Following The Cardinal Newman Society’s 2014 commencement report, the National Catholic Register featured insights from Society President Patrick J. Reilly on the selection of commencement speakers and honorees by Catholic colleges and universities.
The Society’s report highlighted the unfortunate confluence of a rise in commencement scandals with the ten-year anniversary of the U.S. bishops’ policy which prohibited honors and speaking platforms for public opponents of Catholic teaching.
Whereas the Society identified only six Catholic colleges and universities hosting scandalous speakers and honorees in 2013, this year’s report included at least 20 institutions.
In the interview, Reilly told correspondent Joseph Pronechen:
“These colleges have chosen to publicly disregard Catholic teaching and the bishops' 2004 directive on honors and speakers. It's a great insult to Pope Saint John Paul II, who launched the renewal of Catholic identity across Catholic education, and it violates the trust of parents and the Church.”
“We have had many years of real progress in Catholic higher education. It's not all been smooth, and we're still so far from the vision of Saint John Paul II and Blessed John Henry Newman, but it's outrageous that certain colleges would choose this year to act up and embarrass the Church.”
Reilly highlighted the fact that many institutions ‘“want to honor people doing something for social justice, AIDS and poverty—noble causes in and of themselves.”
“But the sad reality,” said Reilly, “is that some of these efforts get tied in with Planned Parenthood [and other organizations that promote abortion and contraception].”
[Reilly] said this was the case with Mark Shriver, the senior vice president of Save the Children, a charity that has pro-contraceptive goals, according to its website. Shriver is slated to give the commencement address at Loyola University of Maryland.
Reilly also said that Catholic colleges sometimes place too much significance on public prominence when selecting commencement speakers, instead of focusing on a potential speaker’s fidelity to and work on behalf of the Church.
Sometimes Catholic colleges place too much significance on public prominence when selecting commencement speakers, instead of focusing on a potential speaker’s fidelity to and work on behalf of the Church, Reilly told the Register.
However, the Newman Society’s 2014 report also included several Catholic colleges and universities with plans to host laudable speakers and honorees at commencement.
The Register reports:
Reilly …highlighted Franciscan University in Steubenville, Ohio, as a Catholic university that always selects “sterling” commencement speakers. This year is no different, as Michael Warsaw, the chairman of the board and CEO of the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN) and publisher of the Register, delivered the commencement address on May 10.
Other praiseworthy commencements mentioned by the Newman Society took place at Aquinas College (Tenn.), Benedictine College (Kan.), The Catholic University of America (D.C.), Christendom College (Va.), The College of Saint Mary Magdalen (N.H.), DeSales University (Penn.), Iona College (N.Y.), Mount St. Mary’s University (Md.), Ohio Dominican University (Ohio), Thomas Aquinas College (Calif.), University of Dallas (Tex.), Walsh University (Ohio), and Wyoming Catholic College (Wyo.).
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