REPORT CARD: Notre Dame Hires Obama Chief of Staff, Rallies Secularized Catholic Universities; Catholic School Deems Catholic Art ‘Offensive’

Notre Dame hires Obama’s pro-choice chief of staff

The University of Notre Dame has named Denis McDonough, former chief of staff to President Barack Obama, as an executive fellow of the Global Policy Initiative in the university’s new Keough School of Global Affairs where he will teach graduate students, The South Bend Tribune reports.

McDonough has called Obama “our most Catholic of presidents,” despite his strident support of abortion, same-sex marriage, embryonic stem cell research, the HHS contraception mandate, and transgender policies.

Before becoming chief of staff, McDonough was a senior fellow at the Center for American Progress, John Podesta’s infamous leftist lobbying group that was exposed in leaked emails to be attempting to undermine the Catholic Church.

McDonough once wrote a piece arguing against excommunication for pro-abortion politicians, and in another one, he argued that Catholic bishops should not support criminalizing abortion.

Notre Dame’s Fr. Jenkins wants last word on Land O’Lakes

Father John Jenkins, CSC, president of the University of Notre Dame, continues to vigorously defend a document that helped usher in the secularization of Catholic higher education.

Notre Dame will host a panel including Fr. Jenkins and the presidents of Boston College, Fordham University, Trinity Washington University, and the University of St. Thomas (Minn.) to once again consider the history and legacy of the infamous Land O’Lakes statement upon its 50th anniversary.

Not surprisingly, each of those institutions is a prime example of the secularization and scandal in much of Catholic higher education since 1967.

This event, according to Notre Dame’s website, is co-sponsored by the Office of the President and will “consider the statement’s lessons and relevance for today.”

Catholic school strips campus of religious art

Catholics across the country are raising their eyebrows (and now their voices) over a California Catholic school’s decision to remove 162 religious paintings and statues—including one of Mary and Baby Jesus—due to fears that they were “alienating” prospective students.

Parents of prospective students of San Domenico School expressed concern about the artwork, said head of school Cecily Stock, according to the Marin Independent Journal.

“If you walk on the campus and the first thing you confront is three or four statues of St. Dominic or St. Francis, it could be alienating for that other religion, and we didn’t want to further that feeling,” she said. “Over the last few years we’ve had fewer Catholic students as part of the community and a larger number of students of various faith traditions.”

The artworks, according to news reports, were either relocated or donated.

Kimberly Pinkson, director of marketing and communications, summed it up by saying the decision “reflects our commitment to continuing a 167-year tradition of inclusive education.”

Inclusion by excluding Jesus and Mary? Why not just be honest and shed the “Catholic” descriptor entirely?

Shannon Fitzpatrick, whose child attends the school, said in a letter that the move is simply the latest evidence of the school’s de-Catholicization that, in her words, is “afraid and ashamed to celebrate” the Faith.

Americans believe parochial schools are best

A majority of Americans believe that private and parochial schools do a better job than public schools, according to a new survey from Gallup. That’s not surprising, and neither is the divide between Republicans and Democrats who responded to the survey—but it demonstrates how even something like teaching faith to children has become a political football.

The Catholic News Agency reports that about 63 percent of Americans said parochial schools (those supported by a particular church or parish) provide an excellent or good education, according to the poll. In comparison, 44 percent had the same opinion of public schools.

About 71 percent of Republican or self-identified Republican-leaning respondents had a positive view of parochial or church schools, compared to 56 percent of Democrats or Democrat-leaners. Republicans had a lower opinion of public schools than Democrats.

And 46 percent of Americans rated homeschooling as excellent or good, with Republicans or Republican-leaning Americans far more likely to support.

Australian Catholic Church vows to fire teachers in illicit marriages

While the debate about “same-sex marriage” rages Down Under, the Australian Catholic Church has announced that it will fire employees (including teachers) if they legally marry a same-sex partner, according to Australian News.

Melbourne Archbishop Denis Hart said the Church has informed its 180,000 employees that they should adhere to Church teaching “totally” and that any public breach of doctrine would be treated “very seriously.”

“I would be very emphatic that our schools, our parishes exist to teach a Catholic view of marriage,” Archbishop Hart said. “Our teachers, our parish employees are expected totally to uphold the Catholic faith and what we believe about marriage.”

Catholic colleges embrace gender ideology

The New Haven Register reports that many colleges across the country are acquiescing to the demands of gender ideology, and it seems some Catholic colleges, including Sacred Heart University and Fairfield University, are falling in line.

“Fairfield University is committed to providing a welcoming and inclusive community,” said Jennifer Anderson, the university’s vice president of marketing and communications. That inclusivity includes gender-neutral residences and restrooms to accommodate those who claim a gender different from their sex.

