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Cardinal Newman Society: Catholic Colleges Lost

June 19th, 2009
Zenit News Agency (www.zenit.org)

Our leading Catholic universities have lost their way, and they need clear direction from the bishops.

MANASSAS, Virginia (Zenit) - Many Catholic universities are lost and are in need of specific policies to help them go in the right direction, says the Cardinal Newman Society.

The society said this Wednesday in response to the expressed desire of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities to eliminate the U.S. bishops' policy against honoring public figures who are at odds with fundamental Catholic beliefs.

The association's summer newsletter reported this week that the board of directors concluded during its most recent meeting that "it would be desirable for the [U.S. bishops] to withdraw" their guidelines.

The 2004 bishops' guidelines state: "The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."

The association, which represents over 200 institutions, added that "juridical expressions of bishops' or universities' responsibilities should be kept to a minimum" in order to maintain good relations between the prelates and educators.

Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, said is was evident "that the many secularized Catholic colleges and universities are more concerned with doing away with the rules than ending the scandals."

"Lobbying the bishops to back off a perfectly reasonable policy would be a shameful action by the Catholic higher education establishment," he added.

The Cardinal Newman Society noted that the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities is not the only group of university leaders looking to either put an end to or amend the current policy.

After protests erupted around the University of Notre Dame's decision to honor President Barack Obama at its graduation ceremony, Jesuit Father Charles Currie, president of the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities, affirmed that his association had already begun to lobby the conference for a policy change.

Reilly countered that "our leading Catholic universities have lost their way, and they need precisely the sort of clear direction from the bishops that the 2004 policy on Catholic honors and platforms represents."

He added, "Catholic colleges and universities would like all of the privileges of being Catholic, but none of the responsibilities of being high-profile witnesses for the fullness of the Catholic faith."

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