Author Archives: CNS Staff

Founded in 1993, the mission of The Cardinal Newman Society is to help renew and strengthen Catholic identity in Catholic higher education.

Michael Schwartz, Former Advisor to Cardinal Newman Society, Died Sunday

Michael Schwartz, a steadfast advocate for the Catholic Church and pro-family policies in Washington, D.C., and a good friend of The Cardinal Newman Society, reportedly died Sunday after a tough battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease).

Schwartz served more than a decade as chief of staff to pro-life Senator Tom Coburn after many years at the Free Congress Foundation. He was instrumental to the founding of The Cardinal Newman Society in 1993 and served on the Advisory Board for many years. On January 25, Schwartz was recognized for his lifetime of pro-life leadership by the National Pro-Life Religious Council.

According to an announcement from the Capitol Hill group Faith and Law:

It is with sadness that we inform you that Michael Schwartz went home to be with the Lord. After a year-and-a-half battle with ALS (Lou Gehrig’s disease), Mike finished his race today.

Mike, Chief of Staff to Senator Tom Coburn, was a devout Catholic who loved the Lord deeply. He was active teaching adult catechism in his home parish. Mike fought valiantly for the unborn from the advent of legalized abortion in America. He was an avid reader of the most rigorous books and essays, reading a book or two each week. He relished discussions about God, the Supreme Court, and politics. He was a friend of the high and mighty and the lowly and powerless alike. He was a loving husband, father, and grandfather.

See, below, Senator Coburn’s tribute to Mike on the Senate floor.

CNS Encourages Participation in Bishops’ Pro-Life Video Contest

The Cardinal Newman Society is encouraging Catholic high schools to promote the U.S. bishops’ youth video contest commemorating the tragic 40th anniversary of the Supreme Court decision Roe v. Wade.

“Public witness to our faith is one of the trademarks which identify us and our institutions as being Catholic,” said Bob Laird, programs director at The Cardinal Newman Society, citing the Letter of Saint James: “What good is it to profess faith without practicing it?” (James 2:14). Laird manages the Catholic High School Honor Roll and has encouraged participants to get their students involved in the bishops’ pro-life video contest.

The contest was mentioned in the announcement by the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops that Catholics would share in nine days of prayer, penance and pilgrimage between January 19 and 27. Students’ 30- to 60-second videos should illustrate what it means to students to participate in this year’s anniversary events and why their participation has “special meaning for them during this Year of Faith.”

A youth video contest is open to middle and high school students, who are invited to submit a 30-60-second video that should be recorded while participating in activities surrounding the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. Details of the contest are available at www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/january-roe-events/video-contest-for-high-school-age-pilgrims.cfm. Also, young adults are encouraged to use their Facebook profile pictures to support the sanctity of life. Details are available at www.usccb.org/about/pro-life-activities/january-roe-events/upload/Pro-Life-Profiles-Flyer.pdf.

The Catholic High School Honor Roll was created by The Acton Institute in 2004 and assumed by The Cardinal Newman Society in 2012. The program promotes and recognizes strong academics and Catholic identity in high schools.

Bishops Announce Pro-Life ‘Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage’

The pro-life committee of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops is inviting us to prayer beginning Saturday, to end the terrible sin of abortion:

The U.S. bishops’ Committee on Pro-Life Activities urges Catholics nationwide to participate in Nine Days of Prayer, Penance and Pilgrimage, January 19-27, marking the 40th anniversary of Roe v. Wade. The intentions for these nine days will be for healing and conversion, for elected officials who support abortion and for all people whose lives have been forever changed by an abortion.

 “The bishops recognize that prayer is the foundation of all our efforts on behalf of human life,” said Tom Grenchik, executive director of the Secretariat of Pro-Life Activities of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops (USCCB). “These nine days of focused prayer and sacrifice are a great opportunity for people across the nation to unite their voices in prayer to God. Through this prayer campaign, I hope that many will be blessed with a new spirit of faith and encouragement in their pro-life efforts.”

 Key events during the Nine Days are the National Prayer Vigil for Life, January 24-25 (http://www.usccb.org/prayer-and-worship/resources/index.cfm), and the Rally and March for Life, January 25 (http://www.marchforlife.org), all being held in Washington.

Veteran Journalist Named Editor of Education News Source for Catholic Families

Award-winning Catholic journalist and author Tim Drake has been named Senior Editor and Director of News Operations for The Cardinal Newman Society, charged with the important task of informing Catholic families and clergy about news and trends in Catholic education. He will begin January 23.

“Catholic families have a right to authentic, faithful Catholic education, and for 20 years The Cardinal Newman Society has worked to give them the information they need,” said Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick J. Reilly. “I can’t think of a single person who is better qualified and prepared to improve and expand our operations than Tim Drake. We are thrilled to have him on our team.”

