Catholic University Under Fire for Honoring Pro-Abortion Judge

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 14, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic University Under Fire for Honoring Pro-Abortion Judge

by Paul Nowak, Steven Ertelt Staff Writer / Editor
April 14, 2004

Newark, NJ ( — Sandra Day O’Connor, a key pro-abortion Supreme Court justice, will present an award to a judge who struck down New Jersey’s partial birth abortion ban. The problem? The award ceremony will take place on Friday at New Jersey’s only Catholic college, Seton Hall University.

Judge Maryanne Trump Barry of the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals will receive the 12th annual "Sandra Day O’Connor Medal of Honor" award, named after and presented by the Associate Justice who was the key vote in striking down the partial-birth abortion laws of almost 30 states.

Although the Catholic Church teaches that life is to be protected from the moment of conception, Seton Hall University, part of the Archdiocese of Newark, does not appear to be concerned by honoring pro-abortion politicians.

"Seton Hall University has betrayed its Catholic heritage," Fr. Peter West of Priests for Life told "For this event to take place at a Catholic institution is a betrayal of the highest order."

West said both O’Connor and Barry have been involved in overturning partial-birth abortion bans.

"It is ironic that this is happening at the same time as trials are taking place, that are exposing the horrific pain an unborn child experiences during the partial-birth abortion procedure," Father West explained.

Trials have begun in three states to determine the constitutionality of the federal ban on the partial-birth abortion procedure.

Seton Hall University did not return calls from

Meanwhile, in an email delivered to, James Goodness, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Newark, said Archbishop Myers "is extremely upset by" the award.

"The Archdiocese was not notified of the Law school’s intent to present this award, nor were we involved in any way in the selection of any individual for an award," Goodness wrote.

"Catholic teaching recognizes that every life is sacred and deserving of protection under the law," Goodness added. "Catholic institutions of higher learning have a choice in whom they honor. It would be inappropriate and inconsistent for the Archdiocese to endorse the selection for special recognition of anyone who undermines the assurance of legal protections for the unborn."

So many pro-life Catholics have called the college to complain that Seton Hall has established a special hotline for calls related to the award.

This is not the first time Seton Hall has bestowed its award on a pro-abortion politician.

In 1998 pro-abortion Governor Christine Todd Whitman received the annual award, and thanked the University for including her among recipients who "demonstrated a strength of character and courage of their convictions." Whitman, who vetoed the state’s partial-birth abortion ban, also did not reflect the Catholic Church’s pro-life views.

"This offends common decency, that they would honor two people for keeping a procedure legal in which a child is partially born, and its brains are sucked out," said Fr. West.

The award is made possible by the Seton Hall Women’s Law Forum, the Seton Hall Law Review and the Seton Hall Legislative Bureau, and will take place at the Seton Hall School of Law. According to the University, the award "honors women who have distinguished themselves in the fields of law and public service."

ACTION: Contact Seton Hall University and the Archdiocese of Newark to voice your concerns:

Archbishop John Myers, 973-497-4190, [email protected]
Msgr. Robert Sheeran, 973-761-9620, [email protected]
Dean Patrick Hobbs, 973-642-8750, [email protected]

Seton Hall "Hotline" for complaints about the Sandra Day O’Connor Medal of Honor: 973-378-9856

Related Sites:
Seton Hall University –
Priests for Life –