Origins and Milestones

Newman and JP2

The Cardinal Newman Society was founded by Catholic laypeople to promote and defend faithful Catholic education, following upon Saint Pope John Paul II’s 1990 release of the Apostolic Constitution on Catholic higher education, Ex corde Ecclesiae.

1993: The Journey Begins – Catholic college alumni launch The Cardinal Newman Society to support Ex corde Ecclesiae and renewal of Catholic higher education.

1995: Pro-Abortion Accreditor Backs Down – Newman Society joins U.S. bishops and Christian colleges opposing rules by accrediting agency forcing medical schools to teach abortion and sterilization. After oversight hearing in U.S. House of Representatives, accreditor backs off.

1996: Contributions to Bishops’ Guidelines – U.S. bishops invite Newman Society to advise on guidelines to implement Ex corde Ecclesiae. Vatican shares Society’s concerns about bishops’ 1996 guidelines. U.S. bishops approve final guidelines in 1999, consistent with Newman Society recommendations.

1999: Commencement Scandal Averted – Newman Society report on commencement speakers leads columnist Anna Quindlen to withdraw from Villanova University commencement, and Worcester Bishop Daniel Reilly boycotts Assumption College commencement because of honor to Lt. Gov. Jane Swift.

2000: Bishops Implement Mandatum U.S. bishops approve mandatum guidelines consistent with Newman Society’s recommendations. Society publicly defends mandatum from criticism by theologians.

2003: Catholic College Student Survey – Newman Society commissions UCLA Higher Education Research Institute study of students at 38 Catholic colleges, finding increased dissent and declining religious practice over four years of a Catholic college education.

2003: Commencement Scandal Fallout – Marist College drops Catholic label when Newman Society objects to commencement speaker NY Attorney General Eliot Spitzer. Following Society’s reports, Worcester Bishop Daniel Reilly boycotts commencement honor for political pundit Chris Matthews at College of the Holy Cross, and Scranton Bishop James Timlin boycotts commencement honor for Matthews at University of Scranton.

2004: V-Monologues Campaign Steps Up – Newman Society continues campaign against Catholic campus productions of The Vagina Monologues with full-page ads in USA Today, The Washington Times and National Catholic Register. Today V-Monologues performances on Catholic campuses have declined dramatically.

2004: Bishops Announce Honors/Platform Policy – U.S. bishops respond to college scandals with policy banning Catholic “awards, honors or platforms” for those who defy “our fundamental moral principles.”

2005: More Commencement Fallout – Marymount Manhattan College drops Catholic label when Newman Society objects to commencement speaker Sen. Hillary Clinton. Following Society’s report on commencements, Baltimore Cardinal William Keeler boycotts Loyola College commencement with former NYC Mayor Rudolph Giuliani, and New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes boycotts Loyola University New Orleans commencement with Sen. Mary Landrieu.

2006: Website Abortion Referrals Removed – Newman Society report on Catholic college website referrals to pro-abortion organizations and clinics prods Boston College, Georgetown, Santa Clara and other colleges to remove links.

2007: Catholic College Guide Released – First Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College recommends 21 faithfully Catholic colleges and helps Catholic families navigate the college search. Now an annual publication, the Guide remains a valuable print and online resource for Catholic families nationwide and even abroad.

2007: Shining the Light – Worcester Bishop Robert McManus welcomes Newman Society to cathedral for rally opposing NARAL-Planned Parenthood event at College of the Holy Cross. Roberta Wilhelm withdraws from commencement at College of St. Mary in Omaha.

2007: Vatican Exhibit on Eucharist – Real Presence Association selects Newman Society as national coordinator for college displays of Vatican’s Eucharistic Miracles of the World exhibit. Now also serving Catholic schools.

2008: Higher Education Center – Newman Society launches Center for the Advancement of Catholic Higher Education to promote best practices in Catholic colleges. Center releases national survey of Catholic students, finding dissent and sexual activity. Center’s activities later incorporated into Newman Society working groups of college presidents and other leaders, including annual conferences of college presidents, student life leaders, and admissions officers.

2008: Campus Politics Confronted – Newman Society leads 18 Catholic organizations in urging Catholic colleges to reject pro-abortion speakers and honorees. Society and local bishops oppose Hillary Clinton campaign events at St. Mary’s University and Mercyhurst College and speech by St. Louis University coach at Clinton rally.

2008: Pope Benedict Challenges Educators – Pope Benedict XVI visits Catholic University of America to present vision for Catholic education. Newman Society drives media coverage and counters papal critics.

2008: Scandals Averted, Opposed – Presentation College withdraws commencement invitation to Sen. Nancy Turbak Berry. U.S. bishops’ doctrinal committee moves seminar from University of Notre Dame to oppose presentations of V-Monologues.

2009: Faithful and Affordable Campaign – Newman Society publishes and promotes study finding relatively low costs for attending The Newman Guide colleges.

2009: Notre Dame Commencement Scandal – Newman Society leads opposition to Notre Dame commencement honors to President Barack Obama; 367,000 sign Society’s petition, 83 U.S. bishops publicly oppose honors. Following Newman Society report on commencements, New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes boycotts Xavier University commencement with political activist Donna Brazile, and Bridgeport Bishop William Lori boycotts Sacred Heart University dinner honoring dissident Catholic Kerry Kennedy.

2009: Guides to College Renewal – Newman Society publishes The Enduring Nature of the Catholic University in honor of Pope Benedict XVI’s vision for renewal and reprints classic How to Keep Your University Catholic by Fr. Leonard Kennedy.

