REPORT CARD: Notre Dame Drops Contraception, Pro-Marriage Group at Georgetown Faces Defunding, Pope Affirms Catholic Education

Notre Dame drops abortifacient, contraceptive coverage

University Notre Dame employees will not continue receive free abortifacients and contraceptives under the university’s health insurance plan, despite an earlier message to its employees stating it would retain the coverage, according an email from The Sycamore Trust.

Notre Dame sued the Obama administration in 2013, arguing that the mandate infringed on its religious liberty. While many other Catholic colleges and institutions found some success in the courts, the district judge in Notre Dame’s case was skeptical about Notre Dame’s sincerity.

Since then, Notre Dame students and employees were covered by health plans which offered abortifacients and contraceptives free of charge. But earlier this month the Trump administration granted widespread exemptions to religious institutions from the mandate.

The Sycamore Trust, an association of alumni and other concerned for Notre Dame’s Catholic identity, commented on the university’s decision in a statement.

“The university provides no explanation for changing its mind so late in the day, but it seems reasonable to infer that opposition from some quarters expressed and anticipated was a factor,” The Sycamore Trust said in an Oct. 27 email update.

Georgetown may defund pro-marriage student group

The student group Love Saxa, which promotes and celebrates authentically loving relationships and the importance of marriage and family at Georgetown University, may lose its funding for its defense of Church teaching on marriage, according to

A student, as well as the presidents of GU Pride and Georgetown University Queer People of Color, logged an official complaint about the group. The Hoya, Georgetown’s student newspaper, called for Love Saxa to be defunded, saying it “fosters intolerance” and is, therefore, “antithetical to what a university club should be.”

“These student activists have been emboldened by decades of dissent at Georgetown to take a drastic stand, in open hatred for the Church’s teaching,” Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, told LifeSiteNews. “It is a test of what remains of Georgetown’s Catholic identity. An authentic Catholic university must be able to support a club promoting marriage and healthy sexuality.”

“There’s no wiggle room in this,” he said. “Christ said, ‘Everyone who belongs to the truth listens to my voice.’ An education that does not fully accept the teaching of Christ and His Church is not a Catholic education.”

A hearing to decide Love Saxa’s fate is set for Oct. 30.

Archbishop vows to increase Catholic school enrollment

More students should be attending Catholic schools in the Archdiocese of Portland, Archbishop Alexander Sample said following the release of an archdiocesan-commissioned survey on Catholic education.

“My goal is that no Catholic parent who wishes to send their child to a Catholic school will be denied that opportunity because of an inability to pay. We’ve got to remove the financial wall that keeps Catholic children out of our schools,” he told the Catholic Sentinel.

“One of the biggest findings in all of this is… how small a share of the Catholic quote-unquote market we are reaching in our schools,” he said.

Large numbers of Catholic young people are not being impacted by Catholic schools, according to the survey. The report stressed the need for a “clear Catholic identity” and “excellence in preparing students spiritually, intellectually, morally, and physically.”

Seven Catholic schools to become Lumen Christi Academies in 2018

Seven Catholic schools in the Diocese of Oakland will become Lumen Christi Academies by the start of the next school year, according to California Catholic Daily.

Bishop Michael Barber, SJ, said the move will ensure that Catholic education is available for future generations. “Lumen Christi Academies is a renewal of our commitment to strengthen and sustain Catholic education for our families,” he said.

Elizabeth Guneratne, the project lead for Lumen Christi Academies during this transition year, said the academies are an innovative model of Catholic education, patterned after similar, successful efforts in other Catholic dioceses across the country.

“We are blending the best of our Catholic school traditions with a bold, new commitment to preparing ethical scholars who will illuminate a more just and joyful future,” she said.

Expert: Catholic schools must remain Catholic in anti-Catholic age

“Anti-Catholicism is the last acceptable bigotry in Britain”—especially in British academia, James Arthur of the University of Birmingham said in a talk at Glasgow University, Scotland News reports.

In his lecture on Catholic education and identity, Arthur called on Catholic educators to embrace their distinctive Catholic identity. Warning about the efforts of those outside the Church, he had strong words for those inside the Church, saying that “the main threat to Catholic schools comes from within the Catholic community.”

Catholic schools, he said, must resist the temptation to conform to modern culture.

“The less Catholic they are, the less useful they are to the mission of the Church. The less Catholic they are, the more secular public space becomes and the more regulation forces upon Catholic policies that are likely to repudiate their Faith.”

Saint Louis University president blasts pro-life display vandalism

The destruction of a pro-life display at Saint Louis University was an act of “fundamental intolerance” which “threatens human dignity,” the university’s president said in an email to SLU community members.

“Catholic teaching is clear that defending the dignity of every human person throughout the entirety of life is a primary tenet (sic) of the faith,” Fred Pestello said in the email.

Vandals stole crosses from a pro-life “Cemetery of the Innocents” display earlier this fall.

Former President Clinton returns to Georgetown

Former President Bill Clinton is scheduled to return to his alma mater Georgetown University on Nov. 6 as part of a four-day symposium on the legacy of his presidency, according to the student newspaper.

