John-Henry Westen


13 US Catholic Colleges Caught Honouring Abortion Advocates and Dissidents

John-Henry Westen

MANASSAS, VA, May 6, 2005 ( - At least 13 Catholic colleges and universities are at odds with the U.S. bishops for inviting commencement speakers and honorary degree recipients who are public opponents of fundamental Catholic teachings on issues such as abortion and same-sex marriage.

Speakers and honorees under protest by the Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) include pro-abortion politicians: California Secretary for Education Richard Riordan at the Dominican University (CA), former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani at Loyola College (MD), U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitchell Landrieu at Loyola University of New Orleans, former U.S. Rep. Amory Houghton at St. Bonaventure University (NY), and Ireland President Mary McAleese at Villanova University (PA).

“We are blowing the whistle on any Catholic college or university that blatantly disrespects the bishops by defying their clear command and teaching,” said Patrick J. Reilly, president of CNS, a national organization dedicated to the renewal of Catholic identity at America’s 219 Catholic colleges and universities. “After decades of scandal at secularizing colleges, last June the bishops drew a line in the sand. No college that crosses that line deserves the label ‘Catholic’ or the support of the faithful-most especially monetary support.”

In June 2004, the U.S. Bishops issued the following mandate: “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.”

In late April, officials of the Archdiocese of New York confirmed that Marymount Manhattan College is no longer Catholic, after years of formally recognizing the historically Catholic college in The Official Catholic Directory. CNS had protested the College’s planned commencement speaker, Sen. Hillary Clinton, prompting the College—which had secularized since its 1961 split from Marymount College in Tarrytown, New York—to publicly disavow its Catholic heritage. Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, also was also found to be “no longer Catholic” after CNS protested its 2003 commencement speaker, New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer.

The number of colleges protested by CNS thus far—several institutions have not disclosed their commencement plans—appears better than last year’s protest against 25 inappropriate speakers and honorees.

“We can tentatively say that the bishops’ June directive may have had a demonstrable positive impact on the choice of commencement speakers and honorees this year,” Reilly said. “If the bishops are able to enforce their policy where it is violated, then we may witness the beginning of a new renaissance in faithful Catholic higher education.”

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