Thursday, February 11, 2016

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Catholic Education Daily

Catholic Education Daily Articles

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty
Rep. Lipinski: Get Rid of Anti-Catholic Blaine Amendments
2/8/2016
Catholic schools advocate and co-chair of the bipartisan Congressional Pro-Life Caucus Rep. Daniel Lipinski (D-Ill.) recently introduced a House resolution honoring the outstanding work of Catholic schools across the country, and told The Cardinal Newman Society that he supports getting rid of the discriminatory Blaine Amendments found in many state constitutions that keep families from using public funds to choose a Catholic education.

“I certainly think the Blaine Amendments historically were anti-Catholic amendments. Certainly the namesake, Blaine, was back in the late 19th century playing on nativist sentiments and anti-Catholic sentiments in the country, and I think it would be good to get rid of these amendments on the state level,” Lipinksi told the Newman Society.

“We should not be discriminating against any kind of institution based on their faith, on their religion and on their religious practices,” and getting rid of the Blaine Amendments would certainly help to ensure that, he said. “I love Catholic schools. I loved my experience, and I will do anything I can to help them out,” he later added.


State Catholic Conferences Push Legislators to Prioritize School Choice Programs
2/4/2016
Representatives of several state Catholic conferences, which communicate the public policy interests of the bishops, recently told The Cardinal Newman Society that Catholic schools rely heavily on supportive school choice programs that enable families to choose a Catholic education for their children, but this support is lacking in many states where school choice is not prioritized or is outright battled due to anti-Catholic legislation.

In states where school choice programs are readily available, enrollment in Catholic schools is thriving, based on comments from state Catholic conference representatives. In other states — crippled by legislatures that prohibit government aid to private schools — Catholic school closures are at an all-time high, parents face the financial difficulty of paying public school taxes and private school tuition, and families are overall less able to choose schools that will academically and morally form their children.


Loyola Chicago Faculty Union Debates Escalate, Students Question University’s Social Justice Commitment
1/29/2016
During the same week that faculty elected to form a union under the unconstitutional oversight of the National Relations Labor Board (NLBR), Loyola University of Chicago sanctioned its student government for a demonstration in favor of higher wages for unionized workers, again calling into question how Catholic colleges should handle issues of unionization and social justice.

“One of the common refrains of the protesters and their supporters is that the administration’s actions are hypocritical. The four students say they are being punished for following the very social justice values the university taught them in the first place,” In These Timesreported.


Discriminatory Blaine Amendment Used Against Education Savings Accounts in Nevada
1/28/2016
Not long after Nevada created the nation’s first nearly universal education savings account (ESA) program for students last year, two lawsuits were filed to block the program that relied on discriminatory, historically anti-Catholic, provisions in the state constitution. Now the program is on hold following a temporary injunction issued this month by a Nevada district court in one of the cases.

Carson City, Nev., District Judge James Wilson ruled on January 11 that the program “would cause irreparable harm to students in Nevada” by taking public funds out of the current public school system structure to create a “non-uniform system of schools.”

The case, Lopez v.Schwartzwas filed by the Education Law Center (ELC) in September on behalf of several parents. ELC argued that the program violated several provisions of the Nevada constitution, including Article 11, Section 2, which states in part that “any school district which shall allow instruction of a sectarian character therein may be deprived of its proportion of the interest of the public school fund.”


First Catholic College Successful Against NLRB Oversight of Faculty
1/28/2016
Last week, Carroll College in Helena, Mont., became the first Catholic college to win a favorable ruling against the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) since its new standard of evaluating the religious function of faculty was implemented, in part thanks to language found in the College handbook about discharging faculty for “disrespect or disregard” for the Catholic mission of the College.

“Carroll has always been and will continue to embrace and be guided by our mission,” Carroll President Dr. Tom Evans told The Cardinal Newman Society in an interview, noting the College’s favorable ruling. “It has been a valuable process for the college to undertake. As an institution, we have benefited from the experience. Collectively, we now have a much clearer understanding of our policies, procedures and shared governance structure.”


Catholic Colleges Should Claim Title IX Exemptions, Says Newman Society President
1/27/2016
As Title IX interpretations have expanded to include discrimination policies grounded in gender theory, Catholic colleges should have no qualms about claiming constitutionally-protected exemptions, said The Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly in an interview with National Catholic Register.

“Of course these colleges have no interest in sex discrimination. They have had no problems complying with Title IX,” said Reilly. “But now things are changing, and the Obama administration is pushing the extreme gender ideology that Pope Francis has strongly warned against. The law could be used to force practices that violate our beliefs and even natural law, unless religious educators claim the exemption that Congress gave them to uphold the First Amendment.”


SCOTUS Agrees to Hear Missouri Blaine Amendment Case
1/20/2016
A case challenging a discriminatory Blaine Amendment in Missouri’s state constitution will go before the U.S. Supreme Court this year, the Court announced last week, to decide if the state can rely on the historically anti-Catholic constitutional provision in its denial of a grant to a Christian preschool meant to aid in resurfacing the playground with recycled tires.

“No state can define religious neutrality as treating religious organizations worse than everyone else,” said Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Senior Counsel David Cortman in a statement about the Court’s decision to hear the case, Trinity Lutheran Church of Columbia v. Pauley, during its January 15 conference.

