Second Major Study Shows Modern Catholic Universities Harm Students’ Faith Life

Thu Dec 8, 2005 - 12:15 pm EST

By Terry Vanderheyden and John-Henry Westen

PERTH, Australia, December 8, 2005 ( – Students who attend Catholic Universities are more likely to lose their faith than retain or enrich it, according to new Australian research.

The Western Australia Catholic newspaper, The Record, reported on survey results by Dr. Luke Saker, stating that “almost all students who graduate from Catholic education regard the Church as irrelevant.”

Dr. Saker found that only 12.8% of 133 Edith Cowan University students polled attended church on Sunday, while 82% rarely or never availed themselves of the sacrament of reconciliation. Other highlights of his survey found that 77% believed the Church’s teaching against contraception was outmoded; the majority - 69% - believed abortion was murder, but most said it could be allowed if the child was conceived by rape.

In addition, the majority (59%) believed that sex outside of marriage was okay, including an even greater majority, 66%, who felt homosexual sex was acceptable. In an interview with Record journalist Jamie O’Brien, Dr. Saker said he estimates that 90 per cent of students emerging from the Catholic schools system in the state are not practising their faith.

When asked by O’Brien if Catholic teachers were failing to educate their students in the faith, Dr. Saker responded, “Yes. They are not carrying out the mandate given to them by the Catholic Bishops of [Western Australia] intended for Religious Education. In other words, the mandate given by the bishops was intended for youth and I’m not convinced that this is being carried out successfully.”

A large study that recorded similar findings was conducted in the United States and published with much attention in 2003. That results of that study were reported in a previous story.

Last year, the Cardinal Newman Society, an organization established to hold Catholic universities true to the faith they profess, issued a report summarizing scandals at U.S. Catholic colleges and universities.

The 56-page report, “The Culture of Death on Catholic Campuses: A Five-Year Review,” documented inroads made by advocates of abortion, contraception, premarital sexual activity, and physician-assisted suicide on Catholic college campuses since 1999. The report cited nearly 200 instances of campus speakers and honorees who were public advocates of abortion or otherwise contributors to the “Culture of Death”. College officials and faculty with ties to pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia organizations and some even providing abortifacient drugs to students. (see coverage )

In 2003 alone, the Cardinal Newman Society reported that 42 U.S. Catholic Colleges were scheduled to present the “Vagina Monologues” play, which includes an approved reminiscence about a lesbian seduction of a 16-year-old girl.

High-placed Vatican officials have hinted recently that Pope Benedict is ready to act on the matter of Catholic colleges and their adherence to the faith. Earlier this month, the Vatican’s number two education official, Archbishop Michael Miller, secretary of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education, predicted that Pope Benedict XVI will follow a path of “evangelical pruning” of secularized Catholic colleges and universities, declaring them no longer Catholic. (see coverage: )

The full report was put online by the Australian Catholic News service, see:

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