Reilly on the Threat of Pro-Abortion Advocates
MANASSAS, Virginia, 19 JULY 2004 (ZENIT)
The trend of Catholic colleges hosting
abortion-rights advocates has grown so much that the U.S. bishops'
conference has asked Church-related institutions to refrain from honoring
those who act in defiance of Church teachings.
Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, co-authored a
five-year study with the group's Erin Butcher investigating inroads made
by advocates of abortion, contraception, premarital sexual activity and
physician-assisted suicide on Catholic college campuses.
Reilly shared with ZENIT the importance of the U.S. bishops' statement and
the danger of Catholic schools welcoming high-profile persons who publicly
oppose the Church's fundamental moral principles.
Part 2 of this interview will appear Tuesday.
Q: In the recent statement, "Catholics in Political Life," the bishops'
conference stated: "The Catholic community and Catholic institutions
should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral
principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which
would suggest support for their actions." What was the significance of the
U.S. bishops warning schools against honoring dissenters?
Reilly: The statement is laudable, formally endorsing Cardinal Newman
Society's long-held position against Catholic institutions honoring or
inviting abortion-rights advocates.
Archbishop James Kelleher had already instituted this policy in Kansas
City, but most other diocesan policies against pro-abortion honorees and
speakers apply only to parishes and Church-owned facilities, as if the
Catholic identity of those facilities has different implications than the
Catholic identity of legally independent agencies.
The bishops' statement affirms that Catholic teaching and expectations are
the same not only for all Catholic individuals
with no exceptions for politicians
but also for all Catholic institutions. We hope that diocesan policies
will now formally reflect this national statement, which had
near-unanimous support in the bishops' conference.
The ban on honors and speaking platforms is far-reaching, applying not
only to pro-abortion Catholic politicians but to anyone who acts "in
defiance of our fundamental moral principles."
Its reference to "platforms which would suggest support for their actions"
could include campus lectures and commencement addresses, especially by
politicians in the midst of campaigns, regardless of the speaking topic
a direct challenge to the prevailing radical notion of academic freedom,
which ignores Christian concerns about the truth and the common good.
Q: What is the danger of Catholic schools welcoming high-profile persons
who publicly oppose Church teachings?
Reilly: There is always the danger that these individuals could use a
platform at a Catholic institution to attack or at least erode support for
Catholic teachings, even when invited to speak on a seemingly benign
There are recent instances of public advocates spewing their venom on
Catholic campuses, including NARAL's Kate Michelman at Boston College,
National Organization for Women president Kim Gandy at Loyola University
of New Orleans, pornographer Larry Flynt at Georgetown University, radical
feminist Gloria Steinem at Fairfield University, and researchers engaged
in human cloning and embryonic stem-cell research at Assumption College
and the College of the Holy Cross.
More commonly, speakers and honorees do not challenge Catholic teaching
while on campus. Colleges select these speakers and honorees because of
their legitimate expertise and accomplishments, which are unrelated to
their more-harmful activities. Cannot a pro-abortion politician give a
campus lecture on taxes or the military? The argument put forward by many
college officials is that such an event is proper because no one
explicitly advocates immorality.
Take this to the extreme, of course, and a Catholic college could invite
Hitler to speak on the merits of German music and art. It is doubtful that
any Catholic college would host or honor Louis Farrakhan or David Duke
because of their views on race, regardless of the speaking topic.
How did Catholic college leaders come to so easily disregard speakers'
public advocacy of abortion, homosexual activity or "marriage," fetal
experimentation, physician-assisted suicide and a host of other serious
An award or speaking platform places an individual in an honored and
respected position, regardless of what they discuss on campus. Honorees
and lecturers differ from college faculty only in degree: despite the
brevity of their presence on campus, they temporarily share professors'
special status as educators and models for students. Canon law rightly
insists that Catholic institutions expect "probity of life" outside the
classroom for professors, and the same might be expected for lecturers and
The primary concern is scandal. Once an individual has publicly acted "in
defiance of our fundamental moral principles," that person is identified
with that action regardless of the reason for the campus visit.
When a Catholic institution freely chooses to invite that individual to
lecture or receive special honors, the institution publicly declares a
lack of intensity in its commitment to Catholic teaching, disregards those
who have been harmed by the individual's actions, undermines efforts to
expose and oppose the individual's harmful behavior, and confuses students
about the responsibilities of faithful Catholics.
When asked "Why not?" I cannot help but ask "Why?" The simplest argument
against hosting honorees and lecturers who advance the culture of death is
that humanity has not sunk so low as to necessitate such invitations. On
any lecture topic, experts can be found who do not raise these concerns.
When choosing prominent commencement speakers and honorees, there are
thousands of good options. Whereas college leaders tend to characterize
any restriction on their freedom to select speakers and honorees as a
death knell for quality scholarship, there is no such plight. ZE04071921
Patrick Reilly Gives Examples and
Outlines Possible Solutions
MANASSAS, Virginia, 20 JULY 2004 (ZENIT)
Over the last five years, hundreds of
inroads made by advocates of "the culture of death" have been documented
at Catholic colleges.
