Culture of Death at Catholic Colleges in U.S.
A ZENIT DAILY DISPATCH
Culture of Death at Catholic Colleges in U.S.
Patrick 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 topic.
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 problems?
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 honorees.
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 advance.
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 physician-assisted suicide — 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 Georgetown University.
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 pro-abortion candidates.
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 University.
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 time.
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
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