Thursday, May 26, 2016

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Catholic Education Daily

Catholic Education Daily Articles

Religious Liberty

Religious Liberty
Catholic College Presidents Hopeful for Resolution in HHS Mandate Challenge
5/24/2016
The presidents of two Catholic colleges involved in the U.S.Supreme Court challenges to the HHS mandate applauded the Court’s recent decision to vacate all lower court rulings and expressed their hope that a positive resolution for religious freedom would soon be reached.

“I am pleased that Supreme Court has offered us a way forward which doesn’t require us to participate in the provision of the services which we find to be morally objectionable,” said Catholic University of America (CUA) President John Garvey in a press release. “We will move forward in our conversations with government officials with the sincere hope that our religious exemption, as well as that of our co-plaintiffs, is ensured.”

Last week, the Supreme Court unanimously vacated all previous lower court decisions in Zubik v. Burwell, a case challenging the HHS contraception/abortifacient/sterilization mandate. The mandate forces Catholic colleges, schools and organizations to provide morally objectionable health insurance coverage for their employees. CUA and Thomas Aquinas College (TAC), along with several Catholic high schools, are co-plaintiffs in the case.


NRLB Rulings Highlight Catholic Identity Concerns at Two More Colleges
5/24/2016
Earlier this month, Marywood University in Scranton, Pa., became the second 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. But both Marywood and Saint Martin’s University in Lacey, Wash., in a separate NLRB decision, ultimately saw their religious freedom arguments rejected due to the colleges’ own lack of emphasis on the role of faculty in their religious missions.

While the Catholic Church supports the concept of unions, The Cardinal Newman Society has consistently argued that the greater issue at stake in the ongoing labor disputes is the NLRB’s unconstitutional oversight in deciding the Catholicity of colleges. In December 2014, religious colleges won a significant concession from the NLRB when it abandoned its previous assessment test, evaluating whether a college has a “substantial religious character” by prying into matters of worship, curriculum, teaching, hiring policies and student recruitment.

The NLRB’s new approach seeks to determine whether specific faculty members serve a religious function. In many of these cases, the NLRB has actually exposed Catholic identity concerns at colleges in attempts to justify its jurisdiction. The cases highlight the need for Catholic colleges to strengthen their policies, handbooks and hiring documents by clearly defining the specific role of faculty in furthering their religious mission.


SCOTUS Ruling on HHS Mandate Impacts Catholic Colleges and Schools
5/17/2016
The legal battle will continue for Catholic colleges and schools and other religious nonprofits and institutions challenging the Obama administration’s contraception mandate following a decision by the U.S. Supreme Court on Monday to send the issue back to lower courts.

“We are nearing what seems to be a very happy ending to a terrible chapter in America’s history of religious tolerance,” said Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly. “Catholics should be very proud of the Little Sisters but also the other courageous organizations who have stood strong against this injustice — including the most faithful Catholic colleges and schools, which figured prominently in the legal and social battles to halt the HHS mandate.”

The eight U.S. Supreme Court justices unanimously vacated the appellate court decisions in their ruling. The case most notably involves the Little Sisters of the Poor, but a number of Catholic colleges and schools are also involved in the legal challenge, standing their ground in defiance of the HHS contraception/abortifacient/sterilization mandate. Monday’s ruling follows the government’s admission last month that it need not force religious objectors to provide contraception coverage as part of the HHS mandate, and it signals further potential lower court victories for Catholic institutions in the near future.


Vatican Education Official: ‘Dialogue’ at Catholic Universities Must Lead to Truth
5/13/2016
When fostering dialogue with other viewpoints, Catholic universities must be clear on the truths of Church teaching, and should strive to lead others to that truth, said Father Bechina, FSO, undersecretary of the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education.

“[T]here is no progress in dialogue, no progress toward truth, no intellectual progress, if we do not have clear standpoints,” Fr. Bechina said in an interview with Vatican Radio.

“A good Catholic university should have a clear vision, mission and standpoint which should be grounded in its belief in the Gospel, in Jesus Christ,” he added.