For the past 13 years, Drake has served as features correspondent, editor, staff writer and senior writer with the National Catholic Register. The Register, acquired last year by the Eternal Word Television Network (EWTN), has long been a leader in Catholic news journalism and one of the best sources for reporting on Catholic education. A series of Register articles on implementation of the mandatum, a canon law requirement for Catholic theology professors, earned Drake the 2003 Ex corde Ecclesiae Award from The Cardinal Newman Society.

Drake will edit The Cardinal Newman Society’s online news reporting at CardinalNewmanSociety.org, as well as member communications. With a unique emphasis on Catholic education, The Cardinal Newman Society will continue to share important news with Catholic families and outstanding media outlets including the National Catholic Register, EWTN, Our Sunday Visitor, Catholic World News, Catholic News Agency, CNSNews.com, LifeSite News, Life News and others.

“I am absolutely delighted to be utilizing my talents and experience on behalf of The Cardinal Newman Society,” Drake said. “I am fully aware of their critical support for the Church and all that they do to promote and strengthen Catholic identity on college and university campuses. It’s vital work for the future of our campuses, the Church and our country. There’s no other organization like it.”

Drake’s articles have appeared in publications such as Faith and Family magazine, Our Sunday Visitor, Catholic World Report, Catholic Digest, Columbia Magazine, Gilbert! Magazine, This Rock Magazine and many others. He has been a frequent guest on both television and radio, including Vatican Radio, FOX News, Relevant Radio, EWTN and Sirius XM Satellite Radio’s The Catholic Channel. He was co-host of the weekly EWTN radio program “Register Radio.”

Drake has published six books, including Behind Bella: The Amazing Stories of Bella and the Lives It’s Changed(Ignatius Press, 2008), Young and Catholic: The Face of Tomorrow’s Church (Sophia Institute Press, 2004) and Saints of the Jubilee (AuthorHouse, 2002). He has contributed to several others, including The Cardinal Newman Society’s most recent Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.

Among Drake’s awards for his outstanding work include the Aquinas Senior Fellow Award, the Bernadin-O’Connor Award for Pro-Life Journalism, the 1st Books Library Bestseller Award and the Ida B. Davis Ethnic Heritage Writing Award.

Drake also has experience as an educator in both Catholic and public middle and high schools, and as an employee of Hamline University. He earned a Minnesota license to teach social science to grades 7-12.

Founded in 1993, the mission of The Cardinal Newman Society is to promote and defend faithful Catholic education.

Saint Joseph’s College Statement on New Logo

Responding to a Cardinal Newman Society report on the new, secular logo announced by Saint Joseph’s College in Maine, the College has provided a statement reaffirming its commitment to its Catholic mission and explaining that the new logo does not replace the College Seal.

The College’s new logo gives no indication that the College is Catholic, aside from the College name. Whereas the College’s marketing materials had featured the College Seal, including a cross on a shield with the motto “Fortitudo et Spes” (meaning “Fortitude and Hope”), the new logo simply features an abstract shield with five gold bars.

But the 100-year-old College Seal has not been changed and will continue to be used for certain purposes by the College.

Today’s statement from Saint Joseph’s College reads:

In 2013, Saint Joseph’s College is implementing a series of outreach activities to expand its presence in New England and beyond to attract more students to the college. Part of this outreach effort is the establishment of a logo and new font style for the College to be used in conjunction with the College Seal.

While this logo will be used to identify the College in an ever-increasing competitive higher education marketplace, the College Seal is not being removed from the identity of Saint Joseph’s College; it remains a significant, relevant and vibrant marker of the College, and it will continue to be used.

Saint Joseph’s College represents the personalized, supportive education that our students have come to expect. The College is committed to its mission, values, and the tradition of the Sisters of Mercy and the heritage of the Roman Catholic Church and will continue to do so now and into the future.  This is demonstrated in the way we speak about the distinctiveness of our Catholic-Mercy mission on our website, in our promotional materials and in the good works our faculty, staff, students and alumni do in the community.

“In no way are we trying to water down and not say who we are,” said Sister Kathleen Sullivan, RSM, vice president for sponsorship and mission integration. She told The Cardinal Newman Society that marketing materials for the College will significantly promote its Catholic identity and sponsorship by the Sisters of Mercy.

Study: Most Catholic Colleges No Longer Require Catholic Theology

Catholic colleges that have maintained a strong religious identity also have the strongest core curricula, according to a new study from The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS). The study finds that students at most other U.S. Catholic colleges can avoid the study of Catholic theology altogether.

Dr. Kimberly Shankman, dean of Benedictine College and a research fellow for the CNS Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education, finds that Catholic colleges generally devote a larger share of undergraduate requirements to general education than other U.S. colleges.  Many also require particular courses for all students instead of offering a menu of electives, as is common in most American colleges today.

But when compared to a subset of Catholic colleges with very strong religious identity—those recommended in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, a publication of The Cardinal Newman Society—most Catholic colleges offer significantly less comprehensive and coherent core curricula. Dr. Shankman found that 78 percent of the Newman Guide colleges require 55 credit hours or more for general education, whereas 75 percent of other Catholic colleges require 44 credit hours or fewer.

