Anti-Catholic Speakers at Catholic Colleges?

News: Education
by Bradley Eli, M.Div., Ma.Th.  •  •  April 29, 2016   

USCCB: Catholic institutions shouldn't honor opponents of Catholic teaching

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DETROIT ( - Catholic colleges are honoring public opponents of Catholic teaching at their commencement exercises this spring in defiance of Church mandates.

No fewer than 10 Catholic institutes have announced their choice of scandalous commencement speakers and honorees, according to a report by the Cardinal Newman Society. This number will most likely increase, as many Catholic colleges have yet to make known their selection of speakers and those slated to receive honorary degrees.

Catholic institutes that give a platform or honor to such anti-Catholic individuals are in defiance of norms transmitted by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). In 2004, the USCCB published the document "Catholics in Political Life," which mandated, "The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."

But many Catholic Colleges are violating this norm. DePaul University plans to honor Marty Castro, a major proponent of so called same-sex marriage. Gonzaga University Law School is honoring Bob Ferguson, who is also a strong supporter of same-sex marriage. LaRoche College has chosen pro-abortion Mark Shriver as their commencement speaker. Loyola Marymount University is hosting pro-abortion former president Bill Clinton. Merrimack College will give a platform to pro-abortion and same-sex marriage-supporter Charlie Baker in its commencement exercises. Regis College will grant an honorary doctorate of law to Sr. Simone Campbell, S.S.S., known for her support of so-called "women priests." Regis College will also be giving an honorary doctorate of science to Dr. Paul Farmer, who promotes contraception. Saint Mary's College of California has lined up pro-same-sex marriage Tom Torlakson as its commencement speaker. Seattle University will also be hosting pro-abortion and pro-contraception Mark Shriver as its speaker. Xavier University of Louisiana has tapped pro-abortion and pro-contraception Dr. Helene Gayle to offer its commencement speech. The University of Notre Dame will be honoring pro-abortion and same-sex marriage advocate Joe Biden with the coveted Laetare Medal, the school's highest award, at its commencement ceremony May 15.

As reported last month, Bp. Kevin Rhoades of Fort Wayne-South Bend decried Notre Dame's choice.

I believe it is wrong for Notre Dame to honor any pro-choice public official with the Laetare Medal, even if he/she has other positive accomplishments in public service. ... I also question the propriety of honoring a public official who was a major spokesman for the redefinition of marriage.

Earlier this month, as reported by, Notre Dame hosted pro-abortion activist Wendy Davis. During her talk on campus, Davis discussed how abortion is necessary for the advancement of women, and additionally praised Planned Parenthood.

Last week the president of Planned Parenthood, Cecile Richards, was given a platform to speak at Georgetown University, the nation's oldest Catholic university. Reed Howard, a junior who attended the talk, said Richards wasn't sufficiently challenged during the question and answer period. Howard commented, "I don't think that today's event represented a free exchange of ideas or a spirit of dialogue. Instead, Cecile Richards was given a platform to spew her beliefs unchallenged.”

Track the demise of Catholic education and what we can do to help turn things around by watching "Mic'd Up—Catholic School Daze."


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