Having clear positions grounded in the Gospel, Catholic universities should “respect that there are other opinions and then engage with them,” Fr. Bechina said, with the goal of “show[ing] that we have good reason for what we [as Catholics] believe.”


Congresswoman Wants to Shame Catholic Colleges for Defending Church Teaching
5/10/2016
A member of Congress from Massachusetts is hoping to use the force of the federal government to brand faithful Catholic colleges as discriminatory against students who experience same-sex attraction or gender identity issues.

Rep. Katherine Clark introduced legislation in Congress recently to force faithful Catholic colleges and other religious institutions of higher learning to publish documents “in a prominent location” on their websites if they request religious exemptions from“gender identity” applications of Title IX — exemptions that were explicitly written into the federal education law to protect religious education.

The bill also requires the Department of Education to publish the same information on its website. But following lobbying from LGBT activist groups, the Department has already voluntarily published a searchable database in April of all colleges that have ever requested religious exemptions to Title IX.


Top 10 Signs of Renewal in Catholic Colleges
5/5/2016
The 2015-2016 academic year was a good one in many ways for Catholic higher education, The Cardinal Newman Society has concluded after reviewing hundreds of news reports about positive signs of strong Catholic identity. These examples show that faithful Catholic education is flourishing on many campuses, forming students morally, spiritually and intellectually, in sharp contrast to the scandals at many wayward Catholic universities.

Representatives from the colleges who spoke with the Newman Society during this school year cited their Catholic mission as the core of what makes their education unique and successful. Instead of a hindrance, fidelity to Church teaching is the key to their growth and success.

Our recap of articles published this year by The Cardinal Newman Society includes new initiatives aimed at stronger marriage preparation, efforts to combat the scourge of pornography, healthy visitation policies in student housing, the defense of religious freedom and more.


Still No Vote on Religious Freedom Bill Backed by Catholic Educators
4/19/2016
The Daily Signal recently pointed out that almost a year has gone by without a vote since the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) was introduced in Congress. The Cardinal Newman Society, a number of Catholic educators and dozens of religious and public policy organizations signed a letter last February urging House leadership to schedule a vote on the bill.

A representative of the Family Research Council, which sponsored the letter, told the Newman Society that a formal response has yet to be received. The letter was addressed to Speaker Paul Ryan, Majority Leader Kevin McCarthy and Majority Whip Steve Scalise.


Govt. Admits HHS Mandate Alternatives Possible, Good News for Catholic Educators
4/19/2016
The federal government recently admitted in a brief to the U.S. Supreme Court that it does not need to force religious objectors to provide contraceptive coverage as part of the HHS mandate, meaning a Court victory for Catholic colleges and schools, and others challenging the mandate, could be in sight, according to Becket Fund for Religious Liberty senior counsel Mark Rienzi.

“The government has now admitted ‘yes, we can get people contraceptives without involving nuns,’” said Rienzi in a recent press call discussing the briefs requested by the Court last month. “That’s a pretty logical point. It shouldn’t have taken five years of litigation to admit that, but it’s good that they have admitted it. And now it’s a pretty easy path to consensus for the Court.”

In a surprise twist last month, the Supreme Court asked both the government and petitioners against the HHS contraception/abortifacient/sterilization mandate to submit additional briefs. The briefs, according to the Court’s request, were meant to explain ways in which the objectionable coverage could be provided to employees while also preserving the religious freedom of employers — including Catholic colleges, schools and nonprofits — seeking to live out their sincerely held beliefs.


Catholic Colleges Must ‘Have the Courage’ to Defend Marriage, Says Bishop
4/11/2016
Catholic colleges and universities must gather their courage and defend their Catholic identity and mission from cultural and legal challenges to the Church’s teachings on the nature and truth about marriage, and on sexuality and gender as well, according to Diocese of Phoenix Bishop Thomas Olmsted.

“I think it is very important that we learn how to present the teaching about femininity, masculinity and marriage in as persuasive a way as possible,” he said in an interview with the Newman Guide-recommended Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif. “I think we need always to make an effort to do that because the truth has power within itself. It does not depend on our energy or on anything else; we must simply have the courage to say the truth. It has its own inner power.”

