Home | Opinion | Editorial | Providence


Font size: Decrease font Enlarge font
image Paulo Coutinho

“Our privilege and mission is to introduce [the students] to a university environment where they learn to analyze, question, evaluate and decide in the context of consciously assimilated values and culture.”
Fr Peter Stilwell,

“Rector’s Welcome Message,” USJ website

Popular and outspoken scholar Éric Sautedé was sacked from the University of Saint Joseph (USJ) on political grounds by the rector.
Father Peter Stilwell’s comments to Ponto Final yesterday were something close to disastrous for an academic and for the university:
“It’s [a decision] made for the sake of clarification. There is a primary principle in the Church [doctrine], which is of non-intervention in local political debate.”
Come again? Who’s talking about the Church? Clarification? Let’s clarify, then.
As a leader of a university, Professor Stilwell should not wear the priest’s vestments he usually wears at Sunday mass.
The Reverend Father Peter Stilwell is the rector of the USJ and in that capacity –   and in that capacity only – can he make a decision to fire one of his staff. And Stilwell himself made it very clear that it was (a politically biased) decision of the university.
Apparently, Stilwell is the one in need of clarification of his role(s), not Sautedé, not us lay people.
Stilwell is actually confessing failure to perform his role adequately. How can one trust in a university that is lead by a rector that abides by non-academic standards and blocks its faculty from participating in social debate?
As a member of the academy, he should be promoting debate – political, philosophical, theological even, in any science. He should protect and encourage his faculty to ‘shake’ their students’ minds for them to participate, to engage in public life, to be critical, to have a voice. More so in a place where political apathy and conformism have habitually reigned amongst our youth.
Éric Sautedé – like few others in the (fragile) local academic circle – is doing what he’s supposed to do: lecturing, researching, writing, commenting on his field of expertise about current affairs, thus contributing to society at large with his public intervention, namely with his column in MDT.
Mark, for instance, Dr Chui Sai On's words this very week: “Young people’s expression of opinions and critical thinking is part of their education.”
Fr Stilwell made his decision in the aftermath of the huge “May Spring” demonstrations in Macau joined by thousands of people voicing their discontent with public policies and the deteriorating quality of life.
To say the least, the political sacking of a scholar by the USJ’s rector was really bad timing.
Providence, for those who believe in it, and Fr Peter is surely one of them, was not with him. And will not grant him what he seems to be after at all costs: the building of the Ilha Verde campus for the Catholic university, which has been lagging for years and years.
If the University of Saint Joseph had some modicum of comparative advantage over the more bureaucratic government-
sponsored institutions, it was precisely that of openness, where debate was possible. That reputation is now in tatters.

Tagged as:

No tags for this article
  • Email to a friend Email to a friend
  • Print version Print version

Subscribe to comments feed Comments (2 posted)

MDT Editor 06/07/2014 02:54:44
You, Mr Gonçalo ?, are committing precisely the same 'sin' as Father Stilwell: confusing the role of the Church and the role of a University.
The editor of this newspaper understands the role of the Church the same exact way as you do: "Catholic church has as its main purpose evangelisation." And that is precisely where we and you+the Church+Stilwell part ways, because for you that is also the role of the USJ (not SJU). But it's not - not by law. And your faith, plus Fr Stilwell's faith, plus the bishop's though commendable, cannot be above the law, the law of the layman. If the mission of the USJ is the same of that of the Church, as you Mr Gonçalo ? advocate, then USJ should not even be given license to teach! Should be closed for good. Instead of a campus, it should be dedicated to building a seminary! That would be proper and that would be clear and that would be legal.
I may not "know about the Church", as you (highly speculatively) presume. But believe me: you just proved it otherwise. You just proved to me how I deeply understand you - YOU - and YOUR church. PC

PS: Feel free to write a Letter to the Editor! You are most welcome. But then you have to identify yourself. I understand that that might be a problem for YOU...
Thumbs Up Thumbs Down
Gonçalo 27/06/2014 04:49:22
MDT Director and Editor forgets SJU is a Catholic University and that its mission go beyond small local politics. Catholic church has as its main purpose evanglization, namely in China, where many suffer prosecution. Why would want to keep in its staff someone that, for instance, promoted a conference in USJ that clearly attacked Mao? To compromise its mission? To give China reasons to block Catholic Church in the mainland?
Your words clearly show that you don't know much about the Church. Your main value is freedom of expression, because it is your way of leaving. But a Catholic University, where many are being prepared to evangelize, can't see things the same way. Other values and purposes are more important.
Thumbs Up Thumbs Down
total: 2 | displaying: 1 - 2

Post your comment

Please enter the code you see in the image:


Responsible Right of Expression — In the interest of freedom of expression, coupled with a true sense of responsibility to encourage community dialogue, the Macau Daily Times offers its readers the opportunity to express their opinions on new-related matters through this website. All opinions are welcome. However, we reserve the right to remove comments that are deemed to be obscene, or are merely insults written under the cloak of anonymity. MDT