2009: Pope Benedict XVI Receives The Newman Guide – Newman Society President Patrick Reilly presents copy of The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College to Pope Benedict XVI on Vatican steps.

2010: Newman Legacy Project, Beatification – Newman Society leads official U.S. pilgrimage to Beatification of John Henry Cardinal Newman in England and works to preserve his original manuscripts.

2010: One Million Prayers for Holy Father – Newman Society members pledge more than one million prayers for Pope Benedict XVI following media attacks.

2011: Scandals Exposed, Decline – Newman Society reports reveal more than 150 ties between Catholic colleges and Planned Parenthood and professors promoting physician-assisted suicide. Further declines in scandalous commencement speakers and honorees and Catholic campus performances of The Vagina Monologues.

2011: “Adoration U” – Newman Society launches AdorationU.com and “Adoration U” video, promoting devotion to Blessed Sacrament among college students. Video featured on EWTN.

2011: Catholic College Assessment – Newman Society releases Assessing Catholic Identity, handbook for Catholic college leaders to assess compliance with Ex corde Ecclesiae.

2011: Campus Monitoring – Newman Society reports lead Notre Dame trustee Roxanne Martino to resign over pro-abortion donations, St. Francis University to cancel lecture with Ellen Goodman, and bishops to intervene in homosexual conferences at Fordham and Fairfield University.

2011: Defending Religious Freedom – Newman Society and 18 colleges join in appeal to Obama administration to rescind contraceptive insurance mandate. Society commissions attorneys to advise Catholic colleges on religious liberty threats, defends single-sex dorms at Catholic University of America from critics and lawsuit threat, and exposes National Labor Relations Board violations against Catholic colleges.

2012: Catholic Education Honor Roll – Newman Society assumes management of Catholic High School Honor Roll program from Acton Institute. Now titled Catholic Education Honor Roll, this important program identifies model Catholic schools nationwide and helps strengthen Catholic identity.

2012: More Scandals Averted, Exposed – Newman Society report prompts Villanova University to cancel workshop by gay performance artist. Bishops halt commencement scandals at Anna Maria College and Mercy College of Ohio. Archdiocese of Washington joins Newman Society’s concerns about Georgetown graduation with HHS Sec. Kathleen Sebelius.

2012: Georgetown Canon Law Petition – Georgetown University alumni launch canon law petition concerning Catholic identity, invite Newman Society assistance and advice. Society provides dossier on concerns at Georgetown.

2012: My Future, My Faith – Newman Society launches My Future, My Faith magazine, companion to The Newman Guide that helps students navigate transition from high school to college. Since then, Society distributes more than 100,000 free copies to Catholic families.

2012: Pope Benedict Urges Reform – Pope Benedict XVI tells U.S. bishops, “providing young people with a sound education in the faith represents the most urgent internal challenge facing the Catholic community in your country,” and urges compliance with mandatum for theology professors.

2013: Catholic Is Our Core – Newman Society launches CatholicIsOurCore.org and co-sponsors meetings with bishops and diocesan superintendents to address concerns about Common Core standards in Catholic schools. In 2014, U.S. bishops’ education office issues statement urging caution with regard to Common Core. Newman Society later works to develop principles of Catholic education tied to magisterial documents and Catholic school curriculum standards.

2013: Twentieth Anniversary – Marking Newman Society’s 20th anniversary, Catholic education leaders declare gratitude for work to promote Catholic identity: “inspirational and evangelical,” “beacon for Catholic identity,” “courageous voice.”

2014: Recruit Me – Newman Society launches online program allowing Catholic colleges recommended in The Newman Guide to compete for prospective students.

2014: Fighting Threats to Religious Freedom – Newman Society publicly protests District of Columbia laws threatening faithful Catholic educators and California regulations requiring contraception and abortion coverage in employee health plans.  Society works with colleges to address concerns about Title IX regulations on sex and gender.

2015: Restoring Campus Liturgy – Newman Society cosponsored Sacra Liturgia conference in New York, including special sessions with Cardinal Raymond Burke and Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone on teaching and modeling good liturgy in schools and colleges.

2015: Support for Archbishop Cordileone – Countering opposition to morality clauses in teacher contracts, Newman Society collects more than 7,300 notes of support from 27 countries for San Francisco Archbishop Salvatore Cordileone. To make the case for teachers as witnesses to the faith, Society publishes A Call to Teach and Faith and Morals Language in Catholic School Teacher Employment Documents: Best Practices Brief.

2015: Religious Freedom at Supreme Court – Newman Society joined Catholic and other Christian leaders in letter urging Congress to protect religious institutions following Supreme Court approval of same-sex marriage. As SCOTUS later took up Obama administration’s contraceptive mandate, Newman Society joined U.S. bishops conference in amicus brief defending religious freedom. Society hosted emergency meeting of college presidents to plan defense against legal threats.

2015: Catholic Education Anniversaries – Celebrating 50th anniversary of Gravissimum Educationis and 25th anniversary of Ex corde Ecclesiae, Newman Society participates in Vatican World Congress on Education and is welcomed for work with Catholic schools and colleges. Society releases teacher in-service programs to study Vatican II document on education.

2016: Calling for Appropriate Dorm Policies – Newman Society calls on Catholic colleges to promote a culture of chastity by enforcing appropriate dorm policies and releasing a report documenting the bedroom visitation policies at U.S. Catholic colleges.