“In the coming years, our institutions — and we personally — will be challenged on these things,” Bishop Olmsted added, noting the tough road ahead for Catholic education when it comes to defending its beliefs on marriage, gender and sexuality.


Notre Dame Sends ‘Mixed Signals’ by Honoring Both Biden and Little Sisters of the Poor
4/6/2016
By presenting prominent awards to both Vice President Joe Biden and the Little Sisters of the Poor, the University of Notre Dame has once again set up a contradictory example of how Catholic colleges should act in the public sphere, said alumnus and Wall Street Journal columnist William McGurn.

“All in all, it’s a sad message Notre Dame sends: Principles are a fine thing—just don’t let them get in the way of a comfortable place in society,” he wrote, commenting on the contradictory nature of honoring pro-abortion Biden and the staunchly pro-life Little Sisters of the Poor at two separate events in the coming weeks.

On Saturday, the Little Sisters of the Poor will receive the 2016 Notre Dame Evangelium Vitae Medal, a lifetime achievement award for “heroes in the pro-life movement” meant to honor those who have “served to proclaim the Gospel of Life by steadfastly affirming and defending the sanctity of human life from its earliest stages,” according to its description.


Catholic Colleges Prepare Responses to SCOTUS HHS Mandate Request
4/5/2016
The U.S. Supreme Court is seeking alternatives to the HHS contraception/abortifacient/sterilization mandate that would provide coverage for these services while preserving religious freedom, and Catholic colleges involved in challenging the mandate are preparing to respond.

“There are numerous ways for the government to preserve religious freedom without forcing contraceptive coverage on objecting religious organizations and colleges,” Thomas Aquinas College (TAC) legal counsel Quincy Masteller told The Cardinal Newman Society, noting that the Supreme Court justices may now be recognizing the moral dilemma facing religious organizations and colleges.

Last week, the Supreme Court made an unusual request, asking both the government and religious organizations to submit additional briefs exploring possible alternatives to the mandate. The alternatives, according to the Court, should spare religious non-profit organizations from performing any role in providing objectionable coverage while also assuring that those services are available to employees through other means.


SCOTUS Request for Alternatives to HHS Mandate a Hopeful Sign for Catholic Colleges?
3/31/2016
The U.S. Supreme Court’s unusual request of parties in the HHS mandate case to submit alternatives for contraception coverage that avoids forcing religious organizations to cover services in their health insurance contrary to their faith could be an optimistic sign for Catholic colleges and schools looking to preserve their religious freedom, according to several plaintiffs and lawyers involved in the cases.

“This is encouraging news,” said Thomas Aquinas College (TAC) President Michael McLean, according to a press release issued on Tuesday. “It suggests that the justices are looking for a solution that satisfies the government’s policy aims without getting religious organizations, such as the college, involved in furnishing access to morally objectionable coverage.”


Public Called to Join in Prayer and Fasting on Day of HHS Mandate Arguments
3/22/2016
Members of the Thomas Aquinas College (TAC) community will be joined by other Newman Guide colleges in observing a day of prayer and fasting on Wednesday, March 23 — when the U.S. Supreme Court will hear oral arguments in the cases against the Obama administration’s HHS contraception mandate — and the public is being encouraged take part in praying for religious freedom.

TAC President Dr. Michael McLean asked that friends of the College and supporters of religious freedom everywhere join students, faculty, staff and alumni in praying for the justices, and for the future of religious freedom in the United States.


HHS Mandate Seeks to Silence Catholic Institutions on Dignity of Human Life
3/21/2016
It is essential that Catholic colleges and schools defend the dignity of all human life when it is challenged, which makes it “particularly egregious that the federal government is trying to silence the few institutions who are,” Helen Alvaré, George Mason University School of Law professor, told The Cardinal Newman Society in comments on the challenges to Obamacare’s contraception mandate.

“If Catholics really believe that the relationship between a man and a woman provides a unique glimpse of the love of God, and if we reflect on the stunning fact that sexual relations make all human children, it seems clear that Catholics have a particular responsibility to educate on the matters challenging the dignity of human life,” she said. But the Obama administration’s contraception mandate threatens the ability of Catholic colleges and schools to fulfill that responsibility.


