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New book focuses on pseudo-Catholic colleges and organizations

September 9th, 2009
Catholic News Agency (www.catholicnewsagency.com)

Is Catholic higher education distancing itself from Catholic teaching to keep up with its secular counterparts?

HAMDEN, Conn. (CNA) - Dr. Anne Hendershott, a former faculty member at the University of San Diego has recently released her new book, Status Envy: the Politics of Higher Education, in which she explains that Catholic higher education is distancing itself from Catholic teaching in order to keep up with its secular counterparts.

Hendershott spoke to the Catholic Transcript, newspaper for the Archdiocese of Hartford, about how her experiences as a 15-year faculty member at the University of San Diego helped her to write her latest book on Catholic higher education.

In a description on the cover of her book she explains that since Catholic universities are not generally regarded as “top-notch,” they strive to define their success and status based on secular standards. Because of this, faculty and administration work to “distance universities from Catholic ideas and curriculum,” she said. Hendershott explains that some schools “have distanced themselves so far from their Catholic origins that the church no longer recognizes them as Catholic institutions.”

Some Catholic colleges and universities “have these beautiful statues and they take their prospective students and their moms and dads and say, ‘This is our statue of Mary,’ and, 'This is our grotto,’” Hendershott explained in her interview. “They don’t say, ‘This is where we have the transgender fashion show.’ They have this façade of pious people. But what goes on inside … it’s fake. I worked at one for 15 years. I know how fake it is."

She also revealed that during her time at the university, she was one of the few pro-life faculty members.

"I kept saying, ‘What are we doing with internships at Planned Parenthood?’ You’re not popular when you say things like that because all of the pro-choice feminists on campus will hate you. And they did," she noted.

Hendershott moved back to her home of Connecticut five years ago and is now a professor of urban studies at The King’s College in New York. "I love it. It’s a place where I’m allowed to be Catholic," she said. She also mentioned that she did not attend a Catholic college as a student. “That’s how I stayed Catholic, and I didn’t let my children go to Catholic colleges."

In addition to writing, she also currently focuses on "pseudo-Catholic organizations like Catholics in Alliance for the Common Good" as well as Voice of the Faithful and the roles they play in her state.

Hendershott’s previous writings include: The Politics of Abortion; The Politics of Deviance, and The Reluctant Caregivers: Learning to Care for a Loved One with Alzheimer's

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