“That isn’t neutrality; it’s a hostility to religion that violates the First Amendment,” he continued. “That’s the primary issue that the Supreme Court will address. In this case, the state should not have excluded this preschool from the recycled tire program simply because a church operates the school.”


Catholic Education Before the Texas Bar
1/20/2016
In the fall of 2015, the Catholic Lawyers Guild and the Christian Legal Society of San Antonio, Texas, persuaded St. Mary’s University School of Law to conduct the first-ever Christian Legal Perspectives seminar for attorneys in the San Antonio area. Our goal was modest and seemingly noncontroversial: to reinforce the need to consider the moral and religious implications inherent in their legal practices in the 30 or so Texas attorneys who might attend (I also invited the 50 law students in my Catholic Legal Perspectives class).

For example, we thought it important to remind attorneys who are asked to handle divorce cases that our religious view of the sanctity of marriage might result in attorneys referring potential divorce clients to faith-based counseling that might preserve the marriage. We hoped to reach a modest audience on a one-time basis on a Friday afternoon in October. God, however, apparently had broader plans.


State Bar of Texas Says Discriminatory Ruling Against Christian Law Program a ‘Miscommunication’
1/14/2016
Following charges of “religious discrimination” by the Texas Governor’s office, a State Bar of Texas committee that denied credit for a continuing legal education (CLE) program in Christian legal ethics hosted by St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio issued a statement this week regretting the “miscommunication” about its position, and said committee members look forward to working with St.Mary’s to provide future credit for the program.

“It has become clear that the November 4 letter conveyed an unintended and incorrect impression regarding the MCLE Committee’s position regarding the provision of credit for courses containing moral or religious content. We take responsibility for and regret the miscommunication,” Nancy Smith, director of the Texas Bar’s Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Committee, wrote in a letter dated January 12 to St. Mary’s law professor Bill Piatt.


SCOTUS Brief: Catholic Colleges Know What They Believe, Not the Courts
1/13/2016
Catholic colleges and schools, not the government or the courts, should determine whether or not their beliefs have been violated, argued Ave Maria University in an amicus brief to the U.S. Supreme Court stating the government’s implementation of the HHS contraception mandate is in clear violation of the Religious Freedom Restoration Act (RFRA).

“Under RFRA, the religious adherent gets to define the nature of his own sincerely held beliefs as well as what constitutes a violation of those beliefs. Hence, the proper question under RFRA is ‘whether the HHS mandate imposes a substantial burden on the ability of the objecting parties to conduct business in accordance with their religious beliefs,’” Ave Maria’s brief stated, citing the decision in Burwell v. Hobby Lobby.


White House Targeted Catholic Education in Crafting HHS Mandate Exemptions
1/12/2016
Despite the Obama administration’s assurances that it is trying to accommodate religious freedom interests, recently discovered government emails show that institutions of Catholic education were specifically targeted and denied religious freedom exemptions from the HHS Mandate while similar religious entities received exemptions, according to the Judicial Crisis Network’s Carrie Severino.

Severino stated in an article for National Review Online last week that she’s filing an amicus brief with the U.S. Supreme Court in the HHS contraception mandate case, Zubik v. Burwell, calling out the Obama administration’s direct targeting of Catholic education and citing the emails between the Internal Revenue Service (IRS) and White House discovered during congressional inquiries into the sharing of tax information.


SCOTUS Brief Against HHS Mandate Defends Catholic Education
1/8/2016
A brief filed today by the U.S Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) in coordination with The Cardinal Newman Society and six other national religious organizations strongly urged the U.S. Supreme Court to protect the sincerely-held religious beliefs of Catholic universities, colleges and schools by invalidating any directive to provide coverage of sterilization, contraceptives and abortifacients in employee health plans as part of Obamacare’s HHS contraception mandate.

The Obama administration’s “HHS Mandate” is the “elephant in the room” threatening faithful Catholic education, said Bob Laird, vice president for program development at the Newman Society. “If our schools can teach the faith and the public good in the classroom but not practice it in the conduct of their own business, then education is merely an ideological shell with no substance.”


Catholic Colleges Prepare for HHS Showdown Before the Supreme Court
1/8/2016
Three Newman Guide-recommended colleges involved in lawsuits against the Obama administration’s HHS contraception mandate submitted their formal briefs this week as they prepare for oral arguments before the U.S. Supreme Court that could determine the fate of their religious freedom protections.

The government has embraced an unreasonably narrow view of religious freedom which excludes Catholic education and “denies full religious status and protection to clearly religious organizations,” according to Thomas Aquinas College’s summation of thebrief submitted on its behalf. “By concluding that only ‘houses of worship’ but not religious charitable and educational institutions should be considered ‘religious employers,’ the Government betrays a distressingly narrow view of the proper place of religious faith and practice in our society.”


NLRB Rules Faculty at yet Another Catholic College Have No Role in Religious Mission
1/7/2016
The National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) argued in a ruling last week that Loyola University Chicago (LUC) does not hold out many of its faculty as being important to its religious mission and asserted authority over employee relations at the University, continuing a series of rulings questioning the Catholic identity of Catholic colleges and universities.

According to the ruling from NLRB regional director Peter Sung Ohr, LUC failed to meet any of the requirements that would exempt the University from its jurisdiction. “I find that the Board has jurisdiction in this matter because the evidence does not demonstrate that the University holds out the petitioned-for faculty members as performing a specific role in creating or maintaining the University’s religious educational environment,” he wrote.


