Catholic college commencement wars: 2006

Catholic college commencement wars: 2006

The Cardinal Newman Society says that the war over commencements at Catholic colleges is getting better.

In 2006, CNS research uncovered problems at 24 colleges with speakers or honorees who publicly advocated for abortion rights, embryonic stem-cell research, physician-assisted suicide, homosexual marriage, women’s ordination or other issues contrary to Catholic values.

By contrast, this year CNS has so far only had to alert the presidents of 11 Catholic colleges to problems with 12 commencement speakers or honorees. CNS also commended 14 colleges for honoring Vatican leaders, bishops and leading Catholic thinkers including University of Notre Dame philosopher Ralph McInerny and Rev. Richard John Neuhaus of First Things.

In addition, Bishop Salvatore Matano of Burlington, Vermont, has already refused the invitation of St. Michael’s College, which is giving honorary degrees to journalist Cokie Roberts and Vermont Gov. Jim Douglas.

Is this a sign that Catholics in Political Life is indeed being heeded?

Any here’s a list of the problem commencements:

  • College of Mount Saint Joseph (Ohio): Hamilton County Coroner O’Dell Owens, in vitro fertilization pioneer
  • College of Saint Mary (Nebraska): Roberta Wilhelm, Executive Director of Girls Inc. of Omaha, pro-abortion, pro-contraception group.
  • Loyola University New Orleans (Louisiana): NAACP Chairman Julian Bond, pro-abortion
  • Marian Court College (Massachusetts): U.S. Rep. John Tierney, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-the usual stuff of liberal Democrats
  • Marquette University (Wisconsin): Former Wisconsin Secretary of State Vel Phillips, pro-gay marriage, pro-abortion
  • Ohio Dominican University (Ohio): Boston College theology professor Rev. David Hollenbach, S.J., opposed *Ex Corde Ecclesia* mandatum, dissent on abortion
  • Regis College (Massachusetts): Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, pro-abortion, pro-gay marriage, pro-embryonic stem cell research
  • Saint Michael’s College (Vermont): Journalist Cokie Roberts, “has publicly attacked Pope Benedict XVI as ‘really lacking in the theological virtue of charity,’ ‘an extremely controversial choice’ and ‘the most conservative voice of Catholicism’”, pro-abortion; Vermont Governor Jim Douglas, pro-abortion
  • The Graduate School, University of Notre Dame, (Indiana): Mary Sue Coleman, President of the University of Michigan, pro-embryonic stem cell research, pro-gay special rights
  • Villanova University (Pennsylvania): Chris Matthews, host of MSNBC’s Hardball With Chris Matthews, pro-abortion
  • Walsh University (Ohio): Rabbi John Spitzer, pro-gay marriage

Here’s the list of commendable colleges and speakers and honorees:

  • Assumption College (Massachusetts): Ralph McInerny, Philosopher, University of Notre Dame
  • Ave Maria University (Florida): Rev. Richard John Neuhaus, Editor, First Things
  • Canisius College (New York): Bishop Edward Kmiec of Buffalo
  • Christendom College (Virginia): Rev. George Rutler, author & lecturer
  • Fordham University (New York): Archbishop Celestino Migliore, Apostolic Nuncio to United Nations
  • Franciscan University of Steubenville (Ohio): Archbishop Timothy Dolan of Milwaukee
  • Mount St. Mary’s University (Maryland): Archbishop Pietro Sambi, Apostolic Nuncio to United States
  • St. Ambrose University (Ohio): Bishop Martin Amos of Davenport
  • St. Mary’s College of California: retired Bishop John Cummins of Oakland
  • Seton Hall University (New Jersey): Cardinal Oscar Andres Rodriguez of Tegucigalpa, Honduras
  • Spring Hill College (Alabama): Archbishop Oscar Lipscomb of Mobile
  • Thomas Aquinas College (California): Archbishop Albert Ranjith, Congregation for Divine Worship
  • Univ. of Portland (Oregon): Archbishop John Foley, Pontifical Council for Social Communications
  • University of St. Francis (Indiana): Bishop John D’Arcy of Fort Wayne-South Bend

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1 comment
  • My second daughter graduated yesterday (magna cum laude – if I may boast a bit !) from Seton Hall University and I was priveleged and blessed to hear Cardinal Rodriguez of Honduras give a wonderful, faith filled and very Catholic commencement address. He preached the Gospel with vigor and courage and proclaimed the dignity of the human person, to an audience that gave him a polite round of applause. Later I was told that someone in the audience booed him.

    My daughter tells me that Seton Hall is trying to enhance its reputation as a Catholic University and working on establishing a stronger Catholic identity. Compared to Franciscan University, the alma mater of my oldest daughter, they have a long way to go.