REPORT CARD: St. Gregory’s University to Close; Notre Dame Retains Contraception Coverage; Newman Society Praises Georgetown Students’ Decision
St. Gregory’s University suspending operations
St. Gregory’s University will suspend operations at the end of the fall semester after the U.S. Department of Agriculture denied the Newman Guide-recommended college’s loan application.
While Fr. Don Wolf, chairman of the university’s board, said he felt “great sadness” over the decision, he added that “our main concern at this moment is for our students, staff, and faculty who will be profoundly impacted by this decision.” He asked others to keep the students in their prayers.
“I am grateful for our excellent staff and faculty who have labored for years under severe financial constraints, dedicated to providing the best education for our students,” said university president Dr. Michael Scaperlanda. “They have provided generations of students a framework to live joy-filled lives in service to others.”
The college, which opened in 1875 and is Oklahoma’s only Catholic university, currently has slightly more than 400 students, according to The Newman Guide.
The Newman Guide said of St. Gregory’s that “the Benedictine influences and the university’s commitment to authentic Catholic education are strong,” and that “the university is not shy about integrating its commitment to Catholic teaching in the classroom and in campus life.”
Over the next few weeks, the college will host transfer fairs and job fairs. The university has indicated that it will continue to seek opportunities to reopen in the future.
Notre Dame flip-flops, will keep contraceptive coverage
In disappointing news, the University of Notre Dame has announced it will continue providing insurance plans to employees which provide cost-free access to artificial birth control. It is also expected to do the same with a plan offered to students, according Catholic News Agency.
This is a scandalous turnaround as the university named after Our Lady announced just two weeks ago that it would cease offering insurance for no-cost contraceptives following the Trump administration’s expansion of an exemption for religious employers under the HHS mandate.
While astonishingly insisting that it “follows Catholic teaching about the use of contraceptives,” Notre Dame, in an email to faculty and staff, said, “recognizing, however, the plurality of religious and other convictions among its employees, it will not interfere with the provision of contraceptives that will be administered and funded independently of the university.”
The claim is disingenuous: while such coverage may be provided by third-party insurers, it is Notre Dame that has freely chosen to facilitate the coverage to both employees and students, rejecting the religious exemption offered by the federal government and sought by Notre Dame in its weak lawsuit against the HHS mandate.
The Sycamore Trust, an organization committed to enhancing Notre Dame’s Catholic identity, called it a “stunning announcement.”
“The crucial point is that this delivery system is exactly the same as the Obamacare so-called ‘accommodation’ system that Notre Dame swore to the courts is ‘contrary to its faith’ because it compels it to ‘facilitate practices that Catholic doctrine considers morally wrong,” the group said.
Loyola Marymount offers contraceptive coverage
An article in Loyola Marymount University’s student newspaper unsurprisingly confirmed that the Jesuit institution’s “current health care, covered through Aetna, currently covers contraceptives, contraceptive counseling services and over-the-counter, emergency and prescription drugs.”
Students quoted in the piece said they believe that becoming pregnant while in college could affect their education, so birth control coverage is necessary. (The unstated assumption, of course, is that illicit sexual activity is also necessary or inevitable.)
The story fails to quote anyone concerned about the school’s Catholic identity.
Pope Francis encourages Catholic universities to help refugees
Speaking to members of the International Federation of Catholic Universities, Pope Francis asserted an obligation of Catholic colleges and universities to help construct “a more just and more human world.”
“Catholic universities have always sought to harmonize scientific with theological research, placing reason and faith in dialogue,” the Holy Father said to conclude the “International Conference Migrants and Refugees in a Globalized World: Responsibility and Responses of Universities” at the Pontifical Gregorian University in Rome, according to Zenit. “I believe it is appropriate to initiate further studies on the remote causes of forced migrations, with the aim of identifying practicable solutions also in the long term, as it is necessary first to ensure that people have the right not to be forced to emigrate.”
He also urged attendees to focus on the “sometimes discriminatory and xenophobic first reactions to migrants in countries of ancient Christian tradition,” as well as the “many contributions migrants and refugees bring to the societies that welcome them.”
Georgetown students praised for not punishing pro-marriage student group
Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly had an interesting question in the face of a student board’s decision to allow a group at Georgetown University, Love Saxa, to remain on campus.
You might recall that Love Saxa had been labelled a “hate group” for defending the Church’s teaching on marriage.
“It’s very heartening when students set the example and make mature decisions,” Reily told LifeSiteNews. “I wonder, would Georgetown’s faculty and leaders have had the same courage and conviction about Georgetown’s Catholic mission? Sadly, that’s an open question, given the open hostility toward Catholic teaching that we have seen at Georgetown over the years.”
In fact, the administration still holds the right to overturn the students’ decision. We shall see.
Joseph Pearce on the Catholic education revolution
Author Joseph Pearce, senior fellow for The Cardinal Newman Society, took part in a lengthy and engaging discussion, which appeared at The Imaginative Conservative, where he spoke about the revolution in Catholic education.
“There’s also the rise of a whole new generation of independent Catholic and Christian schools that are breaking away from those so-called Catholic and Christian schools that have lost touch with the authentic nature of Christian education,” he said. “People are seeing that the mainstream has become polluted and are choosing to swim in different streams.”
