Catholic Colleges an Abortion Battleground Following Communion Decision

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Jun 27, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Colleges an Abortion Battleground Following Communion Decision

by Steven Ertelt Editor
June 27, 2004

Washington, DC ( — The nation’s Catholic leaders recently released a statement calling on individual bishops to make their own decision whether to allow pro-abortion politicians receive communion. However, the document also called for Catholic colleges and universities not to give a platform to elected officials who back abortion.

That means such institutions of higher learning cannot bestow honorary degrees on Catholic politicians who back abortion, nor can they be invited to give commencement addresses.

Now, pro-life Catholics are looking to the 223 Catholic colleges to comply. Most Catholic universities already have such bans in place, while others do not.

Seton Hall University came under fire in April when it gave an award to Judge Maryanne Trump Barry of the 3rd Circuit U.S. Court of Appeals, who issued a ruling overturning New Jersey’s ban on partial-birth abortions.

The University of St. Mary, in Kansas, drew opposition when it invited pro-abortion Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius to speak at an event honoring Abraham Lincoln. Archbishop James Keleher of the Diocese of Kansas City rebuked the school.

Meanwhile, Massachusetts senator John Kerry, the likely Democratic presidential nominee who backs abortion, spoke recently at Georgetown University forum.

Kerry does not have any further speaking engagements planned, though Notre Dame University traditionally invites the nominees of both major political parties to participate in election forums.

Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, a watchdog group that monitors Catholic colleges, said he was pleased with the bishops’ statement regarding universities.

"Never has it in any formal way been addressed by the bishops as a whole," Reilly told the Associated Press.

This year, the group listed 19 Catholic schools that chose "inappropriate speakers" for commencement addresses.

"When Catholic institutions honor well-known abortion advocates like Barbara Boxer and Chuck Schumer, they are being openly subversive," Reilly told "Not only are they scandalizing students and impeding the Church’s aggressive efforts to end legalized abortion, but they are flaunting their nonconformity in a very public way."

Reilly says the colleges often excuse themselves by saying they are honoring the speakers for their other achievements.

That doesn’t fly, he told, pointing to a small Catholic college in San Francisco, Campion College — which featured the city’s lone pro-life supervisor, Tony Hall, at its first commencement May 15.

This is the sixth year the Cardinal Newman Society has highlighted pro-abortion commencement speakers and each year about 20 Catholic colleges are on the list, Reilly said.

In their statement, the nation’s Catholic bishops agreed that politicians who support devaluing human life through abortion of embryonic stem cell research should not be given a platform for their views through the Catholic Church.

"Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles," the bishops said. "They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."

The statement, called "Catholics in Political Life," was adopted by a vote of 183-6.

Related web sites:
Catholic Bishop’s statement on withholding communion –