Editor's Note: This article includes vulgarity and graphic content.
The Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights has issued a statement on Texas A&M anthropology professor Filipe Castro.
On Sept. 14 and 15, the Catholic League sent formal complaints to the university administration and President Michael K. Young about Castro because of his anti-Catholic remarks made online and in the classroom. Many of his posts date back several years, but they were recently brought to light after students began lodging formal complaints to the Catholic League.
On Sept. 15, Catholic League President Bill Donahue released a statement that said his office had received complaints of Catholic students being badgered in Castro’s classroom and that Castro had made obscene remarks about women. Donahue said in the statement that he urges Young to launch an investigation into Castro, even though one is already underway by the A&M Office of Risk, Ethics and Compliance for controversial comments Castro made on Facebook about members of the Republican Party.
“Some of what Castro has said on social media are highly controversial statements of a political nature,” Donahue’s statement reads. “Such commentary is not the issue. He has every right to his opinion. But he has no right to deliberately insult Catholics with his sick portrayal of priests and his trashing of Catholicism.”
Along with the remarks reported in the classroom, the Catholic League is concerned with some of the hateful and anti-Catholic posts made on social media, Donahue said.
“When they are not banging little boys, they are sucking up to the rich and the powerful, and if they are not banging little boys or sucking up the rich, they are blessing the Nazis,” Castro wrote in one Facebook post dated July 2, speaking of Catholics.
Beyond remarks toward Catholics, the Catholic League is worried about his comments condoning violence, said Catholic League Communications Director Michael McDonald.
“One of the reasons we felt compelled to get involved here [is] because the narratives seem to be shifting away from some of his more truly offensive statements,” McDonald said. “He’s calling for beating priests with two-by-fours and he wants to burn Catholic churches down, so there’s just some really visceral comments. He has every right to have his anti-conservative opinions, but what really concerned us was the fact that he is making violent threats against Catholics.”
In one of Castro’s Facebook comments, specifically mentioned by McDonald, Castro claims he is afraid of the police and, therefore, is afraid to commit arson, but is not afraid of beating priests if necessary.
“Apparently they don’t want me to burn their churches and beat their priests with a two-by-four,” Castro wrote in a Facebook comment. “I am OK for the churches: arson is a crime and I am afraid of the police.”
McDonald said the Catholic League’s initial complaint was made after seeing smaller media outlets, such as Crisis Magazine, covering Castro’s hate speech online and hoped to help the decision-makers at A&M become more aware of what was happening at their university. Following the initial complaint, students came forward to the Catholic League, which then prompted the second complaint to A&M.
“A couple of students from A&M, after we released our initial complaint on Monday, reached out with additional information that wasn’t covered anywhere,” McDonald said. “We took a look at it and the material that the students sent us from A&M was really something we thought people should see, in addition to what we put out in the first place, so we sent out a follow-up complaint on Tuesday.”
The Catholic League’s main goal in these complaints is to bring light to the situation within administrative ranks so they can start an investigation and handle it accordingly, McDonald said. McDonald said the threats posed by Castro do not represent a fair and equal learning environment for students, and the Catholic League hopes to see A&M take action.
“To have someone in a position of power in the university and saying some of these very violent and hateful things is just not fair to students and not conducive to learning in the university setting,” McDonald said. “Universities need to be about free thought, challenging students to think critically, but when you’re just throwing personal attack after personal attack, you’re not moving the conversation forward, you’re trying to stifle it.”
The university has yet to contact the Catholic League following the complaints. To read the full statement by Bill Donahue of the Catholic League, visit https://www.catholicleague.org/texas-am-prof-digs-deeper-hole/.
At the time of publication, Castro has not responded to The Battalion’s request for comments.