Monday, May 02, 2005

Finally Taking A Stand...

College Honoring Clinton Declared 'No Longer Catholic'

By Randy Hall Staff Writer/Editor
April 29, 2005

( - The Catholic college that offered to give U.S. Democratic Sen. Hillary Clinton of New York an honorary doctoral degree was formally dropped as a Roman Catholic institution on Thursday.

Two sources have confirmed for Cybercast News Service that Marymount Manhattan College (MMC) in New York City will no longer be listed in "The Official Catholic Directory," which identifies institutions formally recognized as Catholic.

As Cybercast News Service previously reported, the school announced plans to give Sen. Clinton a special degree on Friday, May 20, when she is also scheduled to deliver the college's commencement address.

"The decision to honor one of Congress's most outspoken and strident advocates of abortion 'rights' was just the latest episode in a long history of secularization at Marymount Manhattan College," said Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society and one of the sources who confirmed the archdiocese's action.

"Why the college chose to remain officially Catholic while turning traitor against the Catholic Church, I cannot say," Reilly said.

Reilly wrote to New York Cardinal Edward Egan on April 14, suggesting "immediate action to prevent scandal in the Archdiocese of New York." Though he asked the cardinal to consider advising the college privately to withdraw Clinton's invitation, Reilly acknowledged that the school might have to be declared no longer Catholic.

Reilly said the college's actions defied the "Catholics in Political Life" statement that was approved by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops in 2004.

"The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles," the bishops' statement said. "They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."

On Thursday, Reilly concluded that the archdiocese's decision marked "a good day for those seeking truth and clarity." However, he said it was also "a sad day for Catholics, who founded, attended and funded this college only to be turned away for the sake of government funding and private ambitions.

Fania Tavarez, assistant to the vice-president for institutional advancement at MMC, also confirmed the ruling from the archdiocese. In a prepared statement, Tavarez defended the school as "an independent, non-sectarian, private liberal arts college.

"Throughout the year, Marymount Manhattan invites speakers of all political persuasions to speak on campus," she added. "Such diversity of opinion strengthens the critical thinking skills of our students," who are "very excited" to have Sen. Clinton as their commencement speaker.

"She has worked diligently on behalf of New Yorkers and the nation, and the college community looks forward to hearing her message," Tavarez concluded.

According to Reilly, MMC employees had been rebuffing protesters of the Clinton honors by claiming that the school has not been Catholic since 1961, when it separated from its parent institution -- Marymount College of Tarrytown, N.Y., -- and its founding women's religious order, the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary.

Reilly responded that in fact, the college's actions in 1961 were similar to those of most other Catholic institutions throughout the country that incorporated separate from the church to qualify for state government funding.

"The vast majority of those colleges continue to claim a Catholic identity while slowly secularizing, and Marymount Manhattan College is not much different," he said. "Any apparent trace of its Catholic identity has disappeared over time, even though until today, it preserved its official status as Catholic, possibly to avoid alienating its Catholic alumni and donors.

Reilly added that there was "tremendous value" to identifying "wayward Catholic institutions as no longer Catholic, as Cardinal Egan has done so courageously.

"If Sen. Clinton had a similar degree of dignity," he noted, "she might have declined the college's honor out of respect for faithful Catholics who are appalled by her stridency on abortion and embryonic stem cell research.

This is the fourth time since Pope John Paul II issued "Ex Corde Ecclesiae," the apostolic constitution on church universities, that a bishop has declared a historically Catholic college or university to be no longer Catholic. The 1990 document gives local bishops the responsibility of determining whether colleges can be called "Catholic."

Catholic colleges established prior to 1990 are assumed to be Catholic and to conform sufficiently to the guidelines until a bishop declares otherwise.

Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., was declared "no longer Catholic" by Egan in 2003, following a similar protest by the Cardinal Newman Society of the college's commencement speaker, New York State Democratic Attorney General Elliott Spitzer.

