CINCINNATI (ChurchMilitant.com) - At a Catholic university, students are dedicating a week to the celebration of contraception, abortion rights and sexual license.
At Xavier University (XU) in Cincinnati, Ohio, the College Democrats club hosted "Sex Week" starting on Monday, November 6. Of the four scheduled events, two of them were associated with the "Kiss My Pink" lipstick campaign by The Lipstick Lobby, an organization which raises funds for Planned Parenthood.
A YouTube video produced by XU students, titled "Kiss My Pink XU," began with this rhetorical question: "Did you know the university we pay $50,000 dollars a year to completely ignores one important part of our health by refusing to dispense any form of contraceptives on campus?"
One student in the controversial YouTube video said she was on birth control because of severe menstrual pains, and complained that Xavier made it hard for her to access hormonal contraceptive to minimize her symptoms. Angela Morabito of The Washington Examiner responded to this claim in an op-ed on Friday:
Catholic schools and hospitals are not in the business of keeping women sick. The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops explains, "Catholic teaching does not oppose the use of hormonal medications – such as those found in chemical contraceptives – for legitimate medical purposes, provided there is no contraceptive intent." If you play by the Church’s rules and really need birth control, Catholic institutions will help you out.
Futhermore, some of the menstrual conditions for which doctors prescribe "the pill" can also be addressed through other methods of treatment.
Another part of the video said that birth control makes users feel "safe" about not getting pregnant, whether from consensual sex or from rape.
"Rape is traumatic enough," one of the women says. "Pregnancy is the last thing I [should] need to worry about."
The video pointed out that less than 54 percent of the student body is Catholic. Then one young woman posed the question, "Shouldn't we be tolerant of all beliefs?"
A report in student publication The Xavier Newswire described the controversy surrounding the Sex Week events. The Newswire asked Xavier student Evan Ward, an active pro-lifer and a Catholic, for comment. Ward reportedly told them, "Even though the video pointed out that less than 54 percent of us are Catholic, it's still a Catholic institution regardless of the demographics. If we're going to call ourselves a Catholic university, we should act like a Catholic university."
The Newswire also reported that the College Democrats tried to reach out to the College Republicans club to organize some sort of collaboration or debate. The Republicans ignored the Democrats' request and explained on Twitter that the Lipstick Lobby "sells the lipstick 'Kiss my pink' and donates 100% of the profits to Planned Parenthood."
The controversial YouTube video promoting Sex Week slams Catholics for the virtue of chastity: "Abstinence education may have been working in your Catholic middle school, but it's not working here."
Xavier University does not mandate chastity programs or "abstinence education." It does, however, require incoming freshmen (called "first-years" to be gender-inclusive) to take the "Think About It" course. "Think About It" is an online program consisting of videos and quizzes addressing subjects like illegal drug use, alcohol poisioning and sexual assault.
"Think About It" normalizes homosexuality and advocates so-called "safe sex." In an FAQ near the beginning, the course uses Pope St. John Paul II's Theology of the Body as an excuse to discuss sex, hook-ups, contraception and homosexuality — even though it discusses these things from a purely secularist perspective that borders on being anti-religious.
The "Kiss My Pink XU" video called out the university's administrators: "You preach abortion is wrong. Why aren't you doing anything to prevent a woman from having to do that?"
Faithful Catholic students retort that they rarely hear the adminstration "preach abortion is wrong." The abortion issue might come up once a year in a homily at Sunday Mass in the university's Bellarmine Chapel; but even then, the Jesuits at the parish typically cast abortion as a symptom of poverty and unemployment, saying those are the real, underlying problems and must be fixed through legislation.
Some Catholics argue that handing out contraceptives does not effectively stop "unplanned" pregnancies and subsequent abortions. 1992's Planned Parenthood vs. Casey — the Supreme Court decision that reaffirmed 1973's Roe vs. Wade — cited the legality of contraception in defense of the legality of abortion. The document declares, "It should be recognized, moreover, that in some critical respects, the abortion decision is of the same character as the decision to use contraception."
But even if handing out condoms and pills were effective at stopping "unplanned" pregnancies, it would still be contrary to Church teaching, and Catholics believe that the end does not justify the means.
In 2012, XU president Fr. Michael J. Graham caused a hubbub when he announced an end to contraceptive coverage for employees. Father Graham, a Jesuit priest, soon reversed his decision after backlash from faculty.
Although Xavier has lost much of its Catholic identity, some of the university's donors are pushing to reclaim it. The Williams Family — the namesake of Xavier's "Williams College of Business" — is giving the university a building, Our Lady of Peace Chapel. The tiny chapel was built on the Williams family's property over 100 years ago. It is being moved piece by piece to the edge of Xavier's academic mall, a process set for completion in June 2018.
In the student body, faithful Catholics at Xavier are associated with Life After Sunday, a small student-run club that provides opportunities for prayer and sacraments every school week.