“It is no coincidence that the colleges most committed to Catholic education devote a larger share of courses to the liberal arts—especially Catholic theology and philosophy—than to specialized studies,” said CNS President Patrick J. Reilly. “Dean Shankman’s work underscores the distinctions among Catholic colleges and the need to rediscover the liberal arts as essential to personal growth, intellectual development and even career preparation.”

Published at CatholicHigherEd.org, the study “General Education at Catholic Colleges and Universities” includes the shocking finding that while many Catholic colleges still require some study of theology and philosophy—traditional hallmarks of a Catholic education—most allow students to fulfill “theology” requirements by studying something other than Catholic theology. Every Newman Guide college in the study requires all students to study Catholic theology, but 61 percent of other Catholic colleges do not.

The CNS Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education facilitates collaboration among Catholic college and university leaders to share, formulate and promote policies and programs that strengthen and preserve Catholic identity.

Pro-Obama Election Bias Among Catholic College Employees

A new report finds that employees at Catholic colleges who donated to presidential campaigns in 2012 gave overwhelmingly to President Barack Obama, despite his clear differences with Mitt Romney and the Catholic Church on abortion, marriage and religious freedom.

The report at CampusReform.org looks at the “top 23” Catholic colleges, but it is not clear how they were selected. Bias in favor of President Obama is found especially at Georgetown University, where 288 employees gave to his campaign—35 percent of the total Obama donors at all 23 colleges—and only 39 employees gave to Romney. Other colleges weighted heavily toward Obama include the University of Notre Dame (89-9), Boston College (84-7) and Fordham University (66-4).

The study requires some clarification, however. It notes that employees at the University of Dallas (Tex.)—recommended in The Newman Guide for strong Catholic identity—are among the employees at five colleges who gave 100 percent of donations to President Obama. But the report shows only one donation (which went to Obama) from an employee at the University of Dallas. That’s 100 percent, but hardly worth highlighting.

 

Belmont Abbey College dramatically cuts tuition rate

Belmont Abbey College announced on Nov. 28 that it is reducing its annual tuition cost to $18,500 beginning in Fall 2013. This represents an almost $10,000 per year reduction in the College’s published tuition price for incoming freshmen and transfer students.

“Over the past 25 years, average college tuition and fees in the United States has increased more than 440 percent,” said President William Thierfelder. “At more than four times the rate of inflation, that’s not sustainable for the average American family, so it’s time to reverse the trend.”

Similar-sized colleges have announced tuition resets over the past two years, largely due to declining enrollment numbers. However, Belmont Abbey’s reduction in tuition “sticker price” comes at a time of growth for the school, which had its highest traditional undergraduate enrollment ever in 2012. This fall also saw considerable capital improvements such as a new dining hall, fitness facility and renovated student center. Two new residence halls will open in Fall 2013 to accommodate the increasing number of resident students.

A 2012 College Board Student Poll of college-bound seniors found more than half had ruled out colleges on sticker price alone without considering potential financial aid awards.
“While we may not be the first private institution to scale back tuition to close the gap between published tuition price and actual cost, our goal is increasing accessibility, not boosting enrollment,” said Dr. Thierfelder. “Belmont Abbey College’s tuition reset is a strategic move toward providing an outstanding private college education at an affordable price.”

Blessed Newman, Master of Disguise?

The thoughts and writings of Blessed Cardinal John Henry Newman have great relevance to the Church today, especially regarding the scourge of “liberalism” as he labeled the rationalist/secularist mindset in academia more than a century ago. Read his sermon “The Infidelity of the Future” and consider the relevance to today’s crises of secularism, religious freedom and clergy sex abuse.

So it’s not surprising that “progressives” in the Church today—many of whom seem to have as much a problem with Catholic doctrine and practice as they do with perceived clericalism—prefer a rather distorted view of Newman. Newman is easy to distort and misquote, which ironically is what one National Catholic Reporter columnist (a former journalism professor at a secular university) now accuses The Cardinal Newman Society of doing.

Sadly there’s not much worthy of debate here, because NCR throws out charges without substantiation and forgoes even the assemblage of out-of-context Newman quotes that usually accompany such claims. The posthumous attempt to make Newman a “progressive,” at least the label is used today, is silly and has already been debunked by the best scholars.