He recalled that years ago, “mainstream Catholic colleges and universities completely bailed out of any realistic, authentic Catholicism” leaving faithful Catholics with limited options, but then colleges like Thomas Aquinas College and Christendom College were created, setting off a revolution in Catholic higher education.
“Today, we have the Cardinal Newman Society which publishes a Guide to authentic Catholic colleges, and I think there are now 27 schools that pass the criteria … as authentically Catholic,” he said. “So from none to only two, and then, in the last 20 years, a multitude of new and good schools have sprung up.”
CUA welcomes Puerto Rican students free of charge
In the wake of Hurricanes Irma and Maria, which destroyed much of Puerto Rico, The Catholic University of America, a Newman Guide college, announced that it is welcoming Puerto Rican students seeking to continue their undergraduate education free of charge.
“Inspired by the example of Pope Francis and our bishops, we wanted to make a more significant impact by offering our support during the spring semester,” said John Garvey, president of Catholic University of America, according to Catholic World Report. “We believe the best support we can provide is a welcoming community where impacted students can continue their academic pursuits.”
Saint Mary’s College students question occult retreat
A number of students at Saint Mary’s College in California are questioning how a student retreat with occult paraphernalia and instructions aligns with Catholic teaching.
The Lasallian community which ran the retreat is supposed to focus on the charism of St. John Baptiste de La Salle, the founder of the Christian Brothers. But some students are concerned over some practices of the retreat’s leader, according to the Saint Mary’s Collegian.
Michaela Daystar has a “MA in Leadership for Social Justice” and is “an accredited SoulCollage facilitator, a Reiki master practitioner and teacher.”
One student described the retreat Daystar led as “very illuminati.” The event included “Goddess Guidance” oracle cards and “Messages from your Animal Spirit” in a church and statues from other religion.
Notre Dame hosts live video lecture from dissenting priest
Author Father James Martin, S.J., touched on material from his new book in a live video presentation sponsored by The University of Notre Dame’s Campus Ministry, the Gender Relations Center, and the Center for Social Concerns.
Fr. Joe Corpora of Notre Dame’s Campus Ministry, told the Notre Dame Observer that he hoped the lecture would spark a discussion with gender-confused students.
“The way I began this whole thing at Notre Dame is that I kept running into students who were totally of the Church, had left the Church,” Fr. Corpora said. “But then I would run into other students who were on the way out or maybe quietly out but really still wanted to be Catholic. And I thought, ‘Well if they come out and leave the Church, then who’s going to be left for the Church?’”
Fr. Martin has increasingly become a polarizing advocate on sexual “identity” issues that don’t seem to be supported by Catholic teaching. A recent article in the National Catholic Register suggests, “Father Martin puts forth the notion that the Church has misunderstood God’s plan for human sexuality for her entire history and that she must now switch to a new teaching, namely that the union of man and woman in marital love is not the only path for the true and good expression of human sexuality.”
Jesuit: Georgetown is ‘more Catholic than it has ever been’
The Georgetown student newspaper published a piece titled “As Jesuit Presence Fades, Georgetown Recommits to Its Roots,” which concludes with one Jesuit saying the university is “much more Catholic than it ever has been.”
The piece says that despite “a steady decrease in Jesuit professors over the last 60 years,” the campus’s pluralistic student body and assortment of interfaith ministries is evidence that this “230-year experiment in Jesuit education is realizing its full potential.”
“Georgetown’s incorporation of many faiths is not a retreat from its Jesuit roots; it is a fuller realization of their foundational principles,” The Hoya reports.
“You can’t be on this campus three or four days without hearing about social justice,” Father Otto Hentz, S.J., said as proof of the university’s Jesuit identity. “This place is much more Catholic than it ever has been.”
I believe the social justice part.
Catholic college gives up fight for religious freedom
After a years of battling, Chestnut Hill College announced that it will accept a Pennsylvania Supreme Court denial and face a hearing from the Pennsylvania human rights commission (PHRC) concerning an allegation of racism from a former student, according to BillyPenn.com.
In an email, Chestnut Hill President Sister Carol Jean Vale said, “After much consideration, reflection, and prayer, we have decided to permit the PHRC matter to be remanded for discovery and a public hearing. Although we found strong legal precedent to support an appeal to the United States Supreme Court, it is our judgment, that a public hearing is best for all involved.”
Chestnut Hill had previously claimed that the PHRC had no jurisdiction since it is a Catholic college, but the court cited a Supreme Court ruling that “colleges, as opposed to parochial schools, perform ‘essentially secular educational functions,’ thus reducing their religious character.”
In short, we have the government establishing a litmus test on whether a college’s mission is secular or religious, despite what the college itself says. That view, of course, contrasts with Ex corde Ecclesiae, the apostolic constitution on Catholic higher education, which asserts the strong religious mission of Catholic colleges that remain faithful to the Church.
Catholic education horror stories
In a nod to Halloween, Randall B. Smith shares several Catholic education horror stories at The Catholic Thing.
He writes about a young woman who was told that “the main task of the theology teacher is to attend the student’s football games and activities, to show them that the Church is there for them.” She was also criticized for assigning too much reading.
She left that school and now teaches at an elite Catholic classical school.
While the stories he shares are troubling for diocesan Catholic schools, Smith concludes that, “signs of new life and growth are springing up all over; usually not on the stone-hard crypt, but around them, in the fertile, loamy soil where the seed of the sower can take root, grow, and flourish.”