Catholic Education in 150-Year Battle for Religious Freedom
1/5/2016
The anti-Catholic Blaine Amendments and HHS contraception mandate have bookended a 150-year attack on Catholic education and religious freedom and should be overturned immediately so that Catholic universities, colleges and schools can operate according to their mission and the freedoms insured by the U.S. Constitution, said Ave Maria University President Jim Towey in a recent interview with The Cardinal Newman Society.

“This is a struggle that’s gone on for thousands of years, but for our democracy it’s particularly acute in that we’ve had this history with the Blaine Amendments, with anti-Catholic discrimination, that goes on to this day with the example of the ‘HHS Mandate,’” Towey said.

“One of the reasons Ave Maria University raced to court,” Towey continued, “was because we knew that the Obamacare’s contraceptive mandate was an attack on our religious freedom, and without that you can’t be a Catholic university.”


Opinion: Major Issues We’re Following in Catholic Education in 2016
1/4/2016
The Cardinal Newman Society’s reporting in 2015 highlighted numerous issues — positive and negative — impacting faithful Catholic education in the U.S., and we expect many of these issues to continue trending into 2016.

In the past year, Newman Society reporters covered cultural and institutional threats to faithful Catholic education, including the U.S. Supreme Court marriage ruling, problems with Common Core, Planned Parenthood’s close ties to Catholic colleges, ongoing HHS mandate lawsuits threatening religious freedom and scandalous commencement speakers at Catholic colleges. Yet, many faithful Catholic colleges and schools have responded with vigor to the current challenges and demands of our modern society.

Below, in no particular order, are 10 important issues that we will be following in our news coverage throughout 2016:


Vietnam Bishops: First Catholic University Marks New Era of Educational Freedom
1/1/2016
A new era of educational freedom in Vietnam is coinciding with the Jubilee Year of Mercy, as the country’s first Catholic university will officially open in 2016 after several years of negotiation between the Catholic Church and the Vietnamese government.

“It is a work of mercy that we will carry out in the Holy Year with renewed gratitude towards God and with compassion,” Bishop Dinh Duc Dao, president of the Episcopal Commission for Education, told Vatican Insider.

The University will be inaugurated in January and courses will begin in April.


School Choice Threatened by Anti-Catholic Blaine Amendments
12/30/2015
In an interview last night on EWTN News Nightly, Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly called attention to the anti-Catholic Blaine Amendments found in many state constitutions that threaten religious freedom and school choice by blocking funds to families who want to send their children to religious schools.

Reilly said it’s “extremely important” for supporters of faithful Catholic education to focus on repealing the Blaine Amendments right now “especially with the push for school choice, and certainly with the secularization in the country.” He noted that in some states “these Blaine Amendments have been used to block any sort of public support that might eventually go to Catholic schools,” such as vouchers and tax credits.


Texas Governor’s Office: State Bar Continuing Education Ruling Discriminates Against Religion
12/29/2015
A State Bar of Texas committee decision that denied credit for a continuing legal education (CLE) program in Christian legal ethics is, at best, “based on a shallow and impoverished understanding of legal ethics” and, at worst, “amount(s) to religious discrimination,” according to Texas Governor Greg Abbott’s general counsel Jimmy Blacklock in a letter to the Texas Bar president.

As The Cardinal Newman Society previously reported, the Texas Bar’s Minimum Continuing Legal Education (MCLE) Committee decided last month that a CLE ethics program, “Christian Ethical Perspectives: Faith and Law Today,” co-sponsored by St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio, the Catholic Lawyers’ Guild of San Antonio and the Christian Legal Society of San Antonio would be denied future accreditation for being too religious.


Anti-Catholic Blaine Amendment in Montana Blocks Education Funds for Families
12/28/2015

Families in Montana are being denied funds awarded under a new education program due to an anti-Catholic provision in the state constitution allowing discrimination against religiously-affiliated schools, Eric Baxter, senior counsel for The Becket Fund for Religious Liberty, told The Cardinal Newman Society.


“We shouldn’t have laws on the books that arose out of bigotry,” said Baxter, referring to the anti-Catholic Blaine Amendments — currently found in 37 state constitutions — that became popular in the 19th century to prohibit Catholic, or “sectarian” schools, from receiving government aid.

While the amendments arose out of “nativist bigotry” against Catholics, references to “sectarian” are now being used to discriminate against other religions as well.


Supreme Court Given Chance to Overturn Anti-Catholic Blaine Amendments
12/22/2015
The U.S. Supreme Court has the opportunity to overturn “a relic of 19th century anti-Catholic bigotry” found in numerous state constitutions and allow parents to use their tax dollars to choose the best education for their children if the Court decides to hear a school choice case involving Colorado’s discriminatory Blaine Amendment, Institute for Justice Senior Attorney Michael Bindas told The Cardinal Newman Society.

Three petitions were submitted in October 2015 (Douglas Cnty. School Dist. v. Taxpayers for Public EducationDoyle v. Taxpayers for Public Education and Colorado State Bd. of Education v. Taxpayers for Public Education) asking the Supreme Court to decide on the constitutionality of Colorado’s Blaine Amendment and a school choice pilot scholarship program in the state. The scholarship program was passed unanimously in March 2011 by the Douglas County School District Board of Education, but was almost immediately enjoined following legal challenges by the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU), Americans United for Separation of Church and State, and several local organizations.