But the occasion does seem a good opportunity to encourage attention to Newman and his “idea” of a university. Here are some links to get started:

– Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly lecture at the Portsmouth Institute on “Newman and the Renewal of Catholic Higher Education,” June 2010

– Rev. Peter M. J. Stravinskas on “Ex corde Ecclesiae: Echoes of Newman’s The Idea of a University,” CNS Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education, October 2009

– His Eminence Avery Cardinal Dulles, S.J., on “Newman’s Idea of a University: Still Relevant to Catholic Higher Education,” at The Cardinal Newman Society national conference, November 2001

And a few quotes from our two great professor-popes:

Pope Benedict XVI on Newman

“Firmly opposed to any reductive or utilitarian approach, [Newman] sought to achieve an educational environment in which intellectual training, moral discipline and religious commitment would come together. The project to found a Catholic University in Ireland provided him with an opportunity to develop his ideas on the subject, and the collection of discourses that he published as The Idea of a University holds up an ideal from which all those engaged in academic formation can continue to learn. And indeed, what better goal could teachers of religion set themselves than Blessed John Henry’s famous appeal for an intelligent, well-instructed laity: “I want a laity, not arrogant, not rash in speech, not disputatious, but men who know their religion, who enter into it, who know just where they stand, who know what they hold and what they do not, who know their creed so well that they can give an account of it, who know so much of history that they can defend it” (The Present Position of Catholics in England, ix, 390). On this day when the author of those words is raised to the altars, I pray that, through his intercession and example, all who are engaged in the task of teaching and catechesis will be inspired to greater effort by the vision he so clearly sets before us.”

Homily on the Beatification of Venerable Cardinal John Henry Newman (Sept. 19, 2010)

“In a social milieu that encourages the expression of a variety of opinions on every question that arises, it is important to recognize dissent for what it is, and not to mistake it for a mature contribution to a balanced and wide-ranging debate. It is the truth revealed through Scripture and Tradition and articulated by the Church’s Magisterium that sets us free. Cardinal Newman realized this, and he left us an outstanding example of faithfulness to revealed truth by following that ‘kindly light’ wherever it led him, even at considerable personal cost. Great writers and communicators of his stature and integrity are needed in the Church today, and it is my hope that devotion to him will inspire many to follow in his footsteps.”

Address to the Bishops of England and Wales on “Ad Limina” Visit (Feb. 1, 2010)

Pope John Paul II on Newman

“Newman was born in troubled times which knew not only political and military upheaval but also turbulence of soul. Old certitudes were shaken, and believers were faced with the threat of rationalism on the one hand and fideism on the other. Rationalism brought with it a rejection of both authority and transcendence, while fideism turned from the challenges of history and the tasks of this world to a distorted dependence upon authority and the supernatural. In such a world, Newman came eventually to a remarkable synthesis of faith and reason which were for him ‘like two wings on which the human spirit rises to the contemplation of the truth’ (Fides et Ratio, Introduction; cf. ibid., 74).”

Letter on 2nd Centenary of John Henry Newman’s Birth (Jan. 22, 2001)

“Newman’s quest for the truth led him to search for a voice that would speak to him the authority of the living Christ. His example holds a lasting appeal for all sincere scholars and disciples of truth. He urges them to keep asking the deeper, more basic questions about the meaning of life and of all human history; not to be content with a partial response to the great mystery that is man himself; to have the intellectual honesty and moral courage to accept the light of truth, no matter what personal sacrifice it may involve.”

Letter on First Centenary of John Henry Newman’s Death (June 18, 1990)

“In the present changing circumstances of European culture, does Newman not indicate the essential Christian contribution to building a new era based on a deeper truth and higher values? He wrote: ‘I want to destroy that diversity of centres, which puts everything into confusion by creating a contrariety of influences. I wish the same spots and the same individuals to be at once oracles of philosophy and shrines of devotion…’ In this endeavour the path the Church must follow in succinctly expressed by the English Cardinal in this way: ‘The Church fears no knowledge, but she purifies all; she represses no element of our nature, but cultivates the whole’ (The Idea of a University, Westminster, Md., p. 234).”

Address to Academic Symposium to Commemorate Centenary of John Henry Newman’s Death (April 27, 1990)

New dean named for Catholic U law school

The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law has hired a new dean. The National Law Journal is reporting that Daniel Attridge, managing partner of Kirkland & Ellis’ Washington office, will take over in July 2013 from acting dean, George Garvey.

According to a national ranking, Chicago-based Kirkland & Ellis is the ninth most prestigious law firm in the country. Catholic University President John Garvey, who previously headed Boston College Law School, said he went to a law firm practitioner rather than someone in academia or the judiciary because “Our students and faculty will benefit immeasurably from Mr. Attridge’s decades of experience, his prominence in the profession, and his impressive administrative skills.”

Franciscan University changes course description

Prompted by alumni who were dissatisfied with a course description in the school’s catalog, Franciscan University of Steubenville faculty voted to change the description of the Social Work 314, Deviant Behavior course. The alumni, members of the unofficial Facebook group Franciscan Gay Alumni and Allies, complained in August that the course description classed “gay people with murderers and rapists” and made complaints to the Council on Social Work Education, an accrediting agency.

