REPORT CARD: San Domenico School No Longer Catholic; Xavier University Allows ‘Sex Week;’ Trouble Ahead For Small Catholic Colleges?

A spade is a spade: California school drops Catholic accreditation

Remember that California Catholic school that made headlines a few months ago for removing its statues to please non-Catholic students?

The Cardinal Newman Society’s Dan Guernsey responded that removing the statues “may be necessary,” because in fact the school displays no clear commitment to a genuinely Catholic education.

Well, he called it right! The school’s no longer Catholic. Officially.

The Dominican Sisters of San Rafael issued a statement on the school’s website that, after prayer and reflection, San Domenico School in San Anselmo, Calif., will no longer be recognized by the Archdiocese of San Francisco or accredited by the Western Catholic Educational Association (WCEA).

On its website, officials said the reason for the change was that the school couldn’t live with some of the WCEA accreditation standards, such as those requiring “the permeation of Catholic values in all aspects of school life” and having a “religion curriculum instruction that is faithful to Roman Catholic Church teachings.”

Father John Piderit, SJ, the vicar for administration of the Archdiocese of San Francisco, told LifeSiteNews that the Archdiocese lamented the loss but could not “accommodate the school’s well-intended but not particularly religious ethos.”

He added, “The archdiocese is committed to identifying circumstances where such a result could be avoided in the future and intervening earlier.” Thank God for Archbishop Cordileone and his team!

Newman Society President Patrick Reilly told LifeSiteNews that the announcement was at least honest:

“It’s the truth, and truth is the aim of education,” he said. “So kudos to the Sisters for at least acknowledging that San Domenico is not interested in providing authentic Catholic education.

“Of course, that’s a poor choice,” continued Reilly. “It fails to uphold the Dominican Sisters’ charism and does a disservice to San Domenico’s students. But the choice was made long before this announcement.

“Clearly something exciting is happening in the WCEA that forced San Domenico to acknowledge its faults,” he said. “Many other schools remain in the WCEA, and some need improvements. I pray that they either exemplify faithful Catholic education or similarly declare their true intentions.”

Why Notre Dame flip-flopped on contraceptive coverage

Negative press attention and faculty protests may have scared the administration at the University of Notre Dame into allowing free abortifacients and contraceptives under the university’s health insurance plan, according to an article in The Atlantic titled “Why Notre Dame Reversed Course on Contraception.”

“Although the administration claims it reversed course out of respect for the diversity of its community, it’s not clear why it wouldn’t have taken faculty and student objections into account years ago,” the report says. “Meanwhile, religious-freedom advocates see the university’s move as a setback for their cause, because it potentially casts doubt on the sincerity and depth of moral objections to birth control.”

The university had argued in court that signing a waiver of exemption from the HHS contraceptive mandate would cause “scandal.” After losing in court, however, the university complied with the mandate. But even after President Trump announced that religious schools would no longer be forced to comply with the mandate, Notre Dame flip-flopped, deciding to provide coverage.

Ryan Anderson, a senior research fellow at the Heritage Foundation, called Notre Dame’s decision “shameful” and “scandalous.”

“Notre Dame spent five years suing the federal government for the right to provide moral health insurance,” Anderson said on Twitter. “They now have that right. And they’re choosing not to exercise it. They’re choosing to provide immoral health insurance.”

Contraception: It’s not just Notre Dame

Other Catholic colleges may opt not to take advantage of the religious exemption from the HHS contraceptive mandate offered by the Trump administration, according to a report in U.S. News and World Report.

Georgetown currently offers mandated contraceptive coverage for faculty and students under a compromise with the federal government that allows religious objectors to opt-out of paying for contraceptive coverage and “it’s unclear if the coverage will stay in place.”

A university spokeswoman said the school is “reviewing the new regulations.”

Villanova University told U.S. News it has no plans to change current contraceptive coverage, which is provided through its insurance carrier.

No great surprises here, but as these schools publicly admit their break from Catholic teaching, it’s good to get it on the record.

Catholic students host ‘Sex Week,’ demand free condoms

Xavier University’s College Democrats are hosting their first annual “Sex Week,” which supports Planned Parenthood. Oh, and they’re protesting that the school does not distribute condoms.

According to The Washington Examiner, Sex Week events include a pizza party fundraiser and the #KissMyPinkXU fundraiser for a group called The Lipstick Lobby, a social justice group supporting Planned Parenthood and the American Civil Liberties Union.

“Sure, we all know that we go to a Catholic university, but less than 54 percent of us are actually Catholic,” one student said. Another added, “Aren’t we supposed to be tolerant of all beliefs?”

Notice how tolerance is only supposed to go one way.

The writer of the Examiner piece wondered if these students attended a Muslim university, would they push for “Bacon Week”? That, she said, would be “insane.”

Indeed.

