Category Archives: About Cardinal Newman Society

Cardinal Newman Society Thanks USCCB for Standing Against the HHS Mandate

The Cardinal Newman Society today thanked Cardinal Timothy Dolan and the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops for pointing out the ways in which the Feb. 1, 2013, proposed rules from the Department of Health and Human Services still fail to address core concerns with the sterilization/contraception/abortion mandate of the Patient Protection and Affordable Care Act. Catholics are left no choice but to oppose the mandate and will be comforted and strengthened by the support and leadership of the nation’s Catholic bishops.

The current movement toward defining first-class religious institutions of Catholic education, Catholic health care, and Catholic charity as second-class institutions is unacceptable.  The Cardinal Newman Society stands at the ready to continue supporting the efforts of Catholic educational institutions to protect their God given Catholic identity and religious liberty.

The Cardinal Newman Society will continue encouraging its members to  pray for our bishops and all American citizens engaged in the struggle to uphold our constitutionally protected religious rights.

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 Also, young adults are encouraged to use their Facebook profile pictures to support the sanctity of life. Details are available at

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.

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, 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,, 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.

Cardinal Newman Society Board Member at Vatican

The Cardinal Newman Society board member Kathryn Lopez was at the Vatican and had an opportunity to meet the Pope this week as part of the International Congress on Ecclesia in America. She wrote of her visit at The Corner:

I’m currently in Rome as one of 250 participants in an International Congress on Ecclesia in America, a product of John Paul II’s imploring the Americas to reevangelize in the love of Christ, with Mary as a motherly model, to build a civilization of love to counter and heal the prevailing culture of violence and death. (One way to characterize this gathering might be that we’re asking: What’s been going on these last 15 years, already?!)

Religious freedom comes up in nearly every talk so far, as it happens, too.

Getting back to the questions: “What is going on? Where are you going? Where are you headed?” That’s some version of just about the most frequently asked question I get: “What happened with the Catholics? I thought you were all going to defend religious liberty? What are the Catholics doing about it?” The answer, I believe, is in no small part what is happening here.

Yesterday we met with Pope Benedict for what might have been more an admonishment than a pep talk: He basically said (I paraphrase):

If you people, who are representing your part of the world as Catholic leaders, are not living truly Catholic lives — receiving the Sacraments in openness and love to God’s will, living the Word, knowing the Word — you are part of the problem.

This is consistent with a theme at the U.S. Catholic bishops conference in Baltimore in November. Quoting G. K. Chesterton asking “What’s Wrong with the World?,” Timothy Cardinal Dolan repeated his answer: “I am.” For Catholics, it is the theme of the hour. Or ought to be.

The pope got into it Sunday night at the altar of the chair of St. Peter:

The Church is convinced that the light for an adequate solution can only come from encounter with the living Christ, which gives rise to attitudes and ways of acting based on love and truth. This is the decisive force which will transform the American continent.

He went on:

Dear friends, the love of Christ impels us to devote ourselves without reserve to proclaiming his Name throughout America, bringing it freely and enthusiastically to the hearts of all its inhabitants. There is no more rewarding or beneficial work than this. There is no greater service that we can provide to our brothers and sisters. They are thirsting for God. For this reason, we ought to take up this commitment with conviction and joyful dedication, encouraging priests, deacons, consecrated men and women and pastoral agents to purify and strengthen their interior lives ever more fully through a sincere relationship with the Lord and a worthy and frequent reception of the sacraments. This will be encouraged by suitable catechesis and a correct and ongoing doctrinal formation marked by complete fidelity to the word of God and the Church’s magisterium and aimed at offering a response to the deepest questions and aspirations of the human heart. The witness of your faith will thus be more eloquent and incisive, and you will grow in unity in the fulfillment of your apostolate. A renewed missionary spirit and zealous generosity in your commitment will be an irreplaceable contribution to what the universal Church expects and needs from the Church in America.

You don’t have to be Catholic to agree with the man that it is a good idea to be who you claim to be! And that the world might benefit.

Anyway, you ask me what the problem is and what we’re doing about it: bad catechesis, bad witness. And the Church’s response is: a year dedicated to rededicating resources to teaching what it is the Church teaches and why (Year of Faith), and reawakening an awareness of the call of baptism, as Anderson put it this morning. The Church isn’t just its bishops and clergy. And Christ isn’t who each decides he is — we are made in his image and likeness, not the other way around — but what the Gospel does.

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.

Patrick Reilly: “I’ve Seen Significant Improvement in Catholic Higher Education”

Patrick Reilly, the president of The Cardinal Newman Society, told The Washington Examiner about his own faith, the secularization of many Catholic college and the “significant improvement in Catholic higher education” he has seen in recent years.

The bishops, the Vatican and many Catholic educators have all been working toward the same goal, so yes, I’ve seen significant improvement in Catholic higher education. Nearly every Catholic university in the country is talking about Catholic identity, and some are doing more than others to strengthen it. And part of that is there’s a greater interest today among young people in spiritual questions — that’s something studies have documented — and a sense that they’re not getting answers from the type of education that was provided over the last few decades.

You can read the entire interview at The Washington Examiner.

Catholic Identity Is Priority in Religious Freedom Struggle, Says CNS President

The failure of Catholic institutions to demonstrate clear and consistent Catholic identity and fidelity encourages disregard for the Church’s claims of religious freedom and therefore is itself a threat to faithful Catholics, argued Patrick Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society, in Washington, D.C., on Friday.

Reilly was the kickoff speaker at the weekend meeting of the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars on threats to religious freedom and the Catholic response. He partnered with Monsignor Stuart Swetland, director of The Cardinal Newman Society’s Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education and vice president for mission at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md., to discuss religious freedom threats in higher education.

Reilly noted that not only does weak Catholic identity in Catholic colleges and universities diminish respect for the Church, but also that strong Catholic identity can help significantly when legal action is needed to defend First Amendment rights:

…[L]egal experts say that faithfully Catholic institutions are better positioned to fight religious freedom violations in the courts, first by qualifying as religious employers under the law, and second by being able to demonstrate consistency when claiming that Catholic values are essential to their operations.  We have commissioned several advisories from the religious liberty experts at the Becket Fund and Alliance Defending Freedom, explaining that it should be much easier to obtain a religious exemption to an offensive law or regulation, or to claim a substantial burden on religious activity under the Religious Freedom Restoration Act, if an institution has a clear religious mission.

Following a review of current threats to Catholic colleges and universities—including the HHS contraceptive mandate, the National Labor Relations Board’s refusal to recognize Catholic colleges as substantially religious, and the EEOC’s demand that a Catholic college include contraceptives in its employee health care plan—Reilly urged attention to Catholic identity concerns:

So while American Catholics vigorously defend our religious freedom under the law, it seems to me the greatest priority and not a distraction from the immediate crisis to turn frank attention to that “elephant in the room”—the weakened Catholic identity and fidelity of our Catholic colleges and universities, and our other Catholic institutions. This is especially clear when we acknowledge that weak Catholic identity and fidelity only invite further threats to religious freedom, whereas strengthened Catholic identity and fidelity can provide some protection.

Christ Jesus said, “If a house is divided against itself, that house will not be able to stand.” And also, “If you remain in My word, you will truly be My disciples, and you will know the truth, and the truth will set you free.”

The struggle for religious freedom ought to be concerned with more than the liberty protected by law. The Church’s priority is to lead mankind to that greater freedom which comes with knowing Christ and remaining faithful to Him, and it is the distinctive mission of Catholic education to lead young men and women to the truth that frees them from the chains of sin and ignorance. It is for this reason that the Catholic college or university that is firmly rooted in the Church is well worth preserving from every external and internal threat to its integrity.

The Fellowship of Catholic Scholars will be publishing the full proceedings of the conference.

Congressman Andrews Stands by Insult to Christians, Religious Colleges

A spokesman for Congressman Robert Andrews (N.J.-1st) said the Congressman stands by remarks that he made at a Congressional hearing on First Amendment concerns two weeks ago, according to the Daily Caller.  Andrews had argued that the religious freedom concerns of religious colleges were not “compelling questions” deserving a congressional hearing, which he described as a “classic case of Nero fiddling while Rome burns.”

On September 25, leaders of more than 20 religious and other organizations including The Cardinal Newman Society sent a letter urging Congresman Andrews to apologize, noting that his dismissal of serious religious liberty concerns and his unfortunate reference to a tyrant who murdered Christians were “most unfortunate and a great insult to Christians”:

Congressman Andrews, you may disagree with the fears of many religious leaders and people of faith about the growing threats to religious liberty.  We ask, however, that you not attempt to silence our voice before Congress.  We request your apology to Christians and all people of faith for showing such insensitivity to their concerns and historical trials, and we invite you to clarify your position on the NLRB’s violations of the First Amendment.

Congressman Andrews has not yet responded to the letter. But speaking to the Daily Caller, Congressman Andrews’ chief of staff declined to provide a clear apology and indicated that Andrews still believes the hearing was a waste of time:

“Congressman Andrews respects all people of all religious backgrounds,” wrote Fran Tagmire, chief of staff, in an e-mail to The DC News Foundation. “He respects and supports the rights of colleges and universities. None of his comments at the hearing were intended to convey any views to the contrary.”

The congressman’s office stood by his remark that economic issues loomed larger than concerns about religious liberty, however.

“All of his comments were intended to point out that unemployment and the economy is our nation’s biggest challenge,” he said.

The September 12th hearing by two House Education and the Workforce subcommittees addressed the National Labor Relations Board’s (NLRB) unconstitutional attempts to interfere with teaching faculty at religious colleges. Since January 2011 the NLRB, dominated by Obama administration appointees, has declared three Catholic institutions—Duquesne University in Pittsburgh, Manhattan College in New York, and St. Xavier University in Chicago—ineligible for First Amendment protections.  This violates a 1979 Supreme Court ruling which found that NLRB oversight of teachers at religious schools would improperly entangle the federal agency in religious matters, as well as subsequent rulings by the federal appeals court in Washington, D.C., that instructed the NLRB to stop harassing religious colleges.

Daily Caller: CNS Speaks Out Against NLRB Violations

The Daily Caller, an online political magazine, features Patrick Reilly, the president of The Cardinal Newman Society, speaking out against the overstepping National Labor Relations Board which has attempted to drag numerous Catholic colleges under the purview of federal oversight many times.

The Cardinal Newman Society has previously reported on the NLRB’s long history of violating the First Amendment in order to assert jurisdiction over faculty at Catholic colleges and universities. Duquesne and two other Catholic colleges are appealing NLRB rulings that they are insufficiently religious to qualify for exemption from the Board’s oversight.

Most recently, the National Labor Relations Board forced Duquesne University to hold a vote on allowing faculty to unionize. Reilly has been one of the few voices speaking out against this federal overstep into the world of religion including a report documenting the NLRB’s long history of interference in Catholic education.

“What the Supreme Court has said is the very fact of the NLRB getting involved in these personnel issues is going to entangle the NLRB, a federal agency, in religious issues,” Reilly said in an interview with The Daily Caller News Foundation. “Should employee benefits include contraception and sterilization and abortafacients? The Supreme Court has said that any institution that holds itself out as religious needs to be exempt for NLRB oversight.”

You can read the entire piece at The Daily Caller.

Prominent Catholic Leaders, Scholars to Address Religious Liberty

Prominent Catholic scholars and leaders and from around the country will convene next week to discuss current threats to religious liberty and the Catholic Church’s response.

Among the speakers at the Fellowship of Catholic Scholars event in Washington, D.C., on September 28-30 will be Patrick Reilly, president of The Cardinal Newman Society, and Monsignor Stuart Swetland, director of The Cardinal Newman Society’s Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education and vice president for mission at Mount St. Mary’s University in Emmitsburg, Md.

Reilly and Msgr. Swetland will address the impact of federal and state threats to religious liberty on college campuses, including Catholic colleges and universities and also Catholic ministries at non-Catholic institutions.

“The threats to Catholic educators’ religious liberty are clearly entwined with the crisis of Catholic identity,” Reilly said. “Our increasingly secular society has shown little sympathy for the First Amendment claims of institutions that half-heartedly embrace the Catholic faith. We must vigorously defend the rights of all Catholic institutions, but success depends partly on the renewal of Catholic identity in our colleges and campus ministries—not least because we need to prepare a new generation of Catholics to defend the Faith.”

The prestigious roster of speakers also includes His Eminence Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke, ecclesiastical advisor to the Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education and prefect of the Supreme Tribunal of the Apostolic Signatura in Rome; His Eminence Cardinal Donald Wuerl of Washington, D.C.; Robert George of Princeton University; Thomas Farr of the Berkley Center at Georgetown University; Kyle Duncan of the Becket Fund for Religious Liberty; Gerard Bradley of the University of Notre Dame; and Bill Saunders of Americans United for Life.

The event is open to the public, with special rates for students and local clergy and religious. See more information at the Fellowship website here.

Forbes and Catholic Colleges

How should Catholic families evaluate colleges? Forbes Magazine lists many Catholic colleges high in its annual U.S. college and university rankings, but beware: like most college rankings, Forbes tends to mistake “big” and “popular” for “best.”

Six Catholic schools made it into the top 100 out of the 650 schools listed this year including The University of Notre Dame (No. 12), Boston College (No 26), Georgetown University (No. 38), College of the Holy Cross (No. 41), University of Santa Clara (No. 72), and Villanova University (No. 83). None of these would score very high on a test for Catholic identity, and some (especially Boston, Georgetown, Holy Cross, and Santa Clara) would score very low. And their core curricula and educational philosophy cannot compare to most of the colleges recommended in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College.

Some faithful Catholic colleges score well on the Forbes list. It would be impossible to ignore Thomas Aquinas College in California, which is ranked the 111th best college in America (98th among private colleges), and The University of Dallas is ranked 120th.

“Out of 220 Catholic universities in America, to be ranked ninth is quite an achievement, especially when you consider that those ranked above us are much larger and more nationally-known. Our rigorous core curriculum, an extraordinary faculty and a committed student body make UD exceptional,” said John Plotts, vice president of enrollment management and student affairs.

But from The Cardinal Newman Society’s perspective, none of the Newman Guide colleges including Aquinas and Dallas deserves to be ranked behind the likes of the Forbes Top 100. Forbes simply doesn’t care about the core curriculum, or even what is taught, which therefore tells families nothing about the quality of education. “Larger and nationally known” is the prevailing standard, which begs the question of which colleges are truly good.  Here’s how colleges are scored:

The rankings are based on five general categories: post graduate success (32.5%), which evaluates alumni pay and prominence, student satisfaction (27.5%), which includes professor evaluations and freshman to sophomore year retention rates, debt (17.5%), which penalizes schools for high student debt loads and default rates, four-year graduation rate (11.25%) and competitive awards (11.25%), which rewards schools whose students win prestigious scholarships and fellowships like the Rhodes, the Marshall and the Fulbright or go on to earn a Ph.D.

These of course are important factors to consider when choosing a college, but Forbes is unable to put them into context. Alumni pay and prominence, retention rates, financial aid, loan defaults, and four-year graduation rate are often heavily influenced by the wealth of the institution and/or the wealth of students’ families. Donations to colleges and the portion of students from wealthy families, in turn, are heavily influenced by the popularity and size of an institution.

Size and selectivity in admissions have a lot to do with the number of student awards, which are also influenced by the popularity of the college attended.

And how does one adequately judge a college’s academic quality by student satisfaction and professor evaluations? Students choosing a secular university or a secularized Catholic university are hardly likely to evaluate their experience according to the standards of a rigorous, faithfully Catholic education.

The third edition of The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College will be released this fall, with all-new essays helping Catholic families make the best decisions in their college search. Save the cost of a Forbes subscription; The Newman Guide is available free online.

Religious Persecution Begins, Targets College Students

The Cardinal Newman Society, a national organization to help renew and strengthen Catholic identity in Catholic higher education, issued the following statement:

August 1, 2012, marks the formal beginning of the persecution of Catholic colleges and universities that wish to remain faithful to the teachings of the Catholic Church.

As of today, the Obama administration is forcing Catholic colleges to help students and employees obtain no-cost sterilizations, abortion-causing drugs and contraceptives, and also “counseling” promoting these practices.

And who are the first victims of the Obama administration’s new Sexual Revolution? Catholic colleges and the parents of Catholic college students!

One year ago, when the Obama administration shocked the nation with “interim final” regulations for its HHS mandate, it publicly admitted that it had rushed the rules to ensure that college students get “contraceptive services” in the 2012-2013 school year. Many student insurance plans renew in August.

In other words, the Obama administration’s desire to support students’ sexual activity without even one year’s delay is precisely why:

1)      they rushed to publish a poorly constructed religious exemption, and

2)     they refused to accept comments on the interim regulations until after they were issued.

Many news publications have deceptively reported that the HHS mandate is delayed another year for religious institutions, without explaining that many religious colleges and employers cannot meet the Obama administration’s arbitrary criteria for the delay.

Catholic colleges that covered “contraceptive services” as of February 10, 2012, are ineligible for the delay. But infidelity is not the only reason why Catholic colleges may be affected:

·         They may have complied with state laws which violate religious freedom.

·         They may have been unaware of provisions included in their health plans by insurance companies or by college personnel in prior years.

·         They may operate in areas without affordable coverage that excludes contraception.

Moreover, the past infidelity of a Catholic college is no excuse for the federal government to violate that college’s First Amendment right to uphold Catholic teachings.

And further, the Obama administration is violating the rights of Catholic parents who send students to Catholic colleges, reasonably expecting their religious beliefs to be upheld. There is no religious freedom when the federal government prevents Catholic families from freely choosing authentic Catholic education.

And Now Some Good News About Catholicism in America from Fr. McCloskey

There’s plenty of bad news for Catholics in America. There’s legalized abortion, there’s the HHS mandate, many Catholics leaving the fold, dwindling Catholic births and baptisms, there’s the infringement of religious liberty, and a very real danger of Catholics becoming second-class citizens.

But Father C.J. McCloskey III, a fellow of the Faith and Reason Institute as well as a member of the Cardinal Newman Society’s National Advisory Board, writes a piece  at The Catholic Thing that while admitting there is lots of bad news for Catholics in America right now, the Golden Age Cometh.

This is precisely where the going gets good for the Church in the United States. Increasingly, the Catholic Church is the only option for serious Christians here. Traditional Protestant denominations are shrinking and Evangelical Christians in many cases are attracted to the sacramental system of the Church and its authoritative teachings. We get their best, and they get our worst, who do not want to live up to the full range of demands on the Christian life.

The seminaries are now generally sound, vocations are on the rise, and the episcopate is mostly made up of men in line with the evangelizing Catholicism of Bl. John Paul and the deep liturgical teachings of Pope Benedict.

Catholic radio is increasingly present almost everywhere. Catholic publishing continues to grow on- and off-line. The Cardinal Newman Society colleges grow each year and with time will replace the apostate former “Catholic” universities, whose now-diluted Catholicism we don’t need.

Liturgies in our parishes are now more traditional – in many places the Lord is once again worshiped in a more reverent setting and adored in the centered tabernacle.

Finally, we face life-changing threats to the practice of our Faith, which, paradoxically, has its positive side. That may be our great opportunity to bear witness, as did the first Christians, and to draw converts, even if it means martyrdom.

I say: Bring it on, if it be God’s will. Just think of the reward! In any case, it would not be the first time we’ve had to face and overcome such challenges. The best still lies ahead.

You can read Fr. McCloskey’s entire piece here.

Villanova Prof., Lewd Performer Outraged by Cancelled Workshop

A Villanova University professor and the lewd performance artist she invited to lead a week-long student workshop last April apparently have been nursing grudges against The Cardinal Newman Society, ever since our report prompted Villanova to cancel the workshop.

Heidi Rose, associate professor of performance studies, unleashed her anger in a strange performance of her own, and then posted the video online.

The Villanova workshop was to have been conducted by Tim Miller, whose work reportedly has been highly inappropriate for a Catholic university educator, to say the least. The Cardinal Newman Society’s report noted:

 But the term “militant gay rights activist” doesn’t really begin to explain Tim Miller, the performance artist. Miller, according to Facebook, sued the National Endowment for the Arts for pulling a grant due to his obscene “art,” he’s been arrested dozens of times, is a very public advocate of gay marriage and abortion rights, and is a member of the anti-Catholic group ACT UP which once sent protesters to interrupt Sunday mass at St. Patrick’s Cathedral in New York and desecrated the Eucharist, according to The New York Times.

Far from renouncing his membership in ACT UP after that 1989 incident, Miller remains a member of ACT UP, according to Facebook, and even called the group’s confrontational tactics, “the single most influential thing in my life.“

Following our report, Villanova cancelled the workshop. But Professor Rose simply relocated it to nearby Bryn Mawr College. So the show went on.

Now it seems that Professor Rose has attacked The Cardinal Newman Society in a performance entitled “Breathing Again,” which she performed at Bryn Mawr toward the end of Miller’s workshop. Not content with expressing her anger onstage, Rose elaborates in an online quarterly called Liminalities, where she has posted her essay and a video of her performance.

She writes, “CNS… launched a campaign on their website condemning the invitation and advancing blatantly false claims and damning innuendo about Tim Miller and his work.” She accuses The Cardinal Newman Society of “hate,” “lies,” and “blatantly false claims,” and she even compares us to racists.

Evidence? None offered.

While we did raise concerns about the inappropriateness of inviting Miller to a Catholic university, we hardly “launched a campaign.” We published a blog post, which was later included in our regular member email and newsletter. After that, we simply reported on the cancellation and the ensuing firestorm.

In her performance piece, Professor Rose tells a story about something that happened when she was eight years old: a little boy called someone the racist N-word, and she rightly rebuked him. She says doing so made her feel ten feet tall. She compares that moment to what occurred recently at Villanova:

 More hate. More fear. More bigotry. “He’s a militant anti-Catholic gay rights activist. He desecrated the host. He simulates sex on stage. His art is obscene. She should be fired.”

A volcano erupts inside me. No thinking. Just action. “LIES!—“[gasp—hand grabs throat] Strangled. Not enough action. [other arm behind back] Handcuffed. Too much thinking. Imprisoned. [arms back at sides] Betrayed. Again. [I address both sides of audience, making as much eye contact as possible.] There will always be hate. There will always be fear. There will always be lies. But I am still that eight year-old. And I will be ten feet tall, again.”

To be clear, The Cardinal Newman Society never accused Miller of desecrating the host, although we did rightly point out that he was a member of ACT UP. And we did rightly point out that Miller compared those defending traditional marriage to Nazis. And as for his vile performances, well… suffice it to say that we’ve endured the videos.

Professor Rose reveals that “the chair of my department, the colleague and friend with whom I experienced significant conflict over the University’s actions,” was also in attendance at her Bryn Mawr performance.

Miller, too, lashes out at The Cardinal Newman Society on the pages of Liminalities:

 After the Cardinal Newman Society, an extremist Catholic academic watchdog most famous for trying to ban President Obama from being able to speak at Notre Dame, reported a host of lies about my work—RADICAL GAY MILITANT COMES TO VILLANOVA—the President of Villanova, Rev. Donohue, promptly caved in and cancelled my residency.
What followed was a host of homophobic lies from Villanova University and the complete absence of any public support from the Communication Studies program at VU that had initiated my residency. It is a sad legacy that Villanova showed such cowardice and “performed”—irony intended—how easily they can be bossed around by a few extremist bloggers with misinformation. This is not a Profiles in Courage moment for Villanova. I feel so bad for the LGBT students at Villanova and for the faculty who were being bullied by their superiors.

Given that both Miller and Professor Rose accuse The Cardinal Newman Society of false reporting, we thought it only appropriate to review our reports carefully. We stand by everything that we have reported, and note that we considered reporting much more about Miller’s work, but feared that the details would be offensive to our readers.

This is just the latest nastiness in the wake of the cancelled workshop. Shortly after it happened, Miller excoriated Villanova’s president, Father Peter M. Donohue, OSA, creating much controversy on campus. Father Donohue reportedly said the workshop had been cancelled because of explicit content, while, not unexpectedly, Miller charged that “homophobia” was behind the incident.

Veteran Church Leader, Distinguished Catholic Journalist Join Cardinal Newman Society Staff

From the Cardinal Newman Society press release:

Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) President Patrick J. Reilly announced today the hiring of two senior level program staff tasked with expanding and enhancing the organization’s work to help renew and strengthen the Catholic identity of Catholic colleges and universities.

“I am excited to welcome veteran Church leader Robert Laird and distinguished Catholic journalist Charlotte Hays to our Manassas, Virginia, headquarters as senior-level staff members in two newly created positions,” said Reilly. “Bob and Charlotte bring an array of talents from their rich professional experiences and will help make The Cardinal Newman Society even more effective in service to the Church and Catholic education.”

Laird is The Cardinal Newman Society’s first Director of Programs. In this position, he will oversee key programs including the National Catholic High School Honor Roll and parent and student outreach. Laird will also manage programs for the Society’s Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education.

A graduate of the U.S. Military Academy and a career Army officer, Bob has for the last 20 years worked as a Catholic leader in the Diocese of Arlington, Virginia. He served as the long-time director of the diocese’s Office of Family Life and most recently as Executive Director of the pro-life Tepeyac Family Center and Divine Mercy Care healthcare apostolates. Bob is also a member of the board of directors of the Couple to Couple League.

Hays is The Cardinal Newman Society’s first Director of Campus News and Publications. She serves as editor for the Society’s daily campus reporting at She also writes feature articles and conducts long-term investigative research on issues at Catholic campuses.

A distinguished Catholic journalist and author, Hays won an award from the Catholic Press Association for her interview with Walker Percy. She is a former Washington correspondent for the National Catholic Register, reporter at the Washington Times, and editor of the Independent Women’s Forum’s The Women’s Quarterly. Hays is a published author of books on southern humor.

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

This release was originally posted on the CNS website here.