Franciscan University provided the following release to The Cardinal Newman Society, explaining the change:

FRANCISCAN FACULTY VOTES TO CHANGE COURSE DESCRIPTION

STEUBENVILLE, OHIO—When faculty members at Franciscan University learned that several alumni had concerns regarding a catalog description of the class, Social Work 314, Deviant Behavior, which seemed to imply homosexuality was in the same category as criminal behavior, two lines of discussion emerged.  How can we be responsive to the concerns of our alumni? How can we ensure that a change to our course description does not imply a compromise in our faith commitment?

Franciscan University Vice President for Academic Affairs Dr. Daniel Kempton summed up the concern: “Plausibly, the language in the course description can be perceived as not being in accord with Catholic Church teaching, which calls us to treat those with homosexual tendencies with ‘respect, compassion, and sensitivity.’ At the same time, the Church teaches that homosexual acts ‘are contrary to the natural law. . . . Under no circumstances can they be approved.’ Thus, we found no contradiction in updating the course description while continuing to teach the Church’s teaching on sexuality.”

Since catalog changes are linked to accreditation, the Social Work Program faculty began a formal review. They found that the course originated in the Sociology Program and was transferred to the Social Work Program when that major was first developed. The course description, which conveys a sociological perspective, was not modified at that time to reflect a social work perspective. The Social Work Program faculty determined that a new description would better serve their social work students. They submitted a new description, which was approved by the Curriculum Committee and then by a vote at the November Faculty Meeting.

Franciscan University adopted the following course description for Social Work 314, Deviant Behavior:

Deviant Behavior examines the complexity of defining deviance and the influences on individuals engaged in deviant or diverse behaviors. The behaviors will be analyzed using micro and macro theories that explain difference and deviance. Students will be challenged to think about their own preconceptions as well as interventions that can be utilized in social work practice.

In reflecting on the word choices, faculty members determined that change was also needed because linking homosexuality with the term “deviant,” although properly used in the sociological sense of “departing from societal norms,” could be misconstrued as being disrespectful of persons with a homosexual inclination.

Faculty members and University leaders argue that since Franciscan students have considered multiple sides of an argument, including the spiritual and moral perspectives, they graduate better prepared to solve problems and engage with integrity around the world and in diverse industries.

Franciscan University faculty members teach the importance of engaging in both critical thought and respectful discussion with students in the classroom.  “Those animated by a genuine faith do not fear discourse on controversial and diverse views, nor do they engage in such debate disrespectfully,” stated Dr. Jonathan Sanford, professor of philosophy.

Dr. Sanford also highlighted the link between excellence and struggling with difficult questions. “In point of fact, those very habits of mind, the intellectual virtues, which we seek to cultivate in our students and to practice ourselves and which are the lifeblood of any excellent academic institution, whether religious or secular, dispose us to wrestle with difficult questions in a manner that is simultaneously critical and charitable.”

In reflecting on the need for greater spiritual and moral discussion in the classroom, Dr. Sanford said, “When arguing, as I do, that every university is made better by making room for the Catholic position on a controversial topic, it is absolutely necessary to stress that a faithful Catholic does not think a position is right simply because the Church professes it. Rather, the claim is that the Church professes it because it is right. In any presentation of the Church’s position it is necessary to articulate clearly and then to wrestle with the reasons for that position, and not to treat the position like a slogan.”

Franciscan University promotes an authentic and vibrant Catholic faith. We are committed to integrating faith and learning in and out of the classroom. We want students to succeed spiritually, morally, and intellectually, and we remain firm in providing the integration of faith and reason that will give them the best chance at lifelong success.

List made of Catholic colleges with homosexual clubs

A helpful list from TFP Student Action claims that 52 percent of Catholic colleges in the U.S. sponsor some form of “pro-homosexual” student club. The Cardinal Newman Society has documented the damage that activist and social groups can do, such as drag shows being held on Catholic campuses.

However, the designation “pro-homosexual” fails to make important distinctions between groups that deliberately challenge Catholic teaching, and others that are well-intended (although often still problematic). The list covers a wide range of campus ministry-sponsored programs to counsel students on sexuality, non-spiritual counseling programs, efforts to protect students from harassment, “gay-straight” groups to show solidarity among students, groups organizing social and sometimes amorous activities for homosexual students, groups advocating for civil rights for homosexuals, and activism directly opposed to Catholic teachings.

While such distinctions are important, at least one Vatican official has expressed reservation about any college student activity organized around homosexuality. In 1992 Cardinal Pio Laghi, then-Prefect of the Congregation for Catholic Education, opposed a homosexual club at Seattle University: “At a Catholic university, support can be given only to Catholic teaching on homosexuality and Catholic pastoral practice to help homosexual persons morally, ascetically, and spiritually . . . The university’s responsibilities towards homosexual persons, doctrinally and pastorally, should find their expression in courses in Catholic theology.”

NCR Takes Aim at CNS… and Misses

The National Catholic Reporter has been digging around for several months to do a profile on The Cardinal Newman Society, and their reporter told us to expect an “objective-as-possible” article. But since the Reporter shows minimal respect for the Vatican, the bishops and any organization that fully embraces the teachings and practices of the Catholic Church, we were not particularly hopeful. And, it turns out, with good reason.

Part one of the Reporter’s article is finally out, and there are no surprises. The article is biased and inaccurate, and as the Reporter is wont to do, it implies a boogeyman around every corner.

Fortunately, we only responded to the Reporter’s questions in writing, so we can share with you precisely what we told them. In fact, we think the written interview is much more informative than the article. The full text of that interview is below, but first we offer a few clarifications required by the article published Friday:

1. The Reporter focuses on what it calls our “watchdog” role in monitoring abuses in Catholic higher education. It’s true that we provide accurate and truthful reporting on Catholic education, including exposure of abuses in Catholic identity, at our Campus Notes site. We believe that Catholic families have a right to know what is occurring on Catholic campuses. But the Reporter presents a distorted view of our work by ignoring numerous Campus Notes articles that also highlight positive developments in Catholic education. The Reporter also ignores the work of our Center for the Advancement of Higher Education, Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, Catholic High School Honor Roll, Vatican exhibit of the “Eucharistic Miracles of the World,” defending the religious freedom of Catholic educators, etc. — all of which takes up far more resources and staff time than our Campus Notes reporting.

2. Much of the Reporter’s article rests on criticism of The Cardinal Newman Society’s alleged “blast” e-mail and phone campaigns—despite the fact that we clearly told the Reporter (see the interview below) that it has been several years since we organized grassroots protests, with the exception of an occasional, respectful petition. Our primary reason for no longer urging grassroots e-mails and phone calls was precisely the complaint that the Reporter aims against us: we didn’t appreciate the tone of a small number of e-mails, which were counterproductive and only distracted college leaders away from serious concerns. As for petitions, the article blatantly ignores our largest petition, with more than 367,000 signatures opposing the University of Notre Dame’s honors to President Barack Obama in 2009. And we have sponsored more prayer campaigns than petitions! Here are links to several of our prayer campaigns:

2012 Lenten Prayer Campaign for Religious Liberty

2011 Lenten Prayer Campaign for Catholic colleges (more than 1,000 Holy Hours)

2010 Eastertide Prayer Campaign for Pope Benedict XVI (more than one million prayers, Masses)

2010 Prayer Campaign for Cardinal John Henry Newman’s Canonization

2009 Prayer Campaign for Bishops Who Opposed Notre Dame Honors to President Obama (more than 700,000 prayers, Masses)

3. The Reporter cites Sr. Andrea Lee of St. Catherine University in Minnesota, who falsely claims that our concerns about the University “most often” relate to “something that is discovered embedded many clicks down in our website.” The Reporter does nothing to correct her false statement. Here are just some of our most recent posts on St. Catherine University:

October 2012: Professors countered Bishop Robert Morlino by declaring that Congressman Paul Ryan’s economic plan was “fundamentally at odds with the teachings of the Catholic Church,” including Amata Miller, Professor of Economics, St. Catherine University.

December 2011: Although the U.S. bishops’ doctrine committee publicly condemned Quest for the Living God by Fordham theologian Sr. Elizabeth Johnson in March 2011, we discovered that St. Catherine University had later presented a seminar on the book called “Here Be Dragons: A Dialogue with Quest for the Living God,” which ran from September through November 2011.

December 2011: We noted that the board of the College Theology Society, including Dr. Colleen Mary Carpenter of St. Catherine University, had opposed the U.S. bishops’ criticism of Sr. Elizabeth Johnson’s Quest for the Living God.

May 2011: We reported that St. Catherine University publicly honored its commencement speaker Sr. Carol Keehan, DC, president of the Catholic Health Association of the United States and the lobbyist who perhaps did the most to undermine the U.S. bishops and pro-life organizations on national health care.

4. The Reporter deceptively cites Dr. Thomas Powell, president of Mount St. Mary’s University in Maryland, regarding its dedication ceremony for a wind farm that was attended by Maryland Gov. Martin O’Malley. Although the article implies that The Cardinal Newman Society criticized the University for the event, in fact we have never reported on the incident. Dr. Powell has been the most enthusiastic supporter of our Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education, a division of The Cardinal Newman Society, which is headquartered at the Mount because of Dr. Powell’s generous invitation.

5. The Reporter cites Fr. Stephen Privett, S.J., president of the University of San Francisco, falsely claiming that The Cardinal Newman Society would find it “problematic” that 60 percent of USF’s students are not Catholic. Again, the Reporter does nothing to correct the false statement. The Cardinal Newman Society looks to the Church’s standards for Catholic identity, as defined in Ex corde Ecclesiae, which does not consider the portion of Catholic students. Among the colleges recommended in our Newman Guide for strong Catholic identity are Aquinas College in Tenn. (35 percent Catholic students), St. Gregory’s University in Okla. (50 percent Catholic students), and Walsh University in Ohio (44 percent Catholic students). What’s most important is that a college fully embraces Catholic teaching inside and outside the classroom, which apparently is not always the case at USF. Here are some recent Campus Notes posts on USF:

November 2012 USF’s Public Interest Law Foundation honored David Boies, co-lead counsel for the plaintiffs in the case of Perry v. Brown (now known as Perry v. Schwarzenneger) to overturn California Proposition 8 and redefine marriage.

