Bishops Back Out of Commencement Ceremonies
May 22, 2003
Following protests by Cardinal Newman Society, three bishops have canceled planned appearances at the commencement ceremonies of the College of the Holy Cross (MA), College Misericordia (PA) and the University of Scranton (PA).
Cardinal Newman Society has protested the selection of MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews to speak at both the University of Scranton and the College of the Holy Cross because of his abortion-rights position. In his television commentary and newspaper columns, Matthews has publicly
declared "I'm for abortion rights," even appearing to endorse partial-birth abortion for severely handicapped babies.
Bishop James Timlin of Scranton, Pennsylvania, will not attend the University of Scranton's commencement ceremony on Sunday, citing a policy of refusing to share a stage with public abortion-rights advocates. Bishop Daniel Reilly of Worcester, Massachusetts, announced yesterday that
he will not attend tomorrow's Holy Cross ceremony for the same reason.
"Holy Cross will confer an honorary degree on a Catholic person who publicly espouses the view that, in some cases, people have a right to terminate a life in the womb," Bishop Reilly said. "I cannot let my
presence imply support for anything less than the protection of all life at all its stages."
Alumni are protesting the selection of Matthews, led by the Holy Cross Cardinal Newman Society (www.hccns.org) and Charles Millard, who chaired the Holy Cross board of trustees from 1977-1982 and served another 22 years as a trustee. Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, editor of First Things
magazine and president of the Religion & Public Life Institute, also weighed in last month with a statement critical of the college.
Holy Cross president Rev. Michael McFarland, S.J., has responded to the protests by falsely claiming that Matthews' views are consistent with Catholic teaching.
Auxiliary Bishop John Dougherty of Scranton, an advisor to Cardinal Newman Society, did not attend College Misericordia's ceremony on Saturday because of concerns about the commencement speakers, journalists Cokie and Steven Roberts.
Although Cokie has written in the couple's syndicated column that she "tends to favor pro-life arguments," her husband, "who is Jewish, is more sympathetic to the pro-choice side" (May 25, 1997). Steve's writings portray both pro-life and radical feminist activists as extreme, whereas the "middle" or "moderate" position agrees "that a woman has a right to choose abortion, but the right is not unlimited" (U.S. News & World Report, April 12, 1993). The Roberts' joint column also has repeatedly echoed Steve's call for "moderation" on the abortion issue, endorsing restrictions on abortion but espousing abortion rights. The Roberts have labeled those who respect the dignity of all human life as extremists,
while labeling individuals like Christine Todd Whitman--who vetoed a ban on partial-birth abortion--as moderates.
The Cardinal Newman Society protest is part of its annual survey of commencement speakers whose public actions and statements are opposed to Catholic teaching. See www.cardinalnewmansociety.org for a complete list. The Society has teamed up with the American Life League (www.all.org),
which is also protesting pro-abortion commencement speakers as part of its "Crusade for the Defense of our Catholic Church."
Catholic Colleges Alter Websites That Sent Students to Planned Parenthood
December 10, 2002
FALLS CHURCH, VA -- Catholic universities that promote Planned Parenthood on their websites are feeling the heat of recent publicity and public outrage, with at least two of them quickly removing or hiding the offensive web pages following negative publicity.
Early this week, leaders of the Association of Students at Catholic Colleges (ASCC) and its parent organization, the national Cardinal Newman Society, complained that the websites of at least eight Catholic universities in the United States directed students to Planned Parenthood for information, services, and even employment. ASCC and the Cardinal Newman Society are dedicated to the renewal of Catholic identity in Catholic higher education.
LifeSite News (www.lifesite.net) and several pro-life organizations reported the scandal, which involves Boston College; DePaul University in Chicago; Georgetown University in Washington, D.C.; John Carroll University in Cleveland; Loyola University of Chicago; Santa Clara University; Seattle University; and the University of San Francisco. DePaul is a Vincentian university; the other seven are Jesuit institutions.
Where the University of San Francisco once posted a "Pregnancy" page (www.usfca.edu/shep/pregnancy.htm) linked to promotions for Planned Parenthood and the local Women's Community Clinic, the site now reads, "This portion of the web site is currently being reviewed." But although the links have been removed, the pages promoting Planned Parenthood and the Women's Community Clinic are still online at www.usfca.edu/shep/pregnancy_link2.htm and www.usfca.edu/shep/pregnancy_link1.htm. USF touts Planned Parenthood as a source for pregnancy testing and counseling, birth control, and emergency contraception (which causes early abortion), but it fails to mention Planned Parenthood's role as the nation's leading abortion provider. The Women's Community Clinic provides pregnancy testing and counseling and referrals to abortion clinics.
Georgetown University apparently removed a "sex health and safety" page from its website after LifeSite News reported that the page linked to a Planned Parenthood website, promoted the morning after pill (an abortifacient), and encouraged the use of sexual aids including dental dams and latex gloves for "safer sex." But the page, formerly at www.georgetown.edu/student-affairs/healthed/sex.htm, is still identified by the website's search engine. Georgetown's website continues to promote the use of condoms and dental dams on its "STDs/HIV" page (www.georgetown.edu/student-affairs/healthed/stdhiv.htm).
"The website changes are heartening, but they are just the beginning," said Thomas Harmon, ASCC President and a senior at Gonzaga University in Spokane, Washington. "We intend to ensure that all of these web links are removed from the universities' sites."
The websites are only the latest signs of Catholic universities' reluctance to implement Ex corde Ecclesiae, Pope John Paul II's 1990 apostolic constitution on Catholic higher education.
"In Ex Corde Ecclesiae, one of the requirements of a Catholic university is that all official actions and commitments must be in accord with the university's Catholic identity," said Patrick Reilly, President of the Cardinal Newman Society. "Anything that is announced or promoted by a university's website is an official action. By promoting Planned Parenthood or taking any step that might drive students toward Planned Parenthood for an abortion is not only a violation of Ex Corde Ecclesiae, but also a scandal and a terrible crime against young women."
In a Vatican address last Thursday, Pope John Paul II demanded that Catholic university administrators "be vigilant in maintaining rectitude and Catholic principles in teaching and research in the heart of their university. It is clear that university centers that do not respect the Church's laws and the teaching of the Magisterium, especially in bioethics, cannot be defined as Catholic universities."
"Catholic college students are leading the renewal of Catholic higher education," Harmon said. "ASCC's emphasis is on positive campus programs to teach and promote the Catholic faith, but when an outcry is needed, college administrators will hear us loud and clear."
Other websites protested by ASCC include: