Tufts University President, John DiBiaggio, has publicly expressed his dismay after a campus production of “Sister Mary Ignatius Explains It All For You.” After acknowledging the theatrical group’s absolute right to produce the play “as an exercise of First Amendment freedom,” he went on to express his “profound regret” that the theater group had chosen to exercise its freedom “to promote anti-Catholic bigotry.”
In his open letter which was published in The Tufts Daily, DiBiaggio openly associated himself with condemnations of the play by the Anti-Defamation League of B’nai B’rith and the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights. “We have grown accustomed to insulting each other as a matter of routine,” DiBiaggio said.
DiBiaggio’s public statements stood in stark contrast to the usual reaction of school and/or public officials across the country who routinely defend the play’s production on “freedom of speech” grounds but never seem to get around to acknowledging that Christopher Durang’s play is a straightforward and unvarnished exercise in good old-fashioned Catholic bashing in the best tradition of the Know-Nothings.
Father Michael Hunt, CSP, Catholic chaplain at the school located in Medford, Massachusetts, praised DiBiaggio’s statement and noted that Catholic students appreciated the public admission that the play was anti-Catholic. Father Hunt saluted DiBiaggio for his wisdom in waiting until after the production before calling public attention to the play’s content. Action prior to the production, Father Hunt said, would have attracted a much bigger audience and focused attention on the issues o f free speech, censorship and artistic freedom rather than on the play’s blatant anti-Catholicism.