September 2012: USF’s law school celebrated its 100thanniversary with speakers including Robert F. Kennedy, Jr., and David Boies, both public advocates of same-sex “marriage.”

May 2012: USF’s commencement speakers included three public officials—San Francisco Mayor Edwin Lee, California Supreme Court Justice Goodwin Liu and Congresswoman Lynn Woolsey—who have publicly supported abortion rights and same-sex “marriage.”

April 2012: USF announced a “Lavender Graduation” ceremony for homosexual students.

What follows are the questions put to The Cardinal Newman Society by the Reporter, together with our responses, submitted in writing to Dan Morris-Young on June 21, 2012:

Q: Is there such a thing as actual membership in the CNS? One may donate online, etc., but is there a member status as one would have with the Catholic Press Association or Knights of Columbus?

A: Our members care deeply about Catholic higher education, and every member participates in the work of The Cardinal Newman Society by joining our efforts, receiving our member newsletters and emails, offering prayers, or supporting our work financially.  The vast majority are not donors, and we have no member dues.

Q: When was the The Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education formed? How does its mission differ from that of the CNS, or augment the CNS mission?

A: The Center is not distinct from The Cardinal Newman Society. It is a division that represents a key aspect of our work to help renew and strengthen Catholic identity in Catholic higher education. We launched the Center prior to Pope Benedict XVI’s visit to the United States in 2008, specifically to support those colleges and universities that are committed to living out the Holy Father’s vision of faithful education. The Center focuses on facilitating collaboration among college officials to strengthen Catholic colleges and universities.

Q: Income: Roughly, what percentage of the Society’s income comes from foundations or corporate entities, and what comes from individuals? Are the foundations and/or corporate donors public knowledge?

A: We are blessed with thousands of very generous and loyal donors including laity, priests and bishops.  Some of our individual donors make gifts through family foundations and businesses.

Q: Pope Benedict in early May called on U.S. Catholic colleges and universities to underscore their Catholic identity and fidelity, and specifically mentioned the mandatum that theology teachers should receive from the local ordinary. Your thoughts? (Do most Catholic colleges and universities ignore this? Why?)

A: Clearly Pope John Paul II thought the mandatum was important not only for individual theologians but for Catholic universities, since Canon 812 (which institutes the mandatum) is part of the section of the 1983 Code labeled “Catholic Universities.” Also, he insisted upon implementation of the mandatum within Ex corde Ecclesiae, which defines the Catholic university. It is not surprising that Pope Benedict has said that the mandatum is “especially” important to the “reaffirmation” of Catholic identity in Catholic colleges and universities. Theology professors have rights that should be respected, but so do Catholic families, and Catholic institutions have the obligation to teach in fidelity to Catholic doctrine. We hear from Catholic parents and students who consider it a matter of simple justice that their sons and daughters be able to know which of their theology professors have the mandatum and teach in full communion with the Church.

Q: Did CNS take any action on this latest exhortation from Benedict XVI? If so, the responses or feedback?

A: We reported on it.  Pope Benedict seemed to be requesting action from the colleges and universities, so we hope they will respond faithfully.

Q: Does the CNS file suits, concerns and/or appeals directly with the Vatican (notably in situations such as at Georgetown when it was going to fund a student group supporting abortion rights)? If so, examples?

A: No, that’s not how the Church works.  We document concerns and share that information with Catholic families, college leaders and the American bishops.

Q: Does the CNS seek direct counsel from any Vatican officials or entities? If so, from whom and/or from which? Examples?

A: We consult hundreds of various people, including college presidents, trustees, faculty members, administrators, priests, sisters, and bishops—yes, some of them in Rome.  In the manner appropriate to laity, we consult the Vatican by contemplating Ex corde Ecclesiae, by which Pope John Paul II defined Catholic higher education, and Pope Benedict’s statements conveying his vision for faithful Catholic education where “truth is rooted in faith.”

Q: Has the Cardinal Newman Society assisted William Peter Blatty in his Church court filings against Georgetown? In what manner? Informal advice? Legal counsel? Financial support? Friend of court filing? Behind-closed-door conversations with Vatican officials?

A: Mr. Blatty approached us more than a year ago when he decided to file a canon law lawsuit and asked our advice. He has asked for our help with recommendations, contacts, research, documentation, and keeping the lay faithful informed of the progress. The content of the lawsuit and its leadership depends entirely on Mr. Blatty and his fellow alumni and student procurators.