Sacred Heart’s director of communications, Deborah Noack, took it a step further by saying, “We embrace a positive view of [LGBTQ] identities and relationships by producing a safe space where people are free to express who they are without fear of reprisal, and we do our best to fulfill all requests for needed accommodations.”

A “positive view” of inclinations that the Church deems “objectively disordered”?

Sacred Heart, she added, is “extremely inclusive” and allows students to “define, determine and declare who they are.”

By contrast, faithful Catholic schools honor God for determining who we are.

Vatican astronomer talks about need for faith, science

Vatican Observatory Director Fr. Guy Consolmagno, SJ, stopped by a small Kentucky Catholic school on his way to view the solar eclipse a few weeks ago, and he talked about the need for good science and strong faith, according to Crux Now.

“The Vatican Observatory was founded in 1891 by Pope Leo XII to show that the Church supports good science and, to do that, we have to have good science,” he said.

The Jesuit priest called on scientists who are also believers to “come out of the closet.”

“More scientists who are church-goers need to make their science known to their parishioners,” he said. “They should set up their telescopes in the church parking lot, or lead natural trails for youth groups.”

Professor accused of racism for saying ‘all cultures are not equal’

An avalanche of criticism and even accusations of racism have greeted an essay co-authored by a University of San Diego law professor.

The editorial by the University of Pennsylvania’s Amy Wax and USD’s Larry Alexander, which appeared in The Philadelphia Inquirer, appropriately criticizes America’s embrace of birth control and divorce. That would be enough to stir opposition in a society that is quick to deem traditional morality “offensive.”

But the authors also defend America’s lost “bourgeois culture” for its embrace of “family values” and assert that “all cultures are not equal.” They decry the rise of children being born out of wedlock and immigrants resisting assimilation. has disparaged the piece as “laughable swill” and a “thinly veiled avatar for white male supremacy.”

According to Insider Higher Ed, a column signed by 54 UPenn students and alumni labeled the piece “steeped in anti-blackness and white hetero-patriarchal respectability, i.e. two-hetero-parent homes, divorce is a vice and the denouncement of all groups perceived as not acting white enough, i.e., black Americans, Latino communities and immigrants in particular.”

A group of Penn law professors wrote that the views expressed in the editorial cannot be “washed clean of their racist roots.”

“I reject emphatically any claim that a single cultural tradition is better than all others,” said Ted Ruger, dean of UPenn’s law school.

A USD spokeswoman said in response that the university is committed to “contributions from all religions, cultures and points of view” but gave no defense of the article’s consistency with Catholic moral values on family and sexuality.

Alexander strongly denies the charges of racism.

“There’s not a single racist claim in it,” he said. “I have a multiracial family. This is the kind of thing—when you don’t have an argument that deals with the claims made, you just make claims like it’s racist, it’s sexist, it’s homophobic. That’s a sure sign you don’t have an argument.”

“Offense is largely manufactured,” he continued. “This is another thing people can cite in order to claim power. …This is another way to arrogate power, by claiming you’ve been offended.”

Former Catholic professor pushes atheist parenting techniques

A former Catholic college professor who authored Raising Freethinkers: A Practical Guide for Parenting Beyond Belief will lead a workshop on how atheist parents should raise children, according to The Gazette.

From 1991 to 2006, Dale McGowan was associate professor of music at St. Catherine University, a Catholic women’s university in Minneapolis/St. Paul.

Marquette funding research to undermine Catholic identity

The Louis Joliet Society, a group of alumni, parents and friends working to help rediscover Marquette University’s Catholic identity, is questioning why the Jesuit university is supporting research that may well undermine Catholic teaching.

Marquette is sponsoring a professor’s research into developing “tailored interventions for LGBT people to help them cope with stressors that are specific to their sexual orientation or gender identity,” the Louis Joliet Society reports.

While it may seem like a good idea to help any student deal with stress, the Society points out that Professor Nicholas Heck appears to believe that Catholic schools are one of those “stressors” for LGBT youth.

Heck co-authored a 2013 study entitled, “A Comparison of Sexual Minority Youth Who Attend Religiously Affiliated Schools and Their Nonreligious-School-Attending Counterparts,” which plainly stated: “If sexual minority youth who attend religiously affiliated schools are facing increased minority stress above and beyond the health disparities already present within this at-risk population, then future research is needed in this area to document the risks involved with attendance at such schools as a sexual minority.”

A Marquette news release says Heck is receiving $32,000 and a semester off to conduct the research.

Villanova to host dissenting Jesuit author Fr. James Martin

Villanova University recently hosted Father James Martin, SJ, in The St. Thomas of Villanova Church on campus where he presented a talk entitled, “Building a Bridge: The Church and LGBT Community.”

Fr. Martin, a Jesuit priest and editor-at-large of America magazine, has become an increasingly controversial figure in the American Catholic Church.

The National Catholic Register recently said that Fr. 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.”

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