Cardinal Newman Society calls for Georgetown to rescind AFL-CIO President John Sweeney’s honorary degree

John Sweeney: Lovable labor leader, or enemy of Catholic doctrine?

Next Thursday, Georgetown will be giving an honorary Doctor of Law degree to AFL-CIO President John Sweeney for his dedication to fighting for better working conditions and human rights for workers. Sounds like some harmless, feel-good ceremony, right? Not to the Cardinal Newman Society.

The conservative Catholic organization which is “dedicated to renewing and strengthening Catholic identity at America’s 224 Catholic colleges and universities,” caught wind of our plans yesterday and called for Georgetown to rescind the honor.

Why the hubbub? The Cardinal Newman Society believes the AFL-CIO’s pro-gay marriage and pro-contraception stances are at odds with Catholic doctrine and should disqualify Sweeney from receiving an honorary degree from Georgetown:

“The Catholic bishops have made it abundantly clear that Catholic universities are not to publicly honor leading opponents of Catholic moral principles, said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS). “We strongly urge Georgetown to uphold its Catholic mission and rescind the honor to John Sweeney.”

According to Georgetown’s Director of Media Relations, the University disagrees with CNS’s condemnation. In an email Pino writes:

This criticism is totally unwarranted. Georgetown University awards honorary degrees based on an individual’s distinguished accomplishments over the course of his or her career. Throughout his career, John Sweeney has championed the needs of working people, demonstrating his commitment to principles of Catholic social teaching such as social justice and social equality.

Read the rest of Pino’s response after the jump!

Here’s Pino’s full email:

This criticism is totally unwarranted. Georgetown University awards honorary degrees based on an individual’s distinguished accomplishments over the course of his or her career. Throughout his career, John Sweeney has championed the needs of working people, demonstrating his commitment to principles of Catholic social teaching such as social justice and social equality.

Mr. Sweeney has often spoken of the importance of his Catholic faith and his own commitment to the social teachings of the Catholic Church. His service with the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops Committee on Domestic Justice and Human Development, Catholic Alliance for the Common Good, and participation in a Vatican conference on social justice are several examples of that lived commitment.

As a Catholic and Jesuit University, Georgetown seeks to educate students to be women and men for others. John Sweeney’s career embodies this in his commitment to fight for social justice, workers rights and immigration reform among many other issues.

10 Comments on “Cardinal Newman Society calls for Georgetown to rescind AFL-CIO President John Sweeney’s honorary degree

  1.  by  Jared Pilosio

    Evidently the Cardinal Newman Society hasn’t heard of the papal bull Rerum Novarum…

  2.  by  Ryan

    This has gotten so predictable – Georgetown hosts or honors a liberal figure and the Cardinal Newman Society condemns the University. The Society’s press releases must be starting to look like Vox’s Monday Mad-Libs: “We strongly urge Georgetown to uphold its Catholic mission and rescind the [honor/invitation] to [Name of Liberal Figure].” Don’t they have something better to do with their time?

  3.  by  Danny Gustafson

    I think the Cardinal Newman Society generally tries to simply ignore just about every aspect of Catholic teaching, preferring to attempt to hoist their own agenda on Catholic universities.

  4.  by  Tim

    Danny,
    I thought Catholicism was just about who and under what conditions it is wrong to bone down. You mean there’s more?

  5.  by  Patrick

    This is a bit of a stretch. I don’t agree with them, but I can understand them criticizing the head of, say, Planned Parenthood or GLAAD. However the AFL-CIO is not an organization really concerned with abortion, gay marriage or other topics the Cardinal Newman Society opposes. I agree with Ryan there, this is getting fairly predictable.

  6.  by  Dallas

    Here we go again. I think that CNS does this just so that people still realize that it exists. If it runs out of manufactured controversies to promulgate, it loses its legitimacy.

  7. Pingback: Vox Populi » On the record with John DeGioia: The extended edition

  8.  by  Butch Servoss

    There are 164 professed Catholics in the legislative branch of our government. They are the largest religious group by far in the congress and senate. It seems to me that the Church should be putting pressure on them to rescind these immoral laws and either live up to their Catholic heritage or renounce their membership to the Church. The hypocrisy of proclaiming your religious beliefs and then voting in favor of abortion and the acceptance of homosexuality as an acceptable “alternative life style” is a slap in the face of every Bible believing Christian, and a dark mark on the membership of the Catholic Church. If they are going to vote like immoral pagans, then they have no right to call themselves Christians.

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