by Ben Conover
St. Louis, MO.
On Thursday, February 10th at De Smet Jesuit High School in Creve Couer, MO, the students and faculty of the school entered the gymnasium for the Father Pierre De Smet Birthday Mass. The school was honored with hosting Bishop Edward Rice, a newly-appointed bishop for the Archdiocese of St. Louis, as the celebrant of their namesake’s Mass.
Bishop Rice officiated Father De Smet’s elegantly decorated birthday Mass properly. He reached his homily, which addressed the difficulties of faith. He started by emphasizing how the Mass being celebrated in the gym was nearly identical to the Masses Father De Smet gave, and stressed the importance of the traditions of Catholicism. He continued into a part about the difficulties of responsibly practicing his faith and the faith shared by most of the attendees of the Mass.
Halfway through the homily, Rice began what has been described by some as a “tangent” against atheism. The Bishop described atheism as taking “the easy way out” and colored the lack of religious belief as lacking appreciation for moral values or caring about others. He insinuated that atheist have their beliefs to avoid morality and that they have no reason to be good people. Senior Alex Judd, who plans to attend Berkelee College of Music in the fall, was offended by the Bishop’s comments: “His main point was that he wished he could be an atheist so he would not need to worry about being accountable for his actions, the well being of others, or morals.”
*QUOTE REMOVED* Bishop Rice continued by addressing the audience, saying that some of the students might consider themselves atheists, but insisted they were playing into the popularity of atheism. Another anonymous student thought the Bishop missed the mark: “He was out of line, even in an all-boys catholic school setting.”
Bishop Rice also mentioned his volunteer work at a soup kitchen in the St. Louis area. He indicated that if he was an atheist, he would have no reason to go down and help the homeless and starving. *QUOTE REMOVED*
Judd also suggested ideas for the Bishop to improve his message: “I would probably tell him that he should seriously reflect on his reasons for being Catholic.” Particularly, Judd noted that the message was directly against the popularized idea of religious coexistence. “I would point out that he is a lost cause when it comes to the progression of our society towards honest coexistence,” Judd said.
*As of Wednesday, February 23rd, I have removed two quotes from one source in this article at his behest. The quotes were in no way inaccurate nor did they misrepresent the situation or the source, but the request to remove them came at the behest of the source for personal and social reasons.* – Ben Conover