At a time when Christianity is being attacked by secularists within the United States, Catholic college students are often seeing their faith misrepresented and abused on college campuses.
“Yes, we are fighting an uphill battle,” Joseph Shaneyfelt, a senior at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas, said, according to the Cardinal Newman Society. “In a time when political correctness and fear of ‘offending’ people is running rampant on college campuses across the United States, we need to be first and foremost, adamant in saying we are Catholic.”
Shaneyfelt and dozens of other Catholic college and high school students gathered together recently at a “Standing Up For Faith & Freedom” seminar hosted by Young America’s Foundation (YAF).
“Students at Catholic schools are often surprised to discover the opposition they face on campus to their conservative values,” YAF noted in its program for the event. Some colleges “twist the concept of ‘social justice’ to advance a radical agenda that includes income redistribution, government control of health care, radical environmentalism, and special ‘rights’ based on race and ever-expanding sexual classifications,” states YAF.
The Cardinal Newman Society – which serves to promote and defend Catholic education – reports:
A majority of the students attending the seminar came from colleges that were experiencing their own Catholic identity concerns. Two students each from the University of Notre Dame, Gonzaga University, Loyola University Chicago (LUC) and Saint Louis University, as well as many students from Catholic high schools were present and shared their own experiences.
“I was shocked and disgusted by what I saw [on campus],” said one LUC student.
“I have friends at Fordham and Boston College and Georgetown where Catholic identity is barely in the background,” Notre Dame student Mimi Teixeria told the Newman Society. “Being a millennial and a Catholic should not be in opposition; they are not in opposition.”
“Faith is really important to many students at Notre Dame,” freshman Matthew Connell said. “That being said, I think the administration is making decisions that are diminishing the Catholic identity step by step.”
The gathering took place in the wake of an invited address at Jesuit-led Georgetown University by abortion business Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards.
Despite an uproar from pro-life groups on campus and the Newman Society’s petition to urge the university to rescind its invitation to Richards, the school said regarding her visit:
We respect our students’ right to express their personal views and are committed to sustaining a forum for the free exchange of ideas, even when those ideas may be difficult, controversial or objectionable to some. Georgetown University’s long-standing Speech and Expression policy governs the university’s response to controversial speech.
Nevertheless, the Newman Society observes that when two Jesuit professors at Georgetown urged the presence of a pro-life speaker on the stage with Richards to facilitate the “free exchange of ideas,” both were reportedly rejected by the organizers of the event.
“It’s wounding to me that students in a Jesuit school would reject the good counsel of two senior Jesuit professors,” theology professor Father Stephen Fields, S.J., told the Newman Society. “We had a plan to promote the FULL free exchange of ideas, and so heal a deep rift on our campus. It pains me that the Lecture Fund seems to have put its own career plans over our community’s integrity.”
Not to be outdone, Notre Dame’s Progressive Student Alliance and College Democrats sponsored a talk at their Catholic university by former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, who rose to rock-star status in the liberal media in 2013 when she filibustered a ban on abortions past the fifth month of pregnancy as well as new required safety regulations for abortion clinics. Davis was cheered on by Richards and the abortion lobby and its supporters.
Notre Dame – which honored pro-abortion President Barack Obama seven years ago with an honorary degree and the opportunity to deliver the commencement address – now plans to honor pro-abortion Vice President Joe Biden by awarding him the university’s prestigious Laetare Medal at this year’s commencement on May 15. Former House Speaker John Boehner will also be awarded the Laetare Medal. Though Boehner claims to be pro-life, under his leadership in the House, Planned Parenthood was consistently funded.
Notre Dame president Father John Jenkins said, regarding the decision to confer the awards on Biden and Boehner, “We live in a toxic political environment where poisonous invective and partisan gamesmanship pass for political leadership.”
“Public confidence in government is at historic lows, and cynicism is high,” Jenkins continued. “It is a good time to remind ourselves what lives dedicated to genuine public service in politics look like. We find it in the lives of Vice President Biden and Speaker Boehner.”
During a recent episode of EWTN’s Franciscan University Presents focused on the Catholic University as Witness, Newman Society president Patrick Reilly urged Catholic parents to strongly consider Catholic institutions for their children, but to also carefully consider a true Catholic education that upholds the faith. [VIDEO]
“I just strongly encourage parents – Catholic families – to really take a close look at Catholic education and to consider it the priority,” Reilly said, noting that Cardinal Newman believed “a secular education is not properly a full education because it dismisses the faith – it dismisses a whole segment of truth that’s foundational to everything else.”
“The challenges are much greater today to the faith, and very often what you’re doing is sending a good son or daughter off to evangelize at these institutions, and paying a heck of a lot of money for them to go there and do that, without getting the education that they deserve,” Reilly added. “We want them to get that formation at Catholic schools.”
The Newman Society urges Catholic parents to take advantage of the Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, in which the Society makes recommendations of Catholic colleges and universities that are committed to a faithful Catholic education.