Why are These Catholic Universities Letting Pro-Abortion Politicians Give Commencement?

National   |   Rebecca Downs   |   May 11, 2015   |   3:57PM   |   Washington, DC

As The Cardinal Newman Society has been monitoring for years, through Catholic Education Daily, there are Catholic universities and colleges, which despite their Catholic identity, have had pro-abortion speakers, or have awarded such persons with honorary degrees.

Further problematic, is that, such universities and colleges would honor such persons when Catholic Education Daily points out that in 2004, the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) put forth a document, Catholics in Political Life, which stipulates that such persons who are in public violation of church teachings should not be honored in such a way.

Just this past Saturday, on May 9, Xavier University of Louisiana gave honors to former Senator Mary Landrieu and former Attorney General Eric Holder. Landrieu was defeated in a run-off election by pro-lifer Bill Cassidy, who was endorsed by National Right to Life Committee. Landrieu claims to be Catholic, and yet has a 0 percent rating from NRLC. Despite this record, the university’s website referred to Landrieu as “…one of the most moderate Democrats in the Senate, often opposing her own party’s positions.”

The university also honored former Attorney General Eric Holder, appointed by pro-abortion Barack Obama. Holder is known for his own pro-abortion politics. His wife and sister-in-law co-own a building also used by abortionist Tyrone Cecil Malloy, who was accused of Medicaid fraud and killing a patient in a botched abortion, and has been reprimanded twice. Holder has also shown bias, with failing to bring suit against abortionists, and his lack of familiarity with the Born Alive Infant Protection Act, while targeting peaceful pro-life protesters. One specific case was not only blocked, but Holder was forced to pay legal fees.

Next Saturday, College of Our Lady of the Elms is hosting Congressman John Lewis (D-GA) as their commencement speaker, for his “personal and political focus on civil rights.” It is worth noting that the Congressman does not believe such rights extend to the preborn, as he has had a 100 percent record with NARAL Pro-Choice America. He was also the co-sponsor of the extreme and misleading Women’s Health Protection Act, which would have sought to rollback nearly all pro-life legislative efforts nationwide.



Another problematic speaker for next Saturday includes Lieutenant Governor for New York and former Congressman Kathy Hochul at Hilbert College. In addition to being part of the heavily pro-abortion Cuomo administration, Hochul received the full endorsement of NARAL Pro-Choice New York, and had a 100 percent voting record with NARAL Pro-Choice America. She was also endorsed by another pro-abortion group, EMILY’S List.

One big university, which has had trouble in the past by allowing pro-abortion Secretary of Health and Human Services, Kathleen Sebelius to speak at commencement, is Georgetown University. Catholic Education Daily points out that commencement next Saturday will feature and award an honorary degree to United Nations Secretary General Ban-Ki moon at the School of Foreign Service, who has advocated for universal access to contraception and abortion as a human right. And it’s not just Elms College hosting Congressman Lewis. He will also be speaking at Georgetown’s McCourt School of Public Policy, and has spoken at Georgetown before.

At Saint Joseph’s University next Saturday, commencement speaker Mayor Michael Nutter will receive an undergraduate honorary degree. His 2011 campaign included “the Freedom Condom,” advocating for free condoms, with the design chosen by voters online. He also dared to claim that his city of Philadelphia was a safe place for women to go to for “legitimate, safe services for whatever,” while not brave enough to refer to such “services” by their true name of abortion, in response to the Kermit Gosnell murder trial. The abortionist and convicted murderer operated in the mayor’s city.

At Sacred Heart University, former Senator Majority Leader George Mitchell will give the commencement address and be awarded with an honorary Doctor of Laws degree next Sunday. Mitchell referred to the 1992 Supreme Court Case of Planned Parenthood v. Casey as resting “on assumptions about women’s decision-making power that are more suited to the 19th Century than to the present day.” Mitchell was also a sponsor of the Freedom of Choice Act, which would have required state and federal laws to permanently codify abortion protections under Roe v. Wade.


For the commencement ceremonies to be taking place at Saint Mary’s College of California, during the weekend of May 22-24, one such speaker is Chris Matthews, the host of MSNBC’s Hardball with Chris Matthews. This is a particularly odd choice, as Matthews and his program frequently take positions conflicting with Catholicism, including on the life issue. As just a few examples, Matthews has compared pro-life laws to Jim Crow laws, pro-life views to Sharia law, and even claimed that pro-lifers use “terrorist” methods.

Catholic places of higher learning can—and ought to be—places for growth and renewal, particularly of the faith. These speakers either do not understand the Catholic faith enough to be honored at such a place, or, arguably worse, distort the faith they claim to espouse. Regardless, these institutions have no place in giving such persons any sort of platform. It is not only that it is so bad for confusion to form, but rather that the faithful are confused into believing that the church would stand for these so very counter intuitive beliefs when it comes to the most sacred right to life.