As the University recently announced, Health and Human Services Secretary Kathleen Sebelius will be speaking at the Georgetown Public Policy Institute Tropaia awards ceremony next Friday. Although the awards event is not technically a “commencement” ceremony (since degrees will not be conferred), Sebelius was listed with the other commencement speakers in the University press-release. Sebelius is a staunch pro-choice advocate and championed reproductive rights issues in her term as governor of Kansas and, later, as HHS Secretary.
Prominent Catholics and conservative Catholic groups immediately criticized the University for its choice in Sebelius for graduation speaker. The Cardinal Newman Society has called the move a “direct challenge” to America’s Catholic bishops, and has created a website with a petition calling for Georgetown to revoke its invitation to the former governor. The petition has reportedly gathered 12,500 signatures.
One of the harshest challenges came from Princeton University’s Robert George, a man the New York Timescalled the United States’s “most influential conservative Christian thinker.” This past Sunday, on the Catholic Mirror of Justiceblog, he wrote:
The left-liberals who run the show at Georgetown have found a way to signal to the world that the nation’s oldest Catholic, and most famous Jesuit, university stands with the Obama administration in its war (to use, if I recall correctly, Kathleen Sebelius’s own word) against the Catholic bishops and others who oppose the HHS mandate as a violation of religious freedom and the rights of conscience (you know, the enemies of women’s “reproductive health”). By honoring Secretary Sebelius, they can help to undermine the bishops’ credibility and blunt the force of their witness as leaders of the Catholic church.
Last month, Dr. Hal C. Lawrence, executive vice president of the American Congress of Obstetricians and Gynecologists and a University professor, praised the Administration’s decision to require full contraceptive coverage without copay on all new insurance plans.
“The women of this country deserve no less than access to all comprehensive and clinically effective preventive care,” Lawrence said in an ACOG press release.
The Cardinal Newman Society, a conservative non-profit organization that seeks “to help renew and strengthen Catholic identity in Catholic higher education,” is predictably unenthusiastic.
The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops has already criticized what it sees an excessively narrow religious exemption. “Although this new rule gives the agency the discretion to authorize a ‘religious’ exemption, it is so narrow as to exclude most Catholic social service agencies and healthcare providers,” Cardinal Daniel N. DiNardo, chairman of the USCCB Committee on Pro-Life Activities, told LifeSiteNews.
The regulation will take effect beginning Aug. 1, 2012. It may include a conscience clause that would allow religious institutions to opt out of the coverage. However, the ACOG press release argued against such an exemption.
“Should a woman choose to use birth control, she should have access to all methods at no cost, as these guidelines insure,” reads the press release. “However, any exemption to religious-affiliated health plans from this contraceptive requirement erodes this right. ACOG recommends that no exemption be allowed and looks forward to resolving these concerns with HHS.”
The new regulation will encompass all Food and Drug Administration-approved contraception – including Plan B – as well as more comprehensive HIV and STI screenings, and domestic violence screening and care.
The Cardinal Newman Society, an organization dedicated to maintaining the religious character of the nation’s Catholic universities, will wrap up its Lenten Prayer Campaign for the Renewal of Catholic Colleges on Sunday.
The Cardinal Newman Society, a group that aims to “renew and strengthen Catholic identity in Catholic higher education,” is attacking Georgetown College’s recent video “Jesuits at Georgetown” over the opening line of the video.
At the beginning of the video, Fr. Ryan Maher, S.J., associate dean of the College, says, “Our job as educators, and as priests really, is not to bring God to people, or even to bring people to God. God’s already there and the people are already there. Our job, our way, of living out our educational vocation is to ask the right questions, and to help young people ask those questions.”
CNS jumped on this quote, writing that the video never makes it clear that the Jesuits at Georgetown are trying to “bring students to the fullness of truth in the Catholic faith.”
A recent study by the Georgetown University Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate (CARA) surveyed Catholic students to find out.
The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) interpreted the study to say that attending a Catholic University has, “little, if any, positive impact on a Catholic student’s acceptance or practice of his or her Catholic Faith.”
The CNS, already not our biggestfans, pointed out these findings at a recent conference of Catholic university presidents held in D.C.
“Everyone expects a Catholic college to be markedly different from a secular one. Students should be inspired to embrace and deepen their Catholic faith, not negotiate around Catholic moral teaching,” CNS President told The Examiner.
The Cardinal Newman Society, a conservative Catholic organization that complains about Georgetown University a lot, recently responded to the Georgetown University Student Association’s proposal about the possibility of gender-blind housing.
In a blog post published yesterday, CNS claimed it is Georgetown’s responsibility as a Catholic institution to promote the virtue of chastity on campus.
“Unfortunately, many Catholic universities already have very lax, if not non-existent, male/female [visitation] policies for dorm life,” the group wrote. “Allowing ‘gender-blind’ housing would only serve to institutionalize the hook-up culture which sadly pervades much of Catholic higher education.”
Despite my frequent bursts of bile, I have always considered you as a playful adversary and was forced to concede the fact you are the best damn publication on this campus. That you would stoop this low by hiring a perverted attention whore makes me not so much angry, but disappointed.
Catholics for Equality, a not-for-profit group formed in 2010, seeks to foster support for same-sex marriage and other LGBT causes in the Catholic community, specifically targeting students at Catholic colleges and universities.
The surprise? A Georgetown professor helped create the group.
In a new study that has conservative Catholic groups very alarmed, Georgetown researchers are reporting that Catholic students who attend Catholic Universities are not much more likely to support Catholic teaching than their counterparts at non-Catholic colleges and universities.
The Bulletin—”Philadelphia’s Family Newspaper”—writes:
“The [Georgetown University Center for Applied Research in the Apostolate] study largely confirms a 2003 study released by The Cardinal Newman Society, which found significant declines in students’ support for Catholic moral teaching on abortion, marriage and sexuality after four years at a Catholic college or university. The declines were generally greater at non-Catholic private and public institutions.
“According to the CARA report, 16 percent of students at Catholic colleges and universities become more pro-life and more convinced of traditional marriage, whereas 31 percent become more supportive of legal abortion and 39 percent embrace same-sex ‘marriage.’ Only 7 percent increase attendance at religious services, while 32 percent reduce attendance. Eight percent of Catholic students leave the Catholic faith while attending a Catholic institution.”
CARA researchers also found that attending Catholic college has no statistically significant effect on students’ support for abortion, the death penalty and same-sex marriage. “Students report some improvement in attending religious services (not necessarily Catholic), reading about religion and spirituality (not necessarily Catholic) and deeming it ‘important to improve the human condition’—a concern that is presumably shared outside the Catholic faith,” The Bulletin writes.
“Catholics should be alarmed by the significant declines in Catholic practice and fidelity at many of America’s Catholic institutions,” Patrick Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society shown above with the Pope, said when the finding were presented at the annual conference of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.
“Everyone expects a Catholic college to be markedly different from a secular one. Students should be inspired to embrace and deepen their Catholic faith, not negotiate around Catholic moral teaching.”
“Even as Notre Dame publicly snubs the Catholic bishops, Georgetown appears to be saying, ‘Me, too!,’” said Patrick Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society. “Just last week, Georgetown covered the name of Jesus Christ at the request of the White House. Scandal after scandal at Georgetown, including the stunning 2007 law school policy that offers paid internships for students to work at organizations that advocate for abortion rights, has severely compromised its integrity as a Catholic institution.”