The decision of the Supreme Court to hear the case could come as early as January after it reconvenes from winter recess on January 11, 2016.


Ruling Against Fontbonne Academy Restricts School’s Freedom to Hire for Mission
12/18/2015
A Catholic school’s freedom to hire according to its mission and ask its teachers and staff to serve as models of the faith has been dealt a significant blow following a court ruling on Wednesday which asserts that the Catholic mission of Fontbonne Academy cannot be extended to include non-teaching positions.

“As an educational institution, Fontbonne retains control over its mission and message. It is not forced to allow Barrett to dilute that message, where he will not be a teacher, minister or spokesman for Fontbonne and has not engaged in public advocacy of same-sex marriage,” Massachusetts Superior Court Judge Douglas Wilkins wrote in the ruling according to an Associated Press report.

The Cardinal Newman Society previously reported on the Catholic identity concerns such a precedent would pose for hiring policies at other Catholic schools.


Belmont Abbey College on Title IX: Legitimizing Gender Identity ‘Spiritually Harmful’
12/16/2015
Following charges of “discrimination” from a national LGBTQ activist group, Belmont Abbey College defended its request to the U.S. Department of Education (ED) for a Title IX exemption in an interview with The Cardinal Newman Society, saying the ED’s broadening of Title IX to include “gender identity” threatened the College’s religious mission and would force the College to advocate practices that are “spiritually harmful.”

“A policy which would legitimize gender identity issues, particularly according to the interpretation put forward by employees of the Department of Education, would, first of all, abdicate the responsibility of the college community as a whole to act in accord with its fundamental identity as a community which publicly identifies itself as in communion with the Catholic Church,” Abbot Placid Solari, O.S.B., chancellor of the College, told the Newman Society.

He added that, based upon the “essential characteristics” of a Catholic college outlined in the Apostolic Constitution on Catholic universities Ex corde Ecclesiae, such a policy “would abdicate the college's responsibility as an educational and intellectual community to contribute the insights of Catholic faith and reflection to the public discussion on the issues of gender identity … would contradict fidelity to the Christian message as it comes through the Church” and “would abdicate responsibility to serve the transcendent goal of life by advocating practices which, according to the Church's teaching, are spiritually harmful.”


Catholic College President Warns Faculty Against Unconstitutional Government Intrusion
12/14/2015
Carroll College President Thomas Evans has warned his faculty regarding unconstitutional government oversight by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) and how it would compromise the College’s Catholic identity following efforts by faculty members to unionize.

“I believe a union would alter the fundamental character and mission of Carroll College,” Evans wrote in an email to faculty in October. “Because Carroll College is a Catholic institution with a Catholic mission, carried out by its faculty, the Board and I believe we must contest the jurisdiction of the NLRB and any attempt to organize the faculty at Carroll College in a union.”

The College sent The Cardinal Newman Society a letter released today by Evans to the campus community in response to an all-campus email sent by one of the pro-union faculty members. In the letter, Evans reiterated that opposition to the NLRB’s actions were to protect the college’s Catholic identity.


New Catholic University in Iraq ‘A Way of Fighting Back’ Against ISIS
12/14/2015
Christians in Iraq have suffered great persecution from radical Islamist terror group the Islamic State (ISIS), but a new Catholic university in Erbil — the capital of Iraqi Kurdistan — recently opened its doors to students, and the Archbishop of Erbil said he hopes that its presence will motivate Iraqi Christians to stay in the region and work towards a better future.

“Our beloved Christian community has so many reasons to leave Iraq today,” said Archbishop Bashar Warda of Erbil to AsiaNews. “This is why this university is a strong motive to stay. We all have a great responsibility to give them reasons to stay.”

In July, Archbishop Warda told the Australian Catholic Bishops Conference that the university was “a way of fighting back against Daesh [Islamic State] and saying we (Christians) are not going to go away,” according to The Catholic Leader. “We’re not leaving, as they wished we would.”


Lawsuit Sparks Debate Over Moral Expectations of Non-Teaching Staff in Catholic Schools
12/3/2015
A lawsuit in Massachusetts is reigniting debate about the responsibilities of non-teaching staff at Catholic schools to uphold the moral principles and serve as models of the faith, raising concerns for the religious freedom of Catholic schools to fire employees whose public statements and actions contradict Church teaching.

On Tuesday, the Norfolk Superior Court heard arguments from both parties in an ongoing legal battle between Fontbonne Academy, an all-girls Catholic school based in Milton, Mass., and Matthew Barret, who was told he could not work at Fontbonne Academy as food services director in July 2013 after the school found out that Barret is in a same-sex marriage.


Texas State Bar Demands Secularization of Legal Ethics Training Held at Catholic Law School
12/2/2015
A continuing education course in Christian legal ethics co-sponsored by St. Mary’s University School of Law in San Antonio will be denied future accreditation for being too religious if the decision of a State Bar of Texas committee is allowed to stand, shutting off the University from offering continuing education for attorneys and denying Catholic lawyers their First Amendment rights, St. Mary’s law professor Bill Piatt told The Cardinal Newman Society.

“They are going out of their way to make it impossible for Catholics to put on a continuing legal education program that says anything about faith or morality,” Piatt said in an interview with the Newman Society.