Cleveland Catholics seek ‘faith-filled environment’ in Catholic schools

Almost 7,000 people shared their opinions on the state of Catholic education in the Diocese of Cleveland through an online survey named the “Thought Exchange,” expressing interest in “the presence of a faith-filled environment offered to students at Catholic schools.”

According to the diocese, another theme emerging from the feedback is “a great appreciation for the quality of Catholic education that focuses on developing the whole person, not just their academic attributes.”

Taking the ‘Catholic’ out of Catholic universities

Anne Hendershott, professor and director of the Veritas Center for Ethics in Public Life at Franciscan University of Steubenville, has written an excellent piece for City Journal.

“Rather than embracing the good, the true, and the beautiful, Catholic universities have adopted the same curricular fads as their secular peers, hosting departments of gender studies, black studies, ethnic studies, and gay and lesbian studies,” she wrote.

“Campus leaders claim that Catholic universities’ ‘commitment to social justice’ differentiates them from non-parochial colleges, but they neglect to mention that they have defined the term ‘social justice’ so broadly that campuses now welcome chapters of the pro-abortion Law Students for Reproductive Justice.”

Hendershott also points out that most Catholic colleges and universities have all but completely ignored Pope John Paul II’s Ex corde Ecclesiae, which among other things called for theologians to obtain a mandatum from the local bishop as a way of assuring parents that what they teach is consistent with Church teaching. Not only that, but professors (such as Anthony Esolen) have been attacked on their own campuses for simply supporting Catholic teaching.

Read the entire piece. It’s well worth your time.

Tough times ahead for small Catholic colleges?

In light of several small colleges’ closures—including last week’s tragic announcement by St. Gregory’s University in Oklahoma, a Newman Guide college—Inside Higher Ed says there are difficult time ahead for small colleges, especially Catholic ones.

“The spurt of closures would seem to support Harvard Business School professor Clayton Christensen’s recent doubling down on his infamous prediction that as many as half of the country’s colleges and universities will find themselves bankrupt or shuttered within 10 years,” the article said.

The publication points to St. Joseph’s College in Indiana, which recently announced that financial challenges forced the college to suspend academic operations at the end of the upcoming spring semester; Marygrove College in Detroit, which recently announced that it too would shut down undergraduate programs after this semester; and Wheeling Jesuit University in West Virginia and Holy Cross College in Indiana, both deciding to sell parcels of land as part of a trend.

Heather Gossart, a senior consultant with the National Catholic Educational Association, said many small Catholic colleges are struggling because many families, concerned about the cost of tuition, are opting for larger schools under the assumption they’ll be less expensive.

“I think unless every one of our Catholic institutions begins thinking outside the box, and looking at new and creative ways to recruit student populations and to create affordable tuitions, I think we are going to see the demise of some of our smaller Catholic colleges,” she said. “And it’s tragic, because each one brings… a measurable value to the community that it exists in.”

The Newman Society is committed to helping Catholic families find faithful Catholic colleges through our Newman Guide, Recruit Me program, and My Future, My Faith. Every student who chooses a faithful college brings as much as $100,000 or more in tuition to these precious institutions. Help us spread the word!

Mother discusses gender-confused son, Catholicism

Saint Mary’s College in Indiana hosted a lecture titled “A Theological Journey with My Transgender Son.” Emily Garvey said her confusion about what gender meant stemmed from her previous understanding of gender as a binary—i.e., authentic Catholic teaching.

“I have been drawn to the accounts of how Jesus related to other people in ways that were thought to be unconventional, or irregular or unusual,” Garvey said, according to The Observer. “Both of these realities, I have a transgender son, I am Catholic, can be held together.”

Garvey is the assistant director of the Summer Service Learning Program at the Center for Social Concerns at the University of Notre Dame, where she earned a master’s degree in theology.

When her daughter told her that she was now her son, Garvey admitted feeling “uncomfortable,” because she was trying to fit it all within “a Catholic understanding” of gender. Garvey said she soon came to realize that, “born in the image and likeness of God does not mean gender, for God is not gendered.”

Pope Francis has warned about teaching students that everyone can choose their gender, calling it “ideological colonization.”

Voucher foes win control of Colorado school board

Despite strong support for school choice by Denver Archbishop Samuel Aquila and Colorado Springs Bishop Michael Sheridan, Colorado candidates who supported school choice lost in an important election, according to The Washington Post.

In 2009, school choice advocates won control of the Douglas County School Board in Colorado and implemented a voucher program, which was predictably and immediately challenged. The case ended at the U.S. Supreme Court, where it was sent back to the Colorado Supreme Court. Due to precedent set by other cases, victory seemed imminent for the voucher program.

But now a school board—which enjoyed the backing and financial support of teachers’ unions—will take control, and the voucher program will likely be scrapped.

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