Catholic World News News Feature

Catholic colleges defy bishops with graduation honors May 06, 2005

At least 13 American Catholic colleges and universities have defied the US bishops by inviting commencement speakers who defy Church teachings on key moral issues, the Cardinal Newman Society reports.

Last June the US bishops approved a policy barring Catholic institutions from conferring honors on public leaders who promote legal abortion, same-sex unions, fetal-tissue research, and other policies that involve grave violation of fundamental moral principles. The bishops proclaimed that public figures who support such policies "should not be given awards, honors, or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."

Nevertheless, a number of Catholic colleges and universities have made commencement plans that include awards for politicians and other public figures who support "the culture of death," the Cardinal Newman Society reveals. "We are blowing the whistle on any Catholic college or university that blatantly disrespects the bishops by defying their clear command teaching," said Patrick Reilly, the president of the Virginia-based group.

The Cardinal Newman Society is dedicated to the preservation of Catholic identity in America's Church-related colleges and universities. The group listed the 13 schools violating the bishops' policy. On its web site the Cardinal Newman Society listed contact information for each school, urging alumni and other concerned Catholics to contact university officials and register their objections.

  1. At Cabrini College in Pennsylvania, the commencement speaker (and recipient of an honorary degree) will be Helen Thomas, a White House correspondent whose columns have regularly defended legal abortion and embryonic tissue research.
  2. At the College of New Rochelle in New York, an honorary degree will be conferred on actress Cicely Tyson, a public advocate for Planned Parenthood abortion and contraceptive services.
  3. At Dominican University of California, the commencement speaker (and recipient of an honorary degree) will be former Los Angeles Mayor Richard Riordan, a supporter of state-funded abortion and legal recognition of same-sex unions.
  4. At Edgewood College in Wisconsin, the commencement speaker (and recipient of an honorary degree) will be Judge Paul Higginbotham, who ran for his court seat on a platform promising to "deal with" legal restrictions on abortion.
  5. At LeMoyne College in New York, the commencement speakers (and recipients of honorary degrees) will be Peter Steinfels and Margaret O'Brien Steinfels, formerly of the New York Times and Commonweal, respectively. Both have expressed public dissent from Church teachings on contraception and the ordination of women.
  6. At Loyola College in Maryland, the commencement speaker (and recipient of an honorary degree) will be former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, an advocate of unrestricted abortion and homosexual rights.
  7. At Loyola University of New Orleans in Louisiana, an honorary degree will be presented to the entire family of former Mayor Moon Landrieu, including Senator Mary Landrieu, who has voted in the US Senate against bills to ban partial-birth abortion.
  8. At Marquette University in Wisconsin, the commencement speaker (and recipient of an honorary degree) will be television journalist Cokie Roberts, who has called for "moderation" on abortion and described the federal ban on partial-birth abortion as "cynical games-playing." Roberts reacted to the election of Pope Benedict XVI by telling a television audience that the new Pontiff is "really lacking in the theological virtue of charity."
  9. At Regis College in Massachusetts, the commencement speaker (and recipient of an honorary degree) will be Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, who chairs the MacArthur Foundation, a leading contributor to abortion advocacy groups.
  10. At St. Bonaventure University in New York, an honorary degree will be awarded to Rep. Amory Houghton, who had been recognized by abortion lobbyists as "a consistent vote for choice."
  11. At St. Xavier University in Illinois, the commencement speaker will be Sister Margaret Farley, a Yale ethicist and outspoken dissenter from Church teachings, who joined "Catholics for a Free Choice" in a 1984 publicity campaign in favor of legal abortion.
  12. At Seattle University in Washington, the commencement speaker (and recipient of an honorary degree) will be former Governor Gary Locke, a consistent support of legal abortion and same-sex unions.
  13. At Villanova University in Pennsylvania, the commencement speaker (and recipient of an honorary degree) will be Ireland's President Mary McAleese, who once said of the Church's teaching on ordination: "If I I truly believed that Christ was the authority for the proposition that women are to be excluded from priesthood by virtue simply of their gender, I would have to say emphatically that this is a Christ in whose divinity I do not and will not and cannot believe.” Also at Villanova, an honorary degree will be awarded to Sister Elizabeth Johnson, who described the Church's teaching on the same issue as "patriarchal resistance to women's equality."