The society also protested Spitzer as the commencement speaker at Marymount Manhattan College last year, but no public action was taken by the archdiocese and the college took no step to end its affiliation with the Catholic Church.

Two other historically Catholic colleges in Rochester, New York -- Nazareth College and Saint John Fisher College -- have been declared no longer Catholic by Bishop Matthew Clark.

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Catholic Group Protesting 17 Commencement Speakers, Honorees at Catholic Schools
By Melanie Hunter Deputy Managing Editor
May 12, 2005

( - A Catholic group that called on a Catholic school not to award Sen. Hillary Clinton an honorary degree for her pro-abortion views is protesting 17 commencement speakers and honorees for running counter to the Catholic Church's teachings.

Loyola University of Chicago, Loyola Marymount University and Cardinal Stritch University have been added to the list of schools that invited controversial speakers compiled by the Cardinal Newman Society, a national organization dedicated to the renewal of Catholic identity at the nation's 219 Catholic colleges and universities.

"We are blowing the whistle on any Catholic college or university that blatantly disrespects the bishops by defying their clear command and teaching," said Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society.

"After decades of scandal at secularizing colleges, last June the bishops drew a line in the sand. No college that crosses that line deserves the label 'Catholic' or the support of the faithful - most especially monetary support," Reilly said.

The Graduate School at Loyola University of Chicago invited a Leroy Hood, a biotech researcher who is a leading advocate of a Washington state law that would allow embryonic stem cell research, to deliver the school's commencement address and receive an honorary degree on May 19.

Hood, who is also president of the Institute for Systems Biology in Seattle, Wash., co-signed a 1999 letter published in "Science" magazine calling on Congress to approve federal funding for embryonic stem cell research.

The Loyola Marymount University law school in Los Angeles, invited California Attorney General Bill Lockyer to deliver its commencement address on May 15.

Lockyer is suing the federal government to block a federal law that would cut off about $49 billion in federal funds if California punishes health care providers and insurance companies that refuse to provide, cover or give referrals for abortions.

The attorney general called the law "an unacceptable attack on women's rights and state sovereignty, and a backdoor attempt to overturn Roe v. Wade."

Also during his first days in office, Lockyer reversed state policy and ordered public school districts in the state that they cannot require officials to notify a parent when a student leaves school to obtain an abortion or get care related to reproductive health.

In addition, Lockyer has spoken publicly about his support for homosexual "marriage," and said that he only defended the state's one man, one woman marriage law because it is his duty.

Author and syndicated newspaper columnist who publicly advocated abortion rights will deliver the commencement address at Cardinal Stritch University in Wisconsin on May 15.

In a 2003 column about Terri Schiavo, the brain-damaged woman in Florida whose feeding tube was later removed which led to her starving to death, Jacquelyn Mitchard, wrote: "I don't believe every life is sacred. I think some brains are so damaged that their owners can't truly use them as intended..."

Mitchard added that despite the posters that "say abortion stops a beating heard, a beating heart stopped before (long before) a conceptus becomes an unborn child is better than a heart stopped later by a beating...And so though every abortion is a tragedy, even tot eh woman who chooses to terminate a pregnancy, there's a reason abortion exists."

Helen Thomas, Cicely Tyson, Richard Riordan among disputed speakers, honorees

There are 14 other disputed commencement speakers and honorees cited by the Cardinal Newman Society.

White House journalist Helen Thomas, who in her columns has defended the Supreme Court decision in Roe v. Wade legalizing abortion, will deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree on May 15 at Cabrini College in Pennsylvania. Thomas has criticized President Bush for stopping aid for foreign abortion facilities.

Actress Cicely Tyson, an advocate for Planned Parenthood and its contraceptive and abortion services, will receive an honorary degree on May 26 at the College of New Rochelle in New York. During a 2002 Planned Parenthood fundraiser, she said, "Sex is a part of life. It's just like eating or drinking, and it shouldn't be treated any differently."

