Concerned by recent high-profile events at Catholic colleges featuring pro-abortion leaders — including Planned Parenthood’s Cecile Richards, Bill Clinton, Wendy Davis and Vice President Joe Biden — 31 Catholic and pro-life leaders joined a statement urging Catholic colleges to “stand firm in defending truth and the Catholic identity of their institutions.”
The statement, released today by The Cardinal Newman Society, argues that such events betray the mission of Catholic education and endanger the spiritual well-being of students.
“We urge the leaders of Catholic colleges and universities to reject the culture of death” and refuse “to honor and award speaking platforms to public advocates of abortion and same-sex marriage,” the signers of the letter stated.
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“There is no sensible appeal to ‘freedom of speech’ or ‘academic freedom’ to justify university-sponsored events or activities that hold up opponents of known moral truths for special honor, as if falsehood and immorality are to be celebrated and not firmly rejected,” the letter states.
Noting that “special honor” by a college can include awards, honorary degrees, commencement speeches and invitations to deliver prominent lectures, the signers of the letter assert, “[T]here is no ‘freedom’ in presenting lectures that include one-sided advocacy for evil; the university’s free choice to present such lectures has the consequence of binding young people in the chains of falsehood and sin.”
Citing Ex corde Ecclesiae, the Vatican constitution on Catholic colleges, the letter reminds Catholic colleges of their responsibility to teach truth and to conduct all official actions in accord with their Catholic identity:
We, the undersigned, urge Catholic colleges and universities to “consecrate [their selves] without reserve to the cause of truth” by teaching and upholding the sacred dignity of all human life and of the divinely ordered institution of marriage … The truths of the Catholic faith—and indeed, all human experience—are also clear: innocent human life must be protected, and the institution of marriage between man and woman is essential for children, family, and community.
The full text of the letter follows, along with the names of those who signed in support of the statement:
Committed to the Truth of Life and Marriage
An Appeal by Catholic and Pro-Life Leaders to Catholic Educators
We, the undersigned, urge Catholic colleges and universities to “consecrate [their selves] without reserve to the cause of truth” (Ex corde Ecclesiae, 4) by teaching and upholding the sacred dignity of all human life and of the divinely ordered institution of marriage, and by refusing to honor and award speaking platforms to public advocates of abortion and same-sex marriage.
Most recently, we are gravely concerned by scandals at three Catholic universities:
- Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., hosted a prominent campus lecture on April 20 by Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards, who has presided over an appalling enterprise that killed more than 2.8 million babies by abortion during her tenure and has admitted to then selling the parts of aborted children. She advocated for abortion, contraception, and sterilization during her lecture to students.
- The University of Notre Dame in Notre Dame, Ind., hosted a lecture by former Texas State Senator Wendy Davis, a champion of abortion who is known for her 2013 filibuster of pro-life legislation. Davis advocated abortion and even defended the abortion of her own child during her lecture to students, which was held on April 4, the Feast of the Annunciation.
- The University of Notre Dame also has chosen to honor Vice President Joe Biden—who has supported both legal abortion and same-sex marriage—with its Laetare Medal for exemplary Catholics. It will be awarded at the University’s commencement ceremony on May 15, reminiscent of the scandalous honor for President Barack Obama in 2009.
- Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles, Calif., selected as its spring commencement speaker former President Bill Clinton, who also received an honorary degree. He protected partial-birth abortion while President and has advocated same-sex marriage in recent years. He is also in the midst of an active presidential campaign for his wife Hillary, a vociferous advocate for both abortion and same-sex marriage, who was prominent at the commencement ceremony on May 7.
The Church’s expectations for Catholic education are clear: “A Catholic University’s privileged task is ‘to unite existentially by intellectual effort two orders of reality that too frequently tend to be placed in opposition as though they were antithetical: the search for truth, and the certainty of already knowing the fount of truth.’ …Any official action or commitment of the University is to be in accord with its Catholic identity” (Ex corde Ecclesiae, 1; General Norms, Art. 2, §4).
The truths of the Catholic faith—and indeed, all human experience—are also clear: innocent human life must be protected, and the institution of marriage between man and woman is essential for children, family, and community.
There is no sensible appeal to “freedom of speech” or “academic freedom” to justify university-sponsored events or activities that hold up opponents of known moral truths for special honor, as if falsehood and immorality are to be celebrated and not firmly rejected. (Such honors include awards, honorary degrees, commencement speeches, and invitations to deliver prominent lectures.) Moreover, there is no“freedom” in presenting lectures that include one-sided advocacy for evil; the university’s free choice to present such lectures has the consequence of binding young people in the chains of falsehood and sin.
We urge the leaders of Catholic colleges and universities to reject the culture of death and instead stand firm in defending truth and the Catholic identity of their institutions.
[NOTE: The following sign in their individual capacities. Titles and affiliations are provided for identification only.]
Matt C. Abbott (added 5/12/16)
Catholic commentator, RenewAmerica.com
Father Shenan J. Boquet
President, Human Life International
L. Brent Bozell, III
President, Media Research Center
President and Chief Counsel, Thomas More Society
President, National Organization for Marriage
President and co-founder, American Life League
Dr. E. Christian Brugger
J. Francis Cardinal Stafford Professor of Moral Theology, St. John Vianney Theological Seminary
Executive Director, National Association of Private Catholic and Independent Schools
Mary Rice Hasson
Fellow, Ethics and Public Policy Center
President, Students for Life of America
Founder, And Then There Were None
Jennifer Kimball Watson
Director, Culture of Life Foundation
Stephen M. Krason, J.D., Ph.D.
President, Society of Catholic Social Scientists
Philip F. Lawler
Editor, Catholic World News
Maria McFadden Maffucci
Editor, Human Life Review
Jeanne F. Mancini
President, March for Life Education and Defense Fund
Mother Agnes Mary, S.V. (added 5/12/16)
Superior General, Sisters of Life
Jennifer Roback Morse, Ph.D.
Founder and President, The Ruth Institute
Nikolas T. Nikas
President and General Counsel, Bioethics Defense Fund
President and CEO, Healing the Culture
Father Frank Pavone
National Director, Priests for Life
Patrick J. Reilly
President, The Cardinal Newman Society
Steven Jonathan Rummelsburg
Senior Fellow, American Principles Project
President, Center for Family and Human Rights (C-FAM)
Andrew T. Seeley, Ph.D.
Executive Director, Institute for Catholic Liberal Education
President, Catholic Advocate
Executive Director, Human Life Alliance
Executive Director, Children of God for Life
President, Ethics and Public Policy Center
Eugene J. Zurlo, KCHS
Chairman Emeritus, Catholic Radio Association