Faculty, Students at Catholic Colleges Defend HHS Mandate in Court Brief
3/18/2016
Included among the briefs submitted to the U.S. Supreme Court regarding the HHS contraception/abortifacient/sterilization mandate challenges was an amici curiae brief signed by students and faculty members from several Catholic universities who argued that the mandate is necessary for women’s health, education and professional achievement. The Court will hear oral arguments on the challenges to the mandate on March 23.

The brief was signed by 240 students, faculty and staff at “religious institutions.” All but one of the colleges and universities represented in the brief are Catholic. The faculty members who signed the brief are employed by DePaul University in Chicago, Fordham University, Fordham University School of Law, Georgetown University Law Center and Loyola Marymount University in Los Angeles.


Catholics Join in Prayer, Fasting Before Supreme Court Review of HHS Mandate Cases
3/14/2016
In the days leading up to March 23, when the U.S. Supreme Court is scheduled to hear oral arguments for the challenges to the HHS contraception mandate, faithful Catholics across the country will unite in prayer and fasting for the protection of religious freedom.

Bishop Paul Loverde of Arlington, Va., released a statement encouraging the faithful to join in a novena beginning March 14 and ending March 22, one day before the scheduled oral arguments. “Prayer is the one indispensable element in any undertaking or strategy,” Bishop Loverde began in his statement. “Whatever other elements may be needed, if prayer is not the absolute and essential action, the effort will ultimately be unsuccessful.”


SCOTUS Outcome for HHS Mandate Cases Unpredictable, Says Catholic University President
2/25/2016
Whether with eight justices or nine, it is simply impossible to predict how the U.S. Supreme Court will rule in the upcoming challenges to the HHS contraception mandate, Catholic University of America President John Garvey told The Cardinal Newman Society, commenting on the potential impact of Justice Antonin Scalia’s passing.

“It’s always a little presumptuous to suppose we can foretell the outcome of a case, or predict the judgment of the members of the Court. So we can’t be sure how Justice Scalia’s death might bear on the result,” Garvey said. Oral arguments are scheduled to be heard before the Court on March 23.


Thomas Aquinas College Still Hopeful as SCOTUS Hearing on Contraceptive Mandate Case Approaches
2/25/2016
In recent weeks, many commentators have speculated on the potential outcomes of U.S. Supreme Court cases following the death of Justice Antonin Scalia, but Dr. Michael McLean, president of the Newman Guide-recommended Thomas Aquinas College in Santa Paula, Calif., told The Cardinal Newman Society that he is still confident about the College’s chances in the HHS contraception mandate case being brought before the nation’s highest court next month.

“Justice Scalia’s death leaves a void on the high court that will be difficult to fill,” said McLean. “However, we at Thomas Aquinas College are confident in the case our attorneys will make against the HHS mandate when they argue before the Supreme Court.” 

Thomas Aquinas College is part of Roman Catholic Archbishop of Washington v. Sylvia Burwell, which also includes The Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., and several Catholic high schools as petitioners. The Cardinal Newman Society and Belmont Abbey College in Belmont, N.C., will be affected by the outcome of Little Sisters of the Poor v. Burwell, as both are insured by Christian Brothers Employee Benefit Trust, which also covers the Little Sisters.


Faithful Catholic Colleges and Schools Urge Passage of First Amendment Defense Act
2/16/2016
Representatives from a number of Catholic colleges and schools recognized by The Cardinal Newman Society for their strong Catholic identity joined the Newman Society and dozens of religious and public policy organizations this week in an effort led by the Family Research Council to urge leadership in the U.S. House of Representatives to pass the First Amendment Defense Act (FADA) in order to “prohibit federal government discrimination against those who continue to believe that marriage is between one man and one woman.”

“The very survival of Catholic education and faithful nonprofits like The Cardinal Newman Society is threatened, unless Congress intervenes and ensures our full protection,” said Newman Society President Patrick Reilly. “Congress needs to stand by the First Amendment and defend America’s bedrock principle of freedom of religion.”


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.


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