clerics and bishops and, now, cardinals when allegations were made public.

What a tragedy. A lot of suffering and apparently little learned. We make ourselves less and less relevant as a moral guide in the world with this behavior which shows an inability to learn from our collective cataclysmic crisis in this very area.

We only began to get to the truth in the sexual abuse crisis when we began to presume the innocence of accusers with the same passion we presume the innocence of the accused. Both positions are possible; that is the ingrained ethic and skill of experts in investigation.

Stuart Meisenzahl
1 year ago

JBrookbank.
The United States Jurisprudence and the Constitution dictate there must be "probable cause" before an investigation is even undertaken .....a bare allegation without any supporting evidence does not constitute probable cause. I this case the allegations do not contain the date, the time ,the location or any other pertinent data. I have heard, but not confirmed , that the proffered supporting psychiatrist's notes do not even contain the name of the alleged perpetrator.
In short every allegation is not in fact investigated ,nor is every allegation entitled to be investigated.

J Jones
1 year ago

Stuart, again, so little learned.

Tim O'Leary
1 year ago

Brookbank - you seem immune to argument on this one. Kavanaugh is not a priest. He was not an adult. No sex event is even alleged. It wasn't in private. Both were drinking. Both likely virgins. Even Ford's long-time girlfriend and classmate (Leland Ingham Keyser) denies the party! If Ford is mistaken about the amount of alcohol she drank, or the identity of the people she claims were there (who all deny it), or what the boy was actually intending to do, or anything else, she goes home and stays a heroine to the 1/3rd who believe Anita Hill just because she was a woman. But, you have thrown out Kavanaugh's many decades of service, hundreds of men and women witnesses of his stellar probity. His whole adult life. The #MeToo movement has been so impactful because it held to a much higher standard of evidence. It will lose credibility. But, you don't care. Where did you lose your moral compass?

"Simply put, Ms. Keyser does not know Mr. Kavanaugh and she has no recollection of ever being at a party or gathering where he was present, with, or without, Dr. Ford."

J Jones
1 year ago

Tim, so little learned.

PS

I have not once commented on Kavanaugh or Ford themselves.

A Fielder
1 year ago

Tim, #metoo has nothing to do with a higher standard of evidence. It’s about realizing that sexual assault and harassment is an epidemic, and the percentage of women who know this -evidence or not- is probably much higher that you realize.

Tim O'Leary
1 year ago

Fielder - I agree that sexual assault is an epidemic. The victims are mostly women (except in the Church) and in every case I have heard about, it requires some substantiation to go anywhere. Do you know of any #MeToo case that is based on 1) decades old charges, 2) no actual sexual event, 3) teenagers drinking, 4) denials from every witness she named, 5) no power relationship, 6) decades of contrary behavior, and 7) a patent political motive? Brookbank has apparently not learned from the sorry history of false unsubstantiated accusations, from the Salem witch trials to the lynchings of men in the old South. But again, I ask you about your sense of justice, which I think is more open. What would you need to see in a hearing to clear Kavanaugh and have you support a vote on his confirmation next week?

A Fielder
1 year ago

So now you are comparing Prof Ford to the KKK? Interesting. The FBI investigated the charges against Clarence Thomas, why not Kavanaugh? I would like Mark Judge subpoenaed at least, as for additonal steps I’ll defer to Ford’s legal Team. Being held down with your mouth forced closed while a man tries to take your clothes off is a sexual event. And to consider that someone was watching and did not help the victim would certainly be frieghtening.

A Fielder
1 year ago

Tim, I too have given considerable thought to the relevance of an allegation like this about a teenager, whether it is true or not. In my mind this is not a criminal trial, and I think it would be wrong to take away what Kavanaugh has worked for and earned. But that does not mean he is a suitable candidate for the Supreme Court. I hope that he is a fine man now, but for the sake of the country, we can do better.

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