NEW YORK, May 12, 2003 ( – The Cardinal Newman Society, a U.S. organization which attempts to ensure Catholic colleges are faithful to their Catholic identity objected in a letter to Marist College’s selection of pro-abortion New York Attorney General Eliot Spitzer to give this year’s commencement address on May 17.  The Archdiocese of New York has responded to Cardinal Newman Society’s protest by declaring the college “is no longer a Catholic institution” and therefore not under the Church’s jurisdiction.  The Newman Society says it is the first time since Pope John Paul II issued Ex corde Ecclesiae, the apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, that a bishop has declared an historically Catholic college or university to be not Catholic.  The 1990 document gives local bishops the responsibility of determining whether colleges can bear the label “Catholic.” Catholic colleges established prior to 1990 are assumed to be Catholic and to conform sufficiently to the guidelines of Ex corde Ecclesiae until a bishop declares otherwise.  Marist College in Poughkeepsie, New York, was founded in 1946 by the Catholic order of Marist Brothers and established an independent board of trustees in 1969-an action taken by most religious colleges in New York in the late 1960s to ensure state and federal aid. Recently, college officials have claimed the college is no longer Catholic, and its promotional materials and website claim it is an “independent, liberal arts college.”  Nevertheless, the college’s status remained unclear, partly because college officials have been careful not to put too much distance between the college and the Catholic Church.  College materials still promote its “ineradicable Judeo-Christian roots” and “Marist spirit and heritage.” The college retains a few Marist brothers on the faculty and staff, offers a Catholic Studies minor.  Several sources identify the college as Catholic, including the Official Catholic Directory, which requires the Archdiocese of New York to approve local listings; the websites of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities, the National Catholic College Admission Association and the Diocese of Brooklyn; and Catholic college directories compiled by Paulist Press and  The confusion ended with a letter dated May 2 and signed by Joseph Zwilling, Communications Director of the Archdiocese of New York, who on behalf of Cardinal Edward Egan confirmed that “Marist College is no longer a Catholic institution”-a statement that was repeated later this week to the Poughkeepsie Journal.  Zwilling said Marist College will not be included in future editions of the Official Catholic Directory.