BOSTON, August 31, 2005 ( – The work being done by the Cardinal Newman Society to re-establish a genuine Catholic character to those post-secondary institutions bearing the name, must be stinging academic circles long accustomed to having their own way. Boston College, the infamously liberal Jesuit school, has complained that it is being unfairly accused and is hotly asserting its legitimacy as a Catholic institution.Â

Statistics, however, do not support the college’s claim, having shown that Catholic students attending the big “Catholic” institutions frequently stop practicing their faith, or lose it altogether when exposed to fashionable academic liberalism, secularism and moral relativism that are rampant in most mainstream Catholic academia.Â

The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) was founded in 1993 by a group of laymen, professors, students and alumni to address the situation that they say was being neglected by college administration and bishops. Their mandate, “the renewal of Catholic identity at Catholic colleges and universities,” is meeting with approval from parents and ordinary lay Catholics. Membership has jumped since 2002 from 3000 to 18,000 and donations are up from $126,000 in the same year to $622,000.

It should not be surprising then, that one of the most notoriously liberal “Catholic” colleges in the US should be worried about the group’s influence. The prestigious Boston College has long harbored some of the most notoriously anti-Catholic “Catholic” professors in the US including the Mary Daly, the “mother” of radical feminist theology. Boston College is the flagship of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities. As such, the college is particularly sensitive to the allegations made by the Cardinal Newman Society.Â

Boston College is fighting back in the press saying “Boston College’s Catholicity is unquestionable. We are firmly committed to our Jesuit Catholic mission and heritage.”

This assertion might be seen as incredible by supporters of Terri Schiavo and her family whose effort to prevent her court-ordered killing by dehydration was in part opposed by members of Boston College’s faculty.

In June, the CNS issued a statement condemning 18 bioethicists, 3 from Boston College, who submitted a brief in August 2004, to the Florida Supreme Court to overturn “Terri’s Law,” the measure passed by the state legislature to empower Gov. Jeb Bush to protect Terri Schiavo’s life. The CNS named law professors Milton Heifetz and Charles Baron and theology professor and Jesuit priest, John Paris.

In the Florida brief, they argued that euthanising Terri was justified because “no legal right is more important in American society than the right of personal autonomy.”Â

That this flies in the face of long-standing Catholic moral theology and medical ethics as well as statements on Terri Schiavo from Pope John Paul II and many other competent Vatican officials, made no difference to the Boston professors.Â

John Paris said, “The problem here is that non-Catholics think when the pope says, ‘Jump!’ we all say, ‘How high?’” In perhaps unconscious irony, Rev. Paris said, “No one has ever accused me of a doctrinal error in my 45 years as a Jesuit.”

That, however, may be the crux of the problem. The fact that the Catholic character of the Church’s colleges has been eroded by secularism and leftist moral relativism to the point where it hardly deserves the name, is well known by Catholic parents and the Vatican.Â

In 1990, an attempt was made by Rome to clean up the problem by issuing a document demanding that Catholic colleges offering courses in Catholic theology, philosophy or ethics, must adhere to what the Church teaches. The document, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, was largely ignored by bishops in the US and Canada, and was widely condemned by the colleges.Â

“To demand that Catholic-sponsored universities only toe the line of Catholic dogma is an affront to education,” said Boston College’s Heifetz.

Read Reilly’s article, “Teaching Euthanasia” in Crisis Magazine (Acrobat required):

Read Boston Globe coverage:

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