A Win for Benedictine College

Nothing could be more sensible: a Catholic college with a proud heritage in football invites Harrison Butker, a faithfully Catholic athlete—one of the best kickers in the NFL, whose team just won the Super Bowl—to speak at its commencement ceremony.

From any rational perspective, Benedictine College did everything right.

And what could be more appropriate, that the speaker at a Catholic college commencement ceremony would uphold Catholic morality and celebrate marriage and family above career?

From an authentically Catholic perspective, Harrison Butker did everything right.

Students of Benedictine College stood to applaud Butker’s speech—and more, they celebrated the distinctive Catholic education they had been privileged to receive at one of the very few colleges deserving Newman Guide Recommended status.

The students and their parents, in choosing education that forms young people in accord with both our Christian faith and the light of reason, did everything right.

That’s because a Newman Guide education is rooted in truth, never yielding to “political correctness” or “wokeness” that changes with every generation and at the whim of destructive political movements.

A Newman Guide college defends the freedom to seek and proclaim truth. It does not accept the radical liberty to deceive and malform students.

A Newman Guide institution chooses commencement speakers who model our Catholic faith, virtue, and wisdom—the sort of people students can emulate. In 2024, these included:

  • evangelist Fr. Mike Schmitz at Ave Maria University (Ave Maria, Fla.),
  • actor Jonathan Roumie at The Catholic University of America (Washington, D.C.),
  • theologian Tracey Rowland at Christendom College (Front Royal, Va.),
  • Supreme Court Justice Samuel Alito at Franciscan University of Steubenville (Steubenville, Ohio),
  • evangelist Fr. Wade Menezes, C.P.M., at Holy Apostles College and Seminary (Cromwell, Conn.),
  • former Knights of Columbus leader Carl Anderson at The Thomas More College of Liberal Arts (Merrimack, N.H.),
  • Catholic bioethicist Carter Snead and Cardinal Raymond Leo Burke at Thomas Aquinas College (Santa Paula, Calif., and Northfield, Mass.),
  • evangelist Fr. David Michael Moses at the University of St. Thomas (Houston, Tex.), and
  • Byzantine Catholic Bishop Robert Pipta at Wyoming Catholic College (Lander, Wyo.).

Any one of these speakers, in complete fidelity to Catholic teaching, might have said something during their commencement speech that Harrison Butker’s critics would not have liked. They probably did, but Butker was the high-profile target.

In fact, the public outcry, NFL statement, and media attacks are intended to topple something much larger than Butker or even Benedictine College. They are aimed at the Catholic Church. They project intolerance for Catholic beliefs and certain truths about the human person. Those who stand with Butker are threatened with all the fanaticism, injustice, and brutality of a totalitarian regime.

Many Catholics like those who rushed to befriend Butker’s critics are quick to compromise and eager to please those who hate them. The Cardinal Newman Society has always represented a different approach. We stand firmly with all that is true, good, and beautiful, and we proudly recommend those Newman Guide schools, colleges, and graduate programs that do the same.

The result? While it seems another private college closes every week in the U.S.—unable to compete with state-sponsored, career-oriented, woke universities on the same terms—most of the Newman Guide colleges are thriving.

Rather than apologize for their Catholic education, they embrace The Cardinal Newman Society’s standards for excellence and fidelity. They realize the importance of having firm policies in place, such as campus speaker policies that favor model Catholics like Butker and prevent those who would scandalize and deliberately mislead students into falsehood.

If there’s one lesson Catholics should learn from the Harrison Butker spectacle, it’s that the education we want is the education modeled by Benedictine College and the other Newman Guide Recommended institutions, as well as faithful Catholic homeschooling and hybrid options.

Why? Because they’re doing everything right.

Copyright © 2024 The Cardinal Newman Society. Permission to reprint without modification to text, with attribution to author and to The Cardinal Newman Society, and (if published online) hyperlinked to the article on the Newman Society’s website. The views expressed herein are those of the author and not necessarily those of The Cardinal Newman Society.