Organized by the university’s Institute of Politics and Public Service, the event will include a series of panel discussions on the Clinton presidency.

The 25th anniversary of Clinton’s election is the “perfect opportunity” to harness Clinton’s legacy and “inspire the next generation of leaders to public service,” according to Mo Elleithee, GU politics executive director.

Prominent Clinton administration figures slated attend include pro-abort Chicago Mayor Rahm Emanuel; John Podesta, the former White House chief of staff who admitted in emails to attempting to weaken the Catholic Church; and Hillary Clinton.

Clinton’s former Secretary of State Madeleine Albright is a professor of diplomacy in the School of Foreign Service. Clinton campaign strategist Paul Begala is an adjunct lecturer at the McCourt School of Public Policy.

Catholic colleges: Hiring for mission… or not?

Business executives are craving new employees “with moral character,” writes Randall Smith, who attended the Oct. 4-6 Good Profit conference at The Catholic University of America, co-sponsored by the Napa Institute.

Business leaders at the event stressed that “talent wasn’t as important as virtue,” and that hiring for technical skill over virtue is a recipe for failure, he wrote at The Catholic Thing. The conference featured talks from academics, business leaders, philanthropists, entrepreneurs, and religious.

Smith, a theology professor at the University of St. Thomas in Houston, related his findings to some of the major problems with hiring practices at Catholic colleges and universities today.

“You don’t hire people and fit them to a job, they said; you hire people who share your principles and goals and then fit the job to them,” Smith wrote. “You figure out what their gifts and abilities are, and you figure out ways they can produce the most value for your customers, their fellow employees, the company, and society.”

This lesson is lost on many Catholic colleges.

“As a university professor, I might belong to the one category of Catholic institutions left in the country not permitted—indeed, usually forbidden—to ‘hire for mission’ (a Catholic liberal arts mission), to think about ‘virtue’ rather than presumed ‘talent,’” he wrote.

Canadian premier: Bury Catholic curriculum

Alberta Premier Rachel Notley says a sex education curriculum being prepared by Catholic school officials, which upholds Catholic teaching on contraception and gender identity, will never be approved or taught, CTV News reports.

“We will not use public dollars to have sexual health programs that deny science, that deny evidence, and that deny human rights,” she said. “Nowhere do the rights of religious freedom extend to that person’s right to somehow attack or hurt others—and that’s what’s happening here.”

The government provides 70 percent of Alberta private schools’ funding.

Catholic school superintendents are crafting an alternative sex education curriculum for their schools that they want the province to approve. They say the government’s teaching plan is counter to Catholic teaching on issues such as birth control, homosexual relationships, and gender identity.

Notley’s government plans to introduce legislation to compel all schools that receive public money to establish anti-discrimination rules, adopt policies to protect LGBTQ students, and to affirm students’ right to establish gay-straight alliances.

But United Conservative Party (UCP) leadership candidate Jason Kenney defended Catholic schools. “It’s not for me or the premier to dictate to the Catholic education system how it teaches Catholic values,” he said, according to the CBC. “The whole point of the Catholic education system is to be Catholic. That’s what we celebrate in a diverse society, particularly in one that believes in parental choice.”

Pontifical Gregorian University hosts talks on Humanae Vitae

Rome’s Pontifical Gregorian University will host a series of talks over the next eight months concerning the state of the family 50 years after Blessed Pope Paul VI’s encyclical Humanae Vitae, according the National Catholic Register.

There are concerns that some at the Jesuit institution’s event may seek to weaken the encyclical’s teaching against the use of contraception as birth control.

The series will include speakers such as theologian Father Maurizio Chiodi, who was recently appointed a member of the Pontifical Academy for Life, and has reportedly attempted to justify the use of contraception.

Argentine Father Miguel Yanez, SJ, who teaches theology at the Pontifical Gregorian University, is one of the event’s chief organizers. Earlier this month Fr. Yanez said, “Just as we know Amoris Laetitia deals with problems in the context of a time of change, so there are points in Humanae Vitae that we must think about in light of the new situation, in light of the magisterium of Pope Francis.”

Pope Francis affirms Catholic education’s value

Speaking to the community of the Catholic University of Portugal, Pope Francis affirmed the value of Catholic universities, Zenit reports.

Referencing Pope St. John Paul II’s apostolic constitution Ex corde Ecclesiae, the Holy Father said:

“By design and grace of God, you are a Catholic university, a characteristic that in no way harms the university; on the contrary, it enhances its value to the maximum; since, if the fundamental mission of every university is ‘continuous quest for truth through its research, and the preservation and communication of knowledge for the good of society,’ a Catholic academic institution is distinguished by the Christian inspiration of its members and of its own communities, helping them to include the moral, spiritual, and religious dimension in their research and to value the achievements of science and technology from the perspective of the human person as a whole.”

The Pope criticized “mistaken reason, which establishes as its ultimate criterion the pressure of interests and the attraction of the useful,” and he affirmed that the Gospel “reveals the full truth about man and his moral journey.”

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