Catholic Pro-Life Leaders Urge Colleges To Defend Catholic Identity

Participants in the Notre Dame Graduation ceremony pass anti-abortion activists on the way to commencement on the campus of Notre Dame University on May 17, 2009 in South Bend, Indiana.
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The Cardinal Newman Society is promoting a statement signed by 29 Catholic and pro-life leaders calling on Catholic colleges to “stand firm in defending truth and the Catholic identity of their institutions.”

The statement comes in the wake of invited addresses by pro-abortion leaders such as Planned Parenthood CEO Cecile Richards, former President Bill Clinton, former Texas state Sen. Wendy Davis, and Vice President Joe Biden to Catholic colleges such as Georgetown University, Loyola Marymount University, and the University of Notre Dame.

The leaders urge Catholic colleges to teach and uphold “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.” They add that “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…”

The statement’s signers continue that there can be no “academic freedom” when speakers present a single viewpoint that is an “advocacy for evil.”

“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,” the leaders conclude.

Father Frank Pavone, national director of Priests for Life, who signed the statement, said:

Pro-abortion politicians not only violate Catholic faith and Christian teaching, but also the very meaning and purpose of public service and government. Catholic universities should avoid these scandals not only because it contradicts Catholic teaching but contradicts humanity. To have academic discussions about terrorism, do we give places of honor to terrorists? Of course not. Nor should we do so for those who permit abortion.

In a recent editorial, the Cardinal Newman Society explained the importance for students at Catholic colleges to experience a full commitment to the faith:

Catholic colleges compromise their Catholic identity and potentially harm the spiritual well-being of their students when they give honors and platforms to those whose public statements and actions may cause scandal. College administrators send a message to the public that worldly success and popular opinion are more important to their institutions than fidelity to Christ and His Church. And they send a message to students that it’s acceptable and even praiseworthy to unrepentantly oppose the Church’s moral teachings.

Because the Church identifies certain actions as gravely sinful and intrinsically evil, it’s appropriate that emphasis be given to scrutinizing speakers’ and honorees’ support for such activity, including legal protections and public funding. It’s also appropriate to deny the honor of inviting these individuals to have prominent platforms and lecture students, given the serious consequences of scandal or sowing confusion about moral behavior.

The Cardinal 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.