An appeal of the Committee’s actions that Piatt shared with the Newman Society states that the decision “unlawfully serves to create a chilling effect upon the First Amendment rights to speak, associate, and freely exercise religion in that it deters anyone who might even think about attending, presenting or organizing any future CLE dealing with topics of morality and religion.”



New HHS ‘Gender Identity’ Rule Could Impact Bathroom Use at Catholic Schools
11/16/2015
A proposed federal anti-discrimination rule threatening the religious freedom of health care providers could soon weave its way into Catholic schools and colleges, forcing them to allow students who claim a “gender identity” different than their biological sex to enter restrooms and changing rooms of the opposite sex, and mandating health coverage for abortion and “gender transition” surgeries and therapy, legal counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF) Jonathan Scruggs told The Cardinal Newman Society.

ADF filed an official comment on Thursday with the U.S. Department of Health and Human Services (HHS) regarding its rule proposed in September that reinterprets and expands a federal ban on sex discrimination in Title IX of the Education Amendments of 1972 to include a broader ban on “gender identity” discrimination in health programs.

“The bigger concern for schools is that the Department of Education will begin to promulgate its own rules and attempt to rely on the proposed HHS rule as a means to justify the DOE’s misinterpretation of Title IX,” Scruggs told the Newman Society. “And if that happens, then every school would be forced to allow persons who claim one gender identity into the restrooms and changing rooms designated for the opposite sex.”


Catholic Educators, Not Just Little Sisters, Will Have Their Day in Court
11/9/2015
While much of the media attention has been focused on the Little Sisters of the Poor following the U.S. Supreme Court decision on Friday to hear religious freedom challenges to the Obama administration’s HHS contraception mandate, a number of Catholic colleges and schools will be represented in the seven cases the Court agreed to rule on during their next session that begins on March 21.

“The question before the Supreme Court concerning the Little Sisters of the Poor and the HHS Mandate has implications far beyond the Little Sisters themselves,” said Bob Laird, vice president for program development and director of higher education programs at The Cardinal Newman Society. “It will affect every non-profit faith-based organization in the U.S. including faithful Catholic colleges and universities — and Catholic elementary and high schools —whose very existence is based upon their freedom to teach, celebrate, and witness to their Catholic faith in the classroom, on the campus, and in the local community.”


CUA President: Pray for Religious Freedom, “Only So Much Lawyers Can Do”
11/6/2015
As a potential U.S. Supreme Court decision approaches on the Obama administration’s HHS contraception mandate impacting the religious freedom of Catholic colleges and The Cardinal Newman Society, the true future of religious freedom in the United States is in the hands of families and educators who take their faith seriously and pray, Catholic University of America President John Garvey told The Cardinal Newman Society in an interview.

“The future of religious liberty is in our own hands, and it’s going to survive or not depending on whether we think religion itself is important,” Garvey said. “There’s only so much that lawyers and academics can do to change the picture about religious freedom that we have in America.”

While lawyers are still important, the key to a successful defense of religious freedom will be found in those families and educators who make their faith important, stand up for their religious beliefs, understand the importance of faithful education and pray, Garvey stated.


Faculty, Students Bolster Pro-Life Efforts at Notre Dame Despite HHS Mandate Policy
10/29/2015
With the University’s lawsuit against the contraception mandate of the Obama administration still unsettled, temporarily allowing contraception and abortifacient coverage in campus health plans, students and faculty at University of Notre Dame told The Cardinal Newman Society there was a renewed focus on pro-life efforts on campus, which they agreed are increasingly important for a strong Catholic identity.

“Of course there is disappointment among pro-life faculty at the decision of the Notre Dame administration to include contraception in the University's health insurance coverage. But that does not discourage us in our continuing efforts to build a pro-life culture here at the University,” Father Bill Miscamble, CSC, professor of history and president of the University Faculty for Life chapter at Notre Dame, told The Cardinal Newman Society.


Catholic Education Offers Key Solution to Secularism, Newman Society President Says
10/23/2015
Catholic education must be embraced as a key solution to, not just a victim of, threats to religious freedom and an increasingly secular culture, argued The Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly in a lecture and panel discussion at Franciscan University of Steubenville last Friday.

“At a time when the New Evangelization is focused on casting its nets wide but shallow, we should also consider the depth of the integral formation that Catholic education provides, ensuring a deep commitment to the Faith and the more complete preparation of our young people for sainthood in a difficult and often hostile culture,” Reilly told an audience of faculty, students and guests at the Steubenville, Ohio, campus.

A panel of Franciscan University leaders responded to Reilly’s address, identifying the many ways that the University embraces its Catholic mission. Educators discussed their commitment to exploring new ways of impacting the culture and ensuring a new generation of Catholic leaders to confront the challenges of secularism. The panel speakers included University President Father Sean Sheridan, TOR; Dr. Daniel Kempton, vice president for academic affairs; and David Schmiesing, vice president of student life.


Pope Francis Visit to Little Sisters ‘Huge Boon’ to Catholic Educators
9/24/2015
Pope Francis’ unscheduled visit with the Little Sisters of the Poor in Washington, D.C., is an enormous benefit to faithful Catholic educators who are struggling for religious freedom and depending on the Little Sisters’ case, says Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly.

