Catholic 'in name only' is misleading


Truth in advertising has long been practiced by businesses trying to sell themselves and their wares to the public. The principle can also be applied to colleges and universities in their recruitment of prospective students, and should certainly be a practice of those institutions that identify themselves as Catholic.

The late Pope John Paul II in his apostolic constitution, Ex Corde Ecclesiae, stated: “Born from the heart of the Church, a Catholic University is located in that course of tradition which may be traced back to the very origin of the University as an institution. It has always been recognized as an incomparable centre of creativity and dissemination of knowledge for the good of humanity.” Increasingly, however, this is not the case in the United States and elsewhere, as many Catholic colleges and universities are becoming “Catholic” in name only.

This was highlighted recently across the Rhode Island border where Worcester’s College of the Holy Cross has been challenged by Bishop Robert J. McManus to withdraw from a Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy Conference at the college that includes workshops by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. Both organizations are agents of the culture of death that reject fundamental Catholic teaching about the sanctity of human life. Bishop McManus correctly stated: “I strongly contend that the confusion and upset to the Catholic faithful and others that flow from the perception that the administration of the College of the Holy Cross supports positions contrary to the fundamental moral teaching of the Church must be avoided.”

Meanwhile, Georgetown University Law Center, the oldest Catholic university in the nation, announced last week that it will permit the institution to give grants to students who lobby for abortion agencies such as Planned Parenthood. The mission of an organization will no longer be considered in determining grants, according the Law Center’s Dean, T. Alexander Aleinkoff. The change of policy will ensure that some students will now receive funding for pro-abortion legal work.

These disturbing events highlight a dangerous trend that has been developing at Catholic institutions over the last 30 years. The influence of radically secular and morally relativistic faculty members upon Catholic institutions that neither respect nor honor the Church’s teachings continues to undermine their Catholic traditions. As a result, Catholic parents and students who seek out an authentic Catholic education are often duped and misled into thinking a college will honor their commitment to the faith. Too often, this is not the case as faculties and administrations merely pay lip service to the Catholic identity of the college while they challenge the fundamental teachings of the Church.

We applaud Bishop McManus for his clarion call to Holy Cross to stop the charade of calling itself Catholic in name while undermining Church teachings in practice. The principle of truth in advertising requires that Holy Cross and Georgetown reexamine their commitment to being authentically Catholic institutions. We remind them of Pope John Paul II’s wise words in Ex Corde Ecclesiae that “it is the honor and responsibility of a Catholic university to consecrate itself without reserve to the cause of truth.” It is high time that Holy Cross, Georgetown and a whole host of Catholic colleges begin to live out that honor and responsibility.