The spring 2012 commencement season comes nearly eight years since the U.S. Catholic bishops banned
Catholic honors and platforms for public opponents of Catholic teaching — and still The Cardinal Newman Society finds at least 11 scandalous speakers and honorees at Catholic colleges, with possibly more to be announced in the coming weeks.
In one respect, that may be good news. Recent years have seen a marked decline in Catholic college commencement scandals: from 24 colleges in 2006 to 14 last year. Although repeat offenders like Georgetown and DePaul have not yet released names for 2012, dare we hope for another decline?
And readers should celebrate the fact that the large majority of Catholic colleges appear to have chosen non-controversial speakers or honorees whose public actions don’t run counter to Catholic teaching. Good for them.
Nevertheless, in a year when the Catholic Church is fighting for religious liberty against government overreach, it’s especially important that colleges refrain from undercutting the clear moral stance of the bishops. One might even expect that Catholic colleges would be gratefully honoring the bishops this year. But while we know of a few instances of bishops to be honored in this year’s commencement ceremonies (we will celebrate these and other stellar choices in a subsequent post), we are aware of only two invitations to the heroic Cardinal Timothy Dolan and none at all to Archbishop-designate William Lori.
Two other bishops deserve honors for halting commencement scandals #12 and #13 before we posted our list. Anna Maria College had selected Victoria Kennedy as commencement speaker, but Bishop Robert McManus successfully persuaded
the College to cancel her invitation. (Boston College Law School has not yet followed suit; see below.)
Also, last Friday the Youngstown campus of Mercy College of Ohio rescinded
its invitation to State Rep. Bob Hagan at the request of Bishop George Murry, who said that Hagan “has consistently voted for pro-abortion legislation, policies and funding” and complained that the invitation had been made “without any proper review by my office.” Hagan, who is Catholic, was scheduled to speak at the commencement ceremony tomorrow, May 1.
To identify scandals, we use the 2004 statement from the bishops’ “Catholics in Political Life” as a guide, which reads: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” We therefore identify examples of speakers and honorees who have publicly and clearly opposed Catholic moral teaching.
There may be good reasons, applying Catholic teaching with sound judgment, to question other commencement speakers and honorees. We could name a few, including the presidents of wayward Catholic colleges who are honored by other wayward Catholic colleges. But we focus here only on public dissent, and we have spent many hours on meticulous research to document our concerns.
So here it is: The Cardinal Newman Society’s list of 11 Catholic colleges and universities whose 2012 commencement speakers and honorees have publicly opposed or acted contrary to Catholic values on fundamental teachings:
to bestow an honorary degree upon Kentucky Governor Steve Beshear, who supports abortion rights and same-sex “marriage,” at the university’s spring commencement ceremony on May 12. The university will give the Governor an honorary doctor of law degree for his “civil public discourse and bipartisan cooperation for the benefit of all citizens.”
Gov. Beshear was quoted in the Richmond Register
: “When a woman considers the difficult decision of whether or not to have an abortion, this decision should be between her, her physician and her God.” In January, Beshear vowed to veto legislation that would amend Kentucky’s constitution to prohibit same-sex “marriage,” according to Issues2000.org
Boston College Law School invited
Victoria Reggie Kennedy, widow of Senator Edward Kennedy, to give the commencement address at its May 25th
ceremony — just a few months after she was keynote speaker for the 75th
of the Boston College Graduate School of Social Work.
This is especially disturbing, because just last month another Catholic college in Massachusetts, Anna Maria College, rescinded
its invitation to Kennedy at the request of Bishop Robert McManus, who said her views are out of line with Catholic teachings.
“I think what people don’t understand is that the fundamental social justice issue in the teaching of the Church is the right to life,” Bishop McManus said. “Because if that right is not respected, there is no possibility of enjoying other rights. So that trumps everything – but they don’t understand that, and then they get upset when a bishop or a Catholic institution says a particular person is not suitable to be honored.”
Despite claims that Bishop McManus was mistaken about Mrs. Kennedy (see here
), there is good cause for concern. In a 2004 Washington Post[a1] column
, she selectively drew upon Catholic Church statements to defend “pro-choice” politicians: “The pro-choice position recognizes that the United States is a diverse, pluralistic society where a woman has the constitutional right to make a decision based upon her own conscience, religious beliefs and medical needs.”
At an April 2010 dinner
in which gay-rights activist David Mixner was honored, she praised
his fight for equality for homosexuals: “Not second-class equality, but the right to live free, and to marry, and to raise a family.”
Offering more than support for pro-abortion rights politicians, Victoria Kennedy campaigned for and was a “political adviser” to her husband Ted Kennedy. And according to the Bay Path College Women's Leadership Conference site
, without apparent regard for the U.S. bishops’ concerns about abortion and contraception, “she stood by President Obama during the signing of the landmark National Healthcare Reform Bill, which her husband had long championed. Kennedy said the moment meant a great deal to her, as she had worked tirelessly for the legislation her husband had called the cause of his life. After the Senator’s death, Kennedy continued promoting its importance through writing and lectures in an effort to continue building the popular support that helped fuel its passage.”
Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu with an honorary doctor of laws degree, and he will speak at the commencement ceremony on May 13. (The Cardinal Newman Society previously reported this here
, and also reported on student and alumni opposition here
a constitutional amendment in South Africa to legalize abortion and even reportedly endorsed
the work of the Marie Stopes abortion chain. He also reportedly said
, “Planned parenthood is an obligation of those who are Christians. Our church thinks we should use scientific methods that assist in planning of families.”
John Carroll University
, a Jesuit institution in Ohio, has invited
Dr. Charles M. Geschke, chairman and co-founder of Adobe Systems, Inc., to speak at the university’s commencement ceremony on May 20. University President Rev. Robert Niehoff, S.J., will present Geschke an honorary doctor of humane letters degree.
helped establish the “Silicon Valley Leaders Say No on Proposition 8” and purchased a full-page ad in the San Jose Mercury News
opposing the 2008 California referendum to define marriage as between one man and one woman. Geschke reportedly donated $5,000 toward the ad and was described as honorary co-chair of the group.
While addressing the U.S. bishops conference in 1998 on the topic of technology, Geschke reportedly[p2] [a3]
veered wildly off topic to lecture his audience saying, “We as a religion have cut ourselves off from 50 percent of the population. I would never do that in running my business. As a Catholic, I want to say this to the hierarchy – make women much more essential in what you do. It will be essential as we enter the 21st century.”
While the statement only hinted at Catholic teaching on women’s ordination, Geschke made his dissent clear and public during his subsequent interview
with the National Catholic Reporter
. Asked if he was speaking about female priests, Geschke said, “Absolutely. I think women should have a coequal status in the hierarchy of the Church with men.”
Loyola Marymount University’s Law School
in Los Angeles has invited
Judge Mary Margaret McKeown of the U.S. Court of Appeals for the Ninth Circuit to speak at its commencement ceremony on May 20.
Her nomination by President Bill Clinton was, according to The Seattle Times
, strongly opposed by conservatives because of her support of Roe v. Wade
, the Supreme Court decision that legalized abortion. According to the Times
, “McKeown also expressed her pro-choice views on abortion by signing a resolution urging the American Bar Association to support Roe v. Wade
Loyola University in New Orleans
Pulitzer Prize-winning author, presidential historian and former Newsweek
editor Jon Meacham with an honorary doctorate of humane letters degree, and he will speak at the May 12th
Meacham wrote a column
last year for the Daily Beast declaring “A Victory for Liberty in California” when the California Supreme Court overturned a voter-approved ban on same-sex “marriage.” Arguing that “the religious case for gay marriage is a strong one,” Meacham compared the ban on gay marriage to Jim Crow laws: “If a person is homosexual by nature — that is, if one’s sexuality is as intrinsic a part of one’s identity as gender or skin color — then society can no more deny a gay person access to the secular rights and religious sacraments because of his homosexuality than it can reinstate Jim Crow.”
“Scripture is not inerrant; believers are called to interpret biblical texts in light of tradition and reason,” Meacham also wrote. “For now the debate is about civil marriage, but much of the opposition to opening the institution to gays and lesbians comes from those who profess a faith of charity.”
Although Meacham is an Episcopalian, he has advocated with the utmost snobbery what the Catholic Church needs to change in the future. In his May 2002 article
“Sex and the Church: A Case for Change,” he encouraged the Catholic Church to embrace homosexuality (including, by implication, sexual activity), gay priests, married priests, female priests, same-sex “marriage” and adoptions by same-sex couples.
Mount St. Mary’s College
in California will host Los Angeles Times
columnist Sandy Banks as its 2012 commencement speaker on May 7.
In a 2009 Los Angeles Times column
about a program to pay for sterilization and contraceptives — including the abortifacient IUD — for illegal drug users, Banks wrote, “So we can talk about women’s rights or about the privilege of procreation. However we cast the conversation, there is one truth we can’t avoid: We are helping mothers heal when we keep unwanted children from being born.”
In a 2008 column
, Banks urged her readers to support same-sex “marriage.” She wrote a story about young homosexuals and ended with this: “She laughed, and when she looked up I saw that same glow in her eyes I see when my daughter talks about the young man she loves. ‘I don't know… but yeah, maybe we’ll get married.’ And I don’t see a gay kid, but a 17-year-old romantic. Wait a while, I tell her, thinking like a mother. And hoping, come November, voters don’t take the choice from her.”
Saint Joseph College
in Connecticut will honor
Governor Daniel P. Malloy, who supports
abortion rights and same-sex “marriage,” with an honorary degree at the College’s commencement ceremony on May 13. (Campus Notes previously reported this here
In February, the White House reportedly
thanked Malloy, a Boston College graduate, for speaking out publicly in favor of the HHS contraceptive mandate that the bishops and so many Catholic institutions are currently fighting. “I think it’s the right rule,” Malloy told Joe Scarborough at MSNBC.
