August 26, 2009 (LifeSiteNews.com) – On September 3, 2009, Georgetown University, a Jesuit, Catholic institution in Washington, D.C., plans to bestow upon AFL-CIO President John J. Sweeney an honorary Doctor of Laws degree, despite his organization's advocacy for homosexual “marriage” and laws mandating employee insurance coverage for contraceptives.
Sweeney had served as the vice-president of AFL-CIO since 1980 and was elected president in 1995.
“The Catholic bishops have made it abundantly clear that Catholic universities are not to publicly honor leading opponents of Catholic moral principles,” said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) in response to Georgetown's decision. “We strongly urge Georgetown to uphold its Catholic mission and rescind the honor to John Sweeney.”
Georgetown University President John J. DeGioia, on August 24, issued an e-mail invitation to all faculty, staff and students of Georgetown's law school “to attend the ceremony for the conferral of the degree Doctor of Laws, honoris causa, upon John J. Sweeney,” president of the AFL-CIO.
In March 2009, however, the Executive Council of the AFL-CIO (American Federation of Labor and Congress of Industrial Organizations), the largest federation of trade unions in the U.S., unanimously called on the California Supreme Court to invalidate Proposition 8, which amended that state's constitution to define marriage as a union between one man and one woman.
The AFL-CIO constituency group Pride at Work has repeatedly promoted homosexual “marriage” and hailed laws in Connecticut, Iowa, Massachusetts and Vermont in the face of strong opposition from the Catholic Church.
Another AFL-CIO constituency group, the Coalition of Labor Union Women, launched its “Contraceptive Equity Project” in 2001 to demand that employers provide health insurance coverage for prescription contraceptives. The group advocates state laws forcing employers to fund such coverage.
In December 2001, a resolution was approved at the AFL-CIO national convention calling for a “national law that codifies the EEOC and District Court rulings, making coverage for contraceptives available under health care plans on the same terms that the plans cover other drugs, devices, and preventive care for employees.”
The federal Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recently ruled that Belmont Abbey College, a faithfully Catholic college in North Carolina that is recommended in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, discriminates against women by refusing to insure contraceptives. The Cardinal Newman Society blasted the ruling in a letter to EEOC Acting Chairman Stuart Ishimaru, noting the terrible irony that the EEOC – which is the federal agency responsible for protecting Americans against discrimination – is itself guilty of “an inexcusable violation of religious liberty.”
Also just last week, the Catholic bishops of Wisconsin issued a statement expressing “deep concern” about a state budget provision that would force Catholic dioceses, parishes and other institutions that purchase health insurance to cover contraceptives in direct violation of Catholic teaching.
When the University of Notre Dame similarly honored pro-abortion President Barack Obama last May, the action drew protests from 83 U.S. bishops and more than 367,000 individuals who signed The Cardinal Newman Society's online petition
Most of these bishops cited the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops' 2004 statement “Catholics in Political Life,” which reads:
“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.”
“Georgetown University's public defiance and betrayal of its Catholic mission will be no great surprise to Catholics who have long prayed for a renewal of Catholic identity,” Reilly said. “In the last semester alone, Georgetown covered up the name of Jesus for a lecture by President Obama and hosted 'Sex Positive Week' featuring a pornographic film director.”