Damage control: Indiana Catholic college president addresses Planned Parenthood display
NOTRE DAME, Indiana, November 10, 2015 (LifeSiteNews) – After allowing an on-campus student demonstration highlighting Planned Parenthood amenities, and faculty to distribute statistics on the abortion giant's purported non-abortion services, the president of an Indiana Catholic college is insisting that the school remains faithful to its mission and Catholic identity.
Saint Mary's President Carol Ann Mooney said while it might not have been "readily apparent," there was a difference between what students and faculty who wanted to emphasize Planned Parenthood offerings had originally wanted to do on campus and what they were ultimately allowed to do.
"The student group wanted to stage an openly pro-Planned Parenthood event; they wanted to advocate for an organization that operates, in a number of ways, in contravention of Church teaching," Mooney said in an email to students last Thursday. "The faculty distributed information about what Planned Parenthood does."
Fort Wayne-South Bend Bishop Kevin Rhoades stated he was unhappy with the pro-Planned Parenthood display on campus at Saint Mary's.
"I expressed my sadness and disappointment [to Mooney] that some students and faculty were supporting Planned Parenthood," Bishop Rhoades said in a Cardinal Newman Society report. "She assured me that the administration does not support or endorse Planned Parenthood."
Saint Mary's Feminists United club posted 1,852 flags on campus October 29, with each flag intended to signify 10 of the abortion giant's services not involving abortion or contraception.
The Planned Parenthood display was a comeback against the pro-life Planned Parenthood Project's display, invited by Saint Mary's student pro-life group, Belles for Life, and held October 15 during Saint Mary's Pro-Life Week, according to the student newspaper The Observer.
"I am grateful to the pro-life students and faculty at Saint Mary's College who are standing up for the sacredness of human life and the true dignity of women," Bishop Rhoades said of the pro-life display. "All Catholic colleges are called to live faithfully their Catholic identity and mission, which includes a commitment to the sanctity of life and the true dignity of women. This necessarily includes opposition to Planned Parenthood and its callousness toward women and their unborn children."
It was after lengthy discussion between Student Affairs and "concerned students," the Observer report said, that Mooney granted permission for the display.
"The Student Affairs Office rightly took the position that a Saint Mary's student group cannot advocate for Planned Parenthood because Planned Parenthood acts contrary to Church teaching," Mooney said.
"Student Affairs insisted that not only were the flags to be unmarked, but there was to be no sign indicating that the flags had anything to do with Planned Parenthood," she said. "These constraints were placed on this student organization because recognized student groups at Saint Mary's are not permitted to advocate for positions contrary to Catholic Church teaching."
Mooney also said a small group of faculty members decided to distribute a "fact sheet" at the Planned Parenthood display with stats on STI/STD tests and treatments, cancer screenings, contraception distribution, pregnancy tests, and prenatal services purportedly provided by the abortion giant last year.
Planned Parenthood repeatedly insists that abortion makes up only three percent of its business, when it's been shown to be significantly more at 30 percent at least. And while Planned Parenthood regularly claims to provide mammograms, its president recently admitted after years that, in fact, it does not.
"The academic administration told the faculty members that the fact sheet could be only that, a fact sheet, and not an advocacy piece," Mooney said. "The distribution of the information by the faculty members was, understandably and unfortunately, seen as being part of the students' display, and the whole was perceived as support for Planned Parenthood."
Despite some people's thought that Student Affairs and Academic Affairs could have been more transparent in the matter, Mooney said, both acted in good faith and consistently with the dual roles Saint Mary's College plays in education, referring to free access to information and the formation of students in the Catholic tradition – the latter of which prohibits student groups from taking advocacy position inconsistent with Church teaching.
Bishop Rhoades had words of support for pro-life people on campus and called for all to unite behind the cause of ending taxpayer of funding the nation's largest abortion chain.
"I encourage them [pro-life students and faculty] to stand in solidarity with the U.S. Bishops and the Church in our opposition to Planned Parenthood, the nation's largest abortion network, and our position that Planned Parenthood should be defunded and federal funding should be reallocated so that women can obtain their health care from providers that do not promote abortion," Bishop Rhoades said. "Planned Parenthood is part of the 'throw-away' culture which Pope Francis criticizes so strongly, especially as seen in the revelations of its trafficking in the body parts of aborted babies."