“What a huge boon to Catholic educators who yearn for relief from the Obama administration’s HHS mandate and protection of their First Amendment rights. This brings attention to the case that represents not only the Little Sisters but so many of us whose rights are denied,” said Reilly.

While the stop was not on the Holy Father’s scheduled itinerary for Wednesday, the Vatican confirmed the significance of the visit and the Holy Father’s continued push for religious freedom.


Facing Supreme Court Decision, Thomas Aquinas College Refuses to Compromise Catholic Beliefs
9/1/2015
Last week, Thomas Aquinas College (TAC) in Santa Paula, Calif., appealed to the U.S. Supreme Court for relief from the “HHS Mandate” with The Catholic University of America and the Archdiocese of Washington, D.C. But should the Court fail to protect their religious freedom, TAC President Dr. Michael F. McLean told The Cardinal Newman Society that his faithful college is prepared to pay significant fines rather than violate its beliefs.

In an interview with the Newman Society, McLean discussed the pressing need for religious freedom from the sterilization and contraceptive mandate, especially for Catholic colleges that wish to maintain their sincerely held religious beliefs.

On August 25, attorneys for TAC submitted a brief to the Supreme Court, urging the Court to take up the College’s case and refuting the government’s latest arguments against exempting the College from the federal mandate. The College explained why it should be exempted from the HHS mandate and any government requirements that would compel it to go against its Catholic identity and mission by facilitating free contraceptive, abortifacient and sterilization coverage for its employees.


Manhattan College Faculty Do Not Preserve Religious Environment, Government Finds
8/27/2015
The trickle-down effect of Catholic identity concerns and unconstitutional oversight from the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) has reared its ugly head at yet another Catholic college, with the latest ruling stating that adjunct faculty at Manhattan College do not perform a specific religious function within the institution.

As has been the case with other NLRB rulings against Catholic colleges, the regional Board’s recent unconstitutional interference into the affairs of several Catholic colleges has exposed Catholic identity concerns. This week, the NLRB upheld its decision that Manhattan College is not exempt from federal oversight, noting that the hiring and interview practices fall well short in maintaining a Catholic environment.


Catholic Educators Depend on Supreme Court Appeal Challenging HHS Mandate
8/27/2015
A last-ditch appeal by the Little Sisters of the Poor to the Supreme Court for relief from the Obama administration’s “HHS Mandate” is also of great importance to many Catholic educators and The Cardinal Newman Society, which like the Sisters are participants in a unique Catholic health care trust that lies at the center of the case.

In addition to the Newman Society, the case involves Catholic schools and colleges including Iona College, Lewis University, Manhattan College and Belmont Abbey College, a faithfully Catholic institution that is recommended in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.

Last Friday, the Christian Brothers Health Benefits Trust was granted temporary relief by the Tenth Circuit Court of Appeals to continue providing morally sound health insurance until the Supreme Court rules on the Trust’s lawsuit with the Little Sisters. The Trust and the Sisters had been granted an injunction by the Supreme Court in 2013 pending a new hearing in the Tenth Circuit, but was then denied reliefby the appeals court last month. The case was then appealed to the Supreme Court.


Jesuit University’s Faculty Not Held to Religious Standards, Government Finds
8/21/2015
The chain of events stemming from the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) unconstitutional oversight of Catholic colleges has taken a predictable turn, with the latest ruling stating that professors at Seattle University do not perform a religious function within the Jesuit university.

As has been the case with other NLRB rulings against Catholic colleges, the regional Board’s recent unconstitutional interference into the affairs of Seattle University has exposed Catholic identity concerns. This week, the NLRB upheld its decision that the University is not exempt from federal oversight.

“Traditional assumptions about religious freedom in our country are quickly eroding,” said Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly. “Strong Catholic identity is now the surest safeguard of this fundamental liberty for Catholic colleges and schools. Those institutions that have sold their religious mission down the river for decades now find themselves in a tight spot, but faithful Catholic colleges and schools have the surest footing to protect their freedom.”


‘Be Clear about What You Believe,’ Legal Experts Tell Catholic Colleges, Schools
7/24/2015
The first step to protecting the religious freedom of Catholic schools and colleges is to clearly define and enforce their mission and purpose, according to experts recently gathered by the Family Research Council (FRC).

Legal and educational experts took part this week in the FRC’s webinar, “The Court and the Classroom: How the Supreme Court's Redefinition of Marriage Affects Religious Schools.” The event was offered in direct response to the U.S. Supreme Court ruling in Obergefell v. Hodges, which effectively legalized same-sex marriage, and to equip educators with the practical steps needed to defend their religious missions.

Greg Baylor, senior counsel for Alliance Defending Freedom (ADF), kicked off the event by emphasizing the need for schools to clearly define their missions and their purpose.“ Be consistent and clear about what you believe,” Baylor stated. Many schools might believe that flying under the radar is the way to go in the wake of the Supreme Court decision and ensuing discrimination lawsuits. Catholic schools and colleges should in fact be doing quite the opposite, he said. “Root [your policies] in your theological convictions and then apply them consistently.”


Case Representing Little Sisters, Newman Society Goes Back to Supreme Court
7/24/2015
For the second time in two years, attorneys representing a broad class of Catholic institutions, including The Cardinal Newman Society, have turned to the Supreme Court for relief from the morally objectionable HHS Mandate. Earlier this week, the 10th Circuit Court of Appeals ruled for the government and refused to grant these religious organizations an exemption.