Former Los Angeles mayor and current California Education Secretary Richard Riordan, who will be the commencement speaker and receive an honorary degree on May 14 at the Dominican University of California, campaigned as "pro-choice" candidate and advocated state-funded abortions.

Riordan opposed Proposition 22, a statewide initiative defining marriage as a union between one man and one woman. He also said he was "open to discussion" of civil unions and advocated expanding benefits under the state's domestic partners law.

Wisconsin Court of Appeals Judge Paul Higginbotham will deliver the commencement address on May 15 at Edgewood College in Wisconsin.

Higginbotham campaigned for a seat of the Wisconsin Supreme Court in 2003 and reportedly "said he believes in abortion rights, and would do what he could to deal with limitations placed on abortion by the Legislature." The pro-abortion group National Organization for Woman backed his candidacy.

Former New York Times reporter Peter Steinfels and former Commonweal editor Margaret O'Brien Steinfels will deliver the commencement address and receive honorary degrees from Le Moyne College in New York on May 22. They are both defenders of dissent within the Catholic Church.

Rudy Giuliani, Cokie Roberts, Gary Locke also expected to speak

Former New York City Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, who has publicly expressed his support for abortion rights and special rights for homosexuals, has been invited by Loyola College in Maryland to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree on May 20. "I'm pro-choice. I'm pro-gay rights," he said in a 1999 interview on CNN.

Former New Orleans mayor and current Housing and Urban Development Secretary Maurice "Moon" Landrieu, his daughter Sen. Mary Landrieu, and her son Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitchell Landrieu will all receive an honorary degree from Loyola University of New Orleans School of Law on May 13.

Although she voted for the partial-birth abortion ban, Sen. Landrieu supported amendments to the measure that would have provided the "morning-after pill" and would have affirmed Roe v. Wade. Mitchell Landrieu voted against a law banning abortion except in cases of rape, incest and to save the life of the mother.

Journalist Cokie Roberts, who recently criticized Pope Benedict XVI for being "an extremely controversial choice" and "the most conservative voice of Catholicism," will deliver the commencement address on May 22 and receive an honorary degree from Marquette University in Wisconsin.

Sara Lawrence-Lightfoot, chairwoman of the John D. & Catherine T. MacArthur Foundation, will be the commencement speaker and receive an honorary degree on May 15 at Regis College in Massachusetts.

The MacArthur Foundation's Population and Reproductive Health grant program is a leading contributor to international groups advocating abortion, contraception and population control, including the Center for Reproductive Rights, the International Planned Parenthood Federation, the Population Council and the UN Population Fund.

Former U.S. congressman Amory Houghton, who voted against making it a crime to harm an unborn baby during another crime and opposed a ban on human cloning for reproduction and medical research, will receive an honorary degree on May 15 at St. Bonaventure University in New York.

Houghton was also an advocate for embryonic stem cell research, requiring insurance companies to provide contraceptive coverage for women, and homosexual civil unions. When he retired in 2004, Houghton was praised for his "consistent vote for choice" by the Republican Majority for Choice.

Theologian Sr. Margaret Farley, an outspoken dissenter from Catholic teaching on sexual morality and human life, plans to deliver the commencement address on May 21 at Saint Xavier University in Illinois.

Farley argued for the cloning and embryonic stem cell research. She also signed a 1984 "Catholics for a Free Choice" statement, which was published in the New York Times, defending Catholics who support abortion rights.

Former Washington Gov. Gary Locke, who opposed legislation banning partial-birth abortion and a measure requiring that parents be notified before girls can get an abortion, will deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree on June 13 at Seattle University in Washington.

Ireland President Mary McAleese, an advocate for homosexual rights and women preists, will be the commencement speaker and receive an honorary degree on May 22 at Villanova University in Pennsylvania.

And Sr. Elizabeth Johnson, a distinguished professor of theology at Fordham University who argued against the church's teaching on male-only priesthood, will receive an honorary degree on May 22 at Villanova University.