That is according to a new study by the Cardinal Newman Society. The
phenomenon of such advocates on campuses has prompted the U.S. bishops'
conference to ask Church-related institutions to refrain from honoring
those who act in defiance of Church teachings.
Patrick Reilly, the president of the Newman Society and co-author of the
report with the group's Erin Butcher, shared with ZENIT how the culture of
death is infiltrating Catholic campuses and what can be done to stop its
Part 1 of this interview appeared Monday.
Q: What were the most common examples of "the culture of death"
inroads made by advocates of abortion, contraception, premarital sex and
that your study uncovered at Catholic colleges?
Reilly: The most common problem is speakers and honorees.
We documented nearly 200 incidents of inappropriate speakers and honorees
since 1999, but because our research was based primarily on published
reports available in college newspapers and on the Internet, we are
certain that the actual number of inappropriate speakers and honorees is
much higher than 200.
This is why the recent U.S. bishops' statement calling on Catholic
institutions to refrain from honoring those who act in defiance of
Catholic teaching means so much to our members, especially students who
have been struggling to improve campus culture.
Frequently these speakers and honorees are pro-abortion politicians. We
found at least 17 visits and lectures by former President Bill Clinton at
What's worse, Catholic campuses often host pro-abortion politicians for
campaign events. In the current presidential campaign, Marquette
University and St. Anselm College hosted debates consisting entirely of
Other campaign appearances included John Kerry at Georgetown in January
2003 and again last April, for a major speech laying out his economic
plan; Dennis Kucinich at Sacred Heart University; Howard Dean at St.
Anselm and Georgetown; Dick Gephardt's daughter at Boston College;
Gephardt and Kerry at Clarke College; and Wesley Clark at Rivier College.
Of course, speakers and honorees are not the only concerns at Catholic
colleges. Several host and sometimes sponsor pro-abortion student clubs,
such as the Reproductive Choice Coalition at Boston College law school,
and Hoyas for Choice and Georgetown Students for Choice at Georgetown
Internship and service opportunities can be a problem, such as the Planned
Parenthood "clinic escort" position promoted by Nazareth College's campus
ministry. Several college Web sites refer or link students to
organizations including NARAL Pro-Choice America, Planned Parenthood, the
National Organization for Women and the Feminist Majority Foundation.
We discovered that Georgetown's Web site referred students to local
abortion clinics, the College of Santa Fe provided "emergency
contraception" to students, and many colleges covered contraceptives in
employee health plans.
Q: What in your study's findings surprised you the most?
Reilly: The Cardinal Newman Society has dealt with most of these problems
over the past decade, so nothing was particularly surprising. But after
pulling our research together, I was struck by the extent to which
problems at Georgetown University dominated much of the report.
Perhaps Georgetown's several campus publications and extensive Web site
allowed for more thorough research than at many other colleges, but it is
troubling to find scandals so numerous at the United States' oldest
Catholic university with a charter from the Vatican.
I also find deeply disturbing the presence of culture of death advocates
among the faculty members, trustees, administrators, and staff members of
Catholic colleges. Here not only are Catholic colleges guilty of following
social trends, but employees of the institution itself are actively
working against the Church on some of the most important issues of our
Daniel Maguire, a former priest and outspoken dissenter on sexual morality
and abortion, teaches theology and ethics at Marquette University.
Georgetown faculty members have included board members of organizations
that are leading the fight for physician-assisted suicide, as well as
employees of Planned Parenthood.
Sheila Smith, president of Mount St. Clare College
now renamed Franciscan University in Iowa
in 2001 and 2002, had previously been a pro-abortion candidate for U.S.
Congress and Illinois lieutenant governor.
Pro-abortion politicians, most of them "retired" from politics, also find
a refuge in Catholic colleges.
These include Carol Moseley Braun teaching management at DePaul
University, Geraldine Ferraro sitting on Fordham University law school's
board of visitors and teaching public policy at Georgetown, and Leon
Panetta teaching political science and sitting on the board of trustees
and law school board of visitors at Santa Clara University.
Q: What are some solutions to ensure that Catholic colleges uphold their
Catholic, pro-life mission?
Reilly: At a minimum, Catholic colleges and their employees should not
contribute to the culture of death.
This means carefully screening prospective employees and representatives
of colleges, banning inappropriate campus speakers and honorees, providing
campus health and counseling services that are consistent with Catholic
teaching, monitoring college Web sites and materials distributed on
campus, and refusing to cooperate with organizations that advance the
culture of death
such as referrals to Planned Parenthood.
As with individual Catholics, something more is also expected of Catholic
institutions: They should be proactively building a culture of life.
Colleges can begin with their own campuses.
This means providing counseling and health services that promote chastity,
adoption and motherhood, providing comprehensive and well-promoted
services for pregnant students, seeking honorees and lecturers who model
pro-life activism and behavior, and otherwise finding ways to be visibly
and persuasively pro-life in all official actions and commitments.
Colleges struggling with this issue can look for advice from institutions
that are consistently Catholic. A few examples include the Franciscan
University of Steubenville, Thomas Aquinas College, and the Catholic
University of America, but there are several other good models. ZE04072022