“The federal government is determined to keep playing theologian and determine for religious institutions what their beliefs really require of them,” said Tom Mead, executive vice president of The Cardinal Newman Society. “The Supreme Court must put a stop to this once and for all.”

The lawsuit, widely known as The Little Sisters of the Poor case, also involves the Christian Brothers Health Benefits Trust, which has refused to comply with the HHS mandate and provides morally appropriate insurance benefits for dozens of Catholic organizations.


Catholic Education ‘Necessary Response’ to Supreme Court Ruling, Newman Society President Tells EWTN
7/9/2015
Despite serious challenges facing Catholic education in the aftermath of the recent Supreme Court ruling legalizing same-sex marriage, Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly told Jason Calvi of EWTN News Nightly that Catholics must preserve Catholic education.

“The truth is still the truth and we have to keep teaching it,” Reilly stated in the interview that aired Wednesday. “We have to teach a new generation.”

For those disappointed by the recent Supreme Court ruling on marriage, the outlook is not entirely bleak, Reilly explained. “I think things are very hopeful in a certain respect,” he said. “Catholic education in many ways is a necessary response to the Supreme Court ruling.”


CUA President Teaches Catholic Responsibility to Protect Religious Freedom
7/9/2015
Everyone has a role to play in the continued fight to protect religious freedom, says John Garvey, president of The Catholic University of America (CUA) in Washington, D.C., and author of a new teaching aid for Catholic educators to discuss the crucial issues of our time.

Garvey was invited by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB) to develop the resource, titled “Religious Liberty and the Practice of Charity,” possibly because he has been so regularly involved in matters of religious freedom during his time at CUA, he said.

The USCCB has promoted the teaching aid in advance of Catechetical Sunday, which will be celebrated on September 20. It is a time when U.S. Catholic churches recognize and commission those in the community who will serve as catechists. According to the USCCB, the day also allows Catholics “to reflect on the role that each person plays, by virtue of Baptism, in handing on the faith and being a witness to the Gospel.”

“Religious freedom is only important in a country where religion is important,” said Garvey, encouraging Catholics not to shy away from defending and witnessing to their faith and morals. All Catholics—especially those involved in education—must find their role in protecting religious freedom if they truly see their faith as important, he said. “The freedom to do that will be important to us because knowing and loving and serving God is important to us, and it is not the business of the government to interfere with our efforts to do that.”


Interview: Sen. Lee Pushes Bill to Protect Marriage Advocates
7/9/2015
A new bill that would prohibit the federal government from discriminating against Catholic and other individuals or institutions who believe in marriage between one man and one woman is garnering significant political support, Senator Mike Lee recently told The Cardinal Newman Society in an interview.

The First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) was introduced on June 17 by Sen. Mike Lee and Rep. Raul Labrador. It prohibits the federal government from punishing marriage supporters with regard to tax exemption for nonprofits, tax deductions for donations, grants, loans, accreditation, employment and other government benefits and programs.

Lee told the Newman Society that although the odds of passage were “difficult to say at this point,” the bill has gathered “a lot of cosponsors,” including the Republican Whip of the Senate.


Catholic Education ‘Going to Win’ HHS Mandate Suits, Predicts Becket Fund Attorney
7/8/2015
All the evidence suggests that Catholic schools and colleges are going to win their challenges to the Obama administration’s “HHS mandate,” attorney Mark Rienzi of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty told The Cardinal Newman Society.

In a summary of lawsuits compiled by the Newman Society with information from the Becket Fund, at least 22 Catholic schools and 11 Catholic colleges have challenged the mandate in federal courts. Two of the schools— Pius X Catholic High School in Lincoln, Neb., and Rhodora J. Donahue Academy in Ave Maria, Fla.—are on the Newman Society’s Catholic Education Honor Roll of faithful Catholic high schools.

Eight of the colleges are recommended in the Newman Guide, including Aquinas College in Nashville, Tenn.; Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Fla.; Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C.; The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.; Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio; Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Cal.; University of Dallas, Tex.; and Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyo.

Winning permanent injunctions against enforcement of the HHS mandate is critical to the protection of Catholic schools and colleges and their ability to faithfully live out their Catholic identity and mission, attested Rienzi, who is also an assistant professor at The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law. Under the current form of the HHS mandate, most Catholic institutions would be forced to facilitate employee access to full insurance coverage for sterilization and contraceptives, including some that cause abortion. If schools and colleges are not granted relief from the HHS mandate, they will be subjected to severe fines for not participating.


Status of Catholic Education Challenges to HHS Mandate
7/8/2015
As of July 2015, at least 33 Catholic institutions have filed suits challenging the Obama administration’s “HHS mandate,” requiring employer coverage of sterilization and contraceptives (including some that cause abortion) in employee health plans.

In a summary of lawsuits compiled by the Newman Society with information from the Becket Fund, at least 22 Catholic schools and 11 Catholic colleges have challenged the mandate in federal courts. Two of the schools— Pius X Catholic High School in Lincoln, Neb., and Rhodora J. Donahue Academy in Ave Maria, Fla.—are on the Newman Society’s Catholic Education Honor Roll of faithful Catholic high schools.

