Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Matthew Fox to Leave College

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Matthew Fox to Leave College

Article excerpt

OAKLAND, Calif.--Breaking his last formal tie with Roman Catholicism, maverick theologian Matthew Fox will leave Oakland's College of the Holy Names in May to establish an independent educational institution, the University of Creation Spirituality.

Since 1984, Holy Names, a small Catholic college, has been home to Fox's Institute in Culture and Creation Spirituality or ICCS.

The institute gained notoriety for its cutting-edge approach to theological education -- a postmodern, ecumenical mix of world religions, the arts and New Age spiritualities.

Fox's theology retains many of the tenets of Christianity but downplays traditional notions of humanity's sinfulness and seeks to foster a spirituality based on ancient Christian mysticism.

The ICCS program survived 12 years of Vatican attacks on Fox, a former Catholic priest who was criticized for favoring the ordination of women, hiring a practitioner of the Wiccan religion on his faculty and allegedly denying the doctrine of original sin.

Fox was expelled from the Dominican Order in 1993. In December 1994 he became en episcopal priest.

Fox told administrators, faculty and students Feb. 12 he was leaving Holy Names because he wanted to take his "post-denominational" vision of Christianity further than he could at the liberal Catholic college.

He criticized efforts by Holy Names to "institutionalize" the ICCS program with more stringent reviews dews of curricula. He also said the school resisted his efforts to establish a high-tech ritual center and to accredit course work in "rave" spirituality.

"My basic attitude toward Holy Names is gratitude and pride," Fox said. "We did positive things for 12 years."

Holy Names President Mary Alice Muellerleile denied church pressures affected the school's relationship with Fox. On the contrary, she said, Holy Names would have been happy to keep Fox on its faculty and was prepared to renew his annual teaching contract. …

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