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Catholic Education Daily


Gonzaga Professor Laments University ‘Scandal’ in Yielding to HHS Mandate

Dr. David DeWolf, a professor at Gonzaga University’s School of Law who teaches First Amendment issues, is asking whether the Jesuit university has completely surrendered its religious freedom.

DeWolf, in a piece that appears on the website of The 1887 Trust, a new organization of alumni and parents committed to promoting the Catholic identity of the Jesuit university in Spokane, Washington, asks why Gonzaga agreed so readily last year to cover contraception, abortifacients and sterilization procedures as mandated by the Obama administration’s HHS mandate.

“Gonzaga made this choice at the same time that many other Catholic institutions, including EWTN and Notre Dame, filed suit to have the regulations issued by the Administration struck down as violating either the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, the 1st amendment to the U.S. Constitution,or both,” writes DeWolf. “Meanwhile, Cardinal Timothy Dolan, archbishop of New York City and president of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, said this about the mandate: ‘Critics charge that this is an attack on the cornerstone First Amendment freedom that is the very foundation of our democracy. It is.’”

Dewolf argues that the University’s decision to violate its own stated beliefs is a “scandal” that leads Catholics astray.

Sadly, this conforms to what has become the culture at Gonzaga University. Instead of the Church’s teaching on sexuality at the forefront, with dissenting views tolerated in the spirit of academic freedom—but clearly and authoritatively refuted—it is common for dissenting views to be treated as normative, and those who support the Church’s teaching to be regarded as aberrational. So when President McCulloh assures us that the “position of the Roman Catholic Church” will be clearly communicated, we should remember that actions speak louder than words. Whatever might be said in defense of the Church’s teachings, the decision to capitulate, with barely a shrug of the shoulders, to unjust and immoral threats by the Obama Administration, communicates volumes about what Gonzaga really stands for. 

Instead of complying only when forced to, and with an explanation of why such surrender was morally justified, Gonzaga’s early compliance created the impression that they were eager to comply, at a time when other universities were fighting the good fight…

The decision of the Obama Administration to impose an unjust mandate admittedly forced Gonzaga, along with other Catholic institutions, to make tough choices.  If it simply flinched in the face of pressure, out of cowardice, it would be understandable, if regrettable.  But let us not deceive ourselves as to what this decision really says about Gonzaga University.

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