Eight of the colleges are recommended in the Newman Guide, including Aquinas College in Nashville, Tenn.; Ave Maria University in Ave Maria, Fla.; Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C.; The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C.; Franciscan University of Steubenville, Ohio; Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Cal.; University of Dallas, Tex.; and Wyoming Catholic College in Lander, Wyo.


Catholic School Teacher Fired for Same-Sex Marriage Files Federal Lawsuit
7/2/2015
A Catholic school in Macon, Ga., is facing a federal discrimination lawsuit from a former teacher whose employment was terminated in 2014 after the school found that he would be legally marrying his same-sex partner.

The teacher, Flint Dollar, taught music at Mount de Sales Academy for three years before his termination on May 21, 2014. The Telegraph reported that Dollar informed the school of his upcoming same-sex marriage when he signed the contract for the 2014-2015 term on May 1, 2014.

“The argument being made in this suit—that a Catholic school’s commitment to upholding Catholic teaching on marriage is discriminatory toward homosexual employees—is a grave threat to Catholic education,” said Patrick Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society.


Newman Society Issues Marriage Statement on Steps of U.S. Supreme Court
7/1/2015
Vice President Bob Laird today issued a Cardinal Newman Society statement on the steps of the U.S. Supreme Court to press for religious freedom as well as sustained fidelity in Catholic schools and colleges to the truth about marriage. 

LifeSiteNews organized the press conference in response to the Court’s ruling last week in Obergefell v. Hodges, even as the nation prepares to celebrate American independence and the religious freedom upon which America was founded. Laird, the Newman Society’s vice president for program development, issued the following statement.


House Targets D.C. Funding to Prevent Violation of Religious Freedom
6/18/2015
The U.S. House Appropriations Committee voted Wednesday to block a District of Columbia law which violates religious freedom, an action that is both necessary and commendable, according to Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly.

The Reproductive Health Non-Discrimination Amendment Act (RHNDA), signed into law by D.C. Mayor Muriel Bowser on January 23, may force religious schools, colleges and other organizations to employ people who favor abortion and to provide coverage for elective abortions in their employee health plans, regardless of their religious objections. Despite attempts in the House to block RHNDA in April, Senate leaders failed to act and the provision officially became law on May 2.

New attempts are now being made in the House to fight the law in the appropriations process, which would prevent local or federal funds from being used to enforce the law, but would not in fact repeal it. Del. Eleanor Holmes Norton of the District of Columbia said she will oppose the appropriations amendment on the House floor, and it must get Senate approval.

“I applaud those who have stood tall to try and block RHNDA, which violates our constitutional right to religious freedom, not just for those in Catholic education but for all who have deeply held religious beliefs,” said Reilly. “Everyone must do their part to defend religious freedom or risk losing our ability to faithfully hand on the Catholic faith without compromise.”


NLRB Continues Dangerous Path with Ruling against Duquesne University
6/11/2015
A domino effect has been created by the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB), which continues its unconstitutional oversight of Catholic colleges with a ruling last Friday against Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Pa., which the University intends to appeal.

But as has been the case with other NLRB rulings against Catholic colleges, the Board’s interference in religious education has exposed Catholic identity concerns at Duquesne. Despite the Board’s policy of exempting individual faculty members from NLRB-approved labor unions, as long as the college itself identifies the professors as having a religious function, an NLRB regional director found that Duquesne does not in fact have substantial expectations that adjunct faculty members teach and witness to the Catholic faith.

“The adjuncts’ one semester contracts do not reference religious duties or the Employer’s Mission, or any role that the adjunct would be expected to play in furthering the Mission or the Employer’s religious educational environment,” ruled the NLRB director.


NLRB Finds Saint Xavier University Professors Not Held to Religious Standards
6/4/2015
In a ruling Monday, the National Labor Relations Board (NLRB) continued its decades-long harassment of Catholic colleges by asserting its authority over employee relations at Saint Xavier University in Chicago and proceeding with its oversight of a vote by adjunct faculty members on whether to form a union.

But as has been the case with other NLRB rulings against Catholic colleges, the Board’s unconstitutional interference in religious education has also exposed Catholic identity concerns. The NLRB determined that even Saint Xavier University’s theology professors are not exempt from federal oversight, because the University itself fails to identify them as having a religious function.

Last December, religious colleges won a significant concession from the NLRB, when it abandoned its intrusive test into whether a college has a “substantial religious character.” The test violated the U.S. Supreme Court’s 1979 ruling in NLRB v. Catholic Bishop of Chicago, which forbids the Board to assert jurisdiction over employee relations in religious education and to attempt to decide whether institutions are sufficiently religious for exemption.


Philly Catholics Celebrate Classical Education as Hope for Families, Religious Freedom
6/4/2015

At the annual “Stand Up for Children” gala hosted by Regina Coeli Academy of Abingdon, Penn., last month, prominent Philadelphia-area Catholics celebrated the impact of Catholic education in defense of religious freedom and the family.

The topic of the family was especially on their minds, as the Archdiocese of Philadelphia anticipates the World Meeting of Families and the arrival of Pope Francis in September.

Patrick Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society, delivered the keynote address and praised the benefits of classical Catholic education at Regina Coeli Academy.

“My talk today is about hope—and I believe that our reasons for celebrating Regina Coeli Academy today are as much about hope for the future as they are about the lives that were touched even just today, as I watched your teachers witness the love that Christ has for your students,” Reilly said.



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