Q: Some college administrators have described the “blast communications” that seem to be able to be generated by the CNS – phone calls, e-mails, letters. How does that work? Do you alert persons on e-mail lists in a specific area, or e-mail alert your entire mailing list, or post on web site, or issue news releases, or all or some of the above? Who makes those decisions?

A: It has been several years since we regularly organized letter and e-mail campaigns.  The protests that colleges continue to receive are from the grassroots; we need do little more than report the scandals.  We have sponsored very successful petitions to the leaders of Notre Dame and Georgetown, and our members pledged hundreds of thousands of devotions during our prayer campaigns.  Today we are focused on a professional journalistic operation that reports on Catholic higher education issues, with the primary goal of informing Catholic families as well as the colleges and bishops.

Q: How large is the CNS e-mail contact list?

A: It’s very large and growing.

Q: In the recent case of Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu at Gonzaga University, the local opponents to his appearance said they would not have objected to his appearing on campus if it has been in the contained arena of specific academic inquiry – apartheid, for example – but it was the commencement address platform and university honorary degree they found objectionable. Does that reflect the CNS general stance toward persons not in harmony with Catholic teaching appearing as campus invitees – that academic inquiry is one thing, providing implicit university endorsement via honors or an address platform is another?

A: We have argued that selection as a commencement speaker provides both an honor and a platform—one that allows for no genuine dialogue.  So clearly that is the greater concern, especially when paired with an honorary degree.

With regard to other platforms, the bishops laid out a policy in 2004, and colleges ought to respect that. Certainly there are ways of mitigating the potential for scandal in an academic event by ensuring balance, dialogue, and a clear presentation of Catholic teaching – which are not often evident in the many controversial lectures on Catholic campuses.

But the question should also be asked by a college that sincerely cares for its students: why is it necessary to invite a particular individual who clearly opposes the Church, and not someone who could better contribute to a Catholic college’s mission of cultivating both the intellect and virtue?

It is often possible to study the writings of a controversial figure without inviting them to campus. This allows the dispassionate, serious reflection that is appropriate to a college or university.

Q: In an allusion to the CNS, the president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities said, “We… disagree with those Catholic groups that prefer to insert themselves into the often complex and generally productive conversation on Catholic identity.” Your reaction? Your assessment of the ACCU?

A: The Cardinal Newman Society brings into the conversation the shared concerns of thousands of faithful Catholic families, who rightfully deserve a voice in Catholic education.  It is precisely because the ACCU and many of its member college presidents too often dismiss the concerns of the Catholic faithful that The Cardinal Newman Society exists.

Q: We have asked the president of Christendom College for his views on the work of the CNS. There seems to be a cordial, even working, relationship between the school and the CNS. How do you describe that relationship or association?

A: Christendom is an outstanding college with a strong academic program and a faithful Catholic identity. We work closely, and off the record, with two dozen or so colleges through our Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education and have good relationships with others that are looking to strengthen their Catholic identity.

Q: The president of a mid-West university said, “We view CNS intrusion as unwelcome and inappropriate. Our board and sponsors would speak with the same voice.” Is this something you hear often? Your feedback?

A: We occasionally hear complaints from presidents of Catholic universities that are struggling with their Catholic identity – ironically, the same presidents who claim to value dialogue and dissenting points of view.  We hear quite the opposite from more faithful institutions, and we value their support.

Q: Is there anything you might wish to add?

A: I debated whether to answer your questions, because my experience is that the National Catholic Reporter has a clear bias against the bishops, the Holy Father, and some Catholic teachings.  But I looked at your background, and I am trusting that a professional journalist like you is going to be fair and objective.

Fewer postings for theology/religious studies positions

A new study from the American Academy of Religion and the Society of Biblical Literature found that there are fewer jobs being posted for college professors in theology and religious studies than there were prior to the economy tanking in 2008. The number of postings in 2009 was down 46 percent from the previous year across American higher education. In addition, the data show that fewer of the positions that are being offered are tenure track. In 2008, 82 percent of the positions offered were tenure track, but that number dropped to 51 percent in 2009 and 61 percent in 2010.

The study does not speculate on the reasons for the declines, but they most likely have to do with the recession that began in 2008. Other reasons could include less emphasis on religion relative to other subject areas, or lower student enrollment in religion courses.

Roy Bourgeois laicized, dismissed from order

According to the National Catholic Reporter and Catholic News Service, former Maryknoll priest Roy Bourgeois has been expelled from the Maryknoll order by a decree from the Vatican. Bourgeois had been active in the movement to get the Church to change her age-old doctrine on a male-only priesthood. That activity culminated in August of 2008 when he participated in a ceremony to “ordain” a woman as a Catholic priest. He continued to express public support for this position after the “ordination,” and was repeatedly warned of the consequences of doing so. He was excommunicated in November of that same year, and laicized and expelled from the order on October 4 of this year.

Bourgeois received much support for his many controversial positions through the years from Jesuit and other Catholic universities, as the Cardinal Newman Society has documented.