Last year Malloy issued a press release
celebrating the anniversary of Roe v. Wade
, which legalized abortion. “I’ve been a lifelong advocate and strong supporter of a woman’s right to choose,” he said. Planned Parenthood.org
lists Governor Malloy under the banner of “Mayors and Governors Stand With Planned Parenthood.”
On same-sex “marriage,” last year Malloy reportedly
spoke cavalierly: “Historically, two people get married. We’re not changing history. We might be changing the sex of individuals or the concept that they’re both of the same sex, but we’re not changing anything. A registration is a registration is a registration.”
Saint Mary’s College
in Notre Dame, Indiana, will honor
Mellody Hobson, president of Chicago-based Ariel Investments LLC, with an honorary doctor of humanities degree on May 19. Hobson will also deliver the commencement address for the Catholic women’s college.
In 2010 Politico[a4]
listed “Mellody Hobson” as a “supporter” of The American Foundation for Equal Rights, an organization dedicated to advancing the legalization of gay marriage. The Foundation, which boasts on its website that it was the sole sponsor of the federal court challenge to California’s Proposition 8, lists Hobson as a supporter
of the lawsuit and the Foundation.
The Chicago Foundation for Women identifies “Mellody Hobson” as a donor[a5]
in 2008, the same year she served
on the host committee for a Foundation awards event. The Foundation has made grants to abortion-rights and same-sex “marriage” advocates; its list
of “recent grantees” includes Black Women for Reproductive Justice, Chicago Abortion Fund, Lambda Legal Defense and Education Fund, NARAL Pro-Choice America, The NOW Foundation, and Planned Parenthood of Illinois. The Foundation’s website
also notes that it supports the Illinois Campaign for Reproductive Health and Access, which seeks “to organize around the advancement of a broad pro-active, pro-choice agenda,” and the Hyde – 30 Years Is Enough! Campaign (which links to www.fundabortionnow.org
The University of Notre Dame
will honor Dr. Thomas Quinn, director of the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health, as the Graduate School’s 2012 Distinguished Alumnus and commencement speaker on May 19. (The Cardinal Newman Society previously reported this here
At the Johns Hopkins Center for Global Health, Quinn is responsible for facilitating numerous faculty projects, including many that promote the use of contraceptives including male and female condoms, “emergency” contraception (which can cause early abortion), and IUDs (which also can cause abortion). Examples are provided here
Quinn has done his own important work studying HIV/AIDS and its prevention. But his work has involved condom distribution to prevent HIV infection, as he explained in a December 2000 article
about his project in Uganda.
In an interview with The Cardinal Newman Society, Quinn claimed that the Catholic Church in Uganda endorsed the Ugandan government’s policy of “abstinence, be faithful, condoms” to slow the spread of HIV/AIDS. “There are 30 million people infected with HIV and you need to do something to actively try to change that,” Quinn said.
The University of San Francisco
, a Jesuit institution, has a number of speakers
lined up for their commencement ceremonies including Mayor of San Francisco Edwin Lee on May 18 and Congressman Lynn Woolsey on May 19. Both are supporters of abortion rights and same-sex “marriage.”
Woolsey, who has served as a congresswoman since 1993, will receive an honorary degree from the university. She has been one of the most radical pro-abortion rights voices in Congress. Woolsey co-sponsored
a bill in favor of funding embryonic stem cell research, she voted against
restricting interstate transport of minors to get abortions, and even voted against banning partial-birth abortion.
Woolsey even compared
abortions to a tonsillectomy, and she issued a statement
in 2008 saying she was “thrilled” that the courts overturned the ban on same-sex “marriage” in California.
In a 2009 Politico article
, Woolsey said the U.S. bishops managed to “bully” legislators in the Obamacare debate, and she urged the IRS to investigate the bishops.
San Francisco Mayor Lee has used his office to attack
pro-life crisis pregnancy centers. Last November, he signed the Pregnancy Information Disclosure and Protection Ordinance that could force crisis pregnancy centers accused of “misleading” advertising to declare publicly whether they provide abortions, abortion referrals and “emergency contraception.” NARAL Pro-Choice state director Amy Everitt cheered the law and praised Lee “for taking a stand as a pro-choice leader.”
Lee is also a public supporter of same-sex “marriage” who said
the effort to legalize it was a “fight for civil rights in our country.” In February he cheered
the California Supreme Court ruling overturning the voter-approved Proposition 8, declaring, “I celebrate the decision by the Ninth Circuit Court today. This is a great day for marriage equality and a great day for California families. …San Francisco stands ready to begin marrying same-sex couples.”
Catholic Education Daily is an online publication of The Cardinal Newman Society. Click here for email updates and free online membership with The Cardinal Newman Society.