Catholic Colleges, Notre Dame, Honoring Abortion Advocates

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 27, 2012   |   11:55AM   |   Washington, DC

It’s graduation time at colleges and universities across the country, and that means more Catholic colleges are running afoul of an admonition from the nation’s Catholic bishops to not give a platform to abortion advocates and those who violate Catholic pro-life teachings.

Patrick Reilly, the president of the Cardinal Newman Society, a Catholic educational watchdog group, says the same old story is playing out again this year as more Catholic colleges undermine the pro-life teachings of the Catholic Church.

“The University of Notre Dame has invited Dr. Thomas Quinn–who facilitates family planning and condom distribution projects at the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health–to deliver a commencement address next month,” he explained. “Moreover, Quinn will be honored as Notre Dame’s Distinguished Alumnus for 2012, apparently in violation of the U.S. bishops’ ban on such honors — and just when our bishops are fighting the Obama administration to preserve Catholic universities’ right to uphold Catholic teaching on contraceptives.”

CNS says, “Notre Dame’s selection of Thomas Quinn to be honored as Distinguished Alumnus and to speak at the Graduate School commencement ceremony similarly raises concerns about the University’s commitment to Catholic teaching on contraception, and it appears to violate the U.S. bishops’ 2004 policy banning Catholic honors and platforms for opponents of Catholic moral teaching.”

“That policy was the basis for protests in 2009 against Notre Dame’s selection of President Barack Obama as commencement speaker and honoree.  Opponents included 83 bishops who publicly criticized the University and more than 367,000 individuals who signed a Cardinal Newman Society petition,” it added.

The Cardinal Newman Society reported last month that Saint Joseph College in Connecticut is bestowing an honorary degree on its pro-abortion governor. Meanwhile, Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu will speak and be honored at Gonzaga University’s commencement–despite his support for abortion.



Newman says these violations of pro-life teachings are bad but said Catholics are taking a stand and the number of commencement scandals at Catholic colleges declined from 24 in 2006 to 14 last year.

“There are growing signs of renewal in the Church,” Reilly said and he cited the example of Bishop Robert McManus’ demand that Anna Maria College withdraw the invitation to its first choice for commencement speaker.

Bishop McManus said he wanted to “send out a clarion call to our Catholic colleges about refocusing on their Catholic identity and mission.”

“The dissidents on Catholic campuses know their hold on Catholic education is slipping,” he said. “As evidenced by The Cardinal Newman Society’s reports, the bishops and the lay faithful are watching and expecting fidelity from their Catholic colleges. Nothing less than the highest standards of Catholic identity will do.”