Report Card: State threats to religious freedom, pro-abortion Panetta hailed as ‘role model’

Michigan, Pennsylvania cases threaten freedom of Catholic schools

How free should religious schools be to determine who studies at their schools?

In 1994, Michigan courts declined to interfere in a dispute over a Catholic school’s refusal to admit students from three families, because a ruling could interfere with the school’s religious mission.

However, today the Michigan Supreme Court hears arguments in a case stemming from a girl’s claim that she was rejected admission to Notre Dame Preparatory School in 2014 because of a learning disability. The school says she was turned down for low grades, but regardless it argues that the student’s claim of discrimination should not override its constitutional protections.

In today’s political climate and cultural confusion about LGBT issues and gender, this case could have far-reaching ramifications for Catholic education institutions.

The issue has also surfaced in Pennsylvania, where a Commonwealth Court ruled that Chestnut Hill College, a Catholic institution, is subject to state anti-discrimination laws.

The court agreed with the state’s Human Relations Commission, which found probable cause for a discrimination complaint when a student was expelled after allegedly misspending money from a student production of “Raisin in the Sun.”

The court cited a Supreme Court ruling that “colleges, as opposed to parochial schools, perform ‘essentially secular educational functions,’ thus reducing their religious character.” That view 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.

Santa Clara University praises pro-abortion Panetta as ‘role model’

Santa Clara University has invited Leon Panetta, a long-term politician with a radical pro-abortion record, to address its law graduates next month.

Panetta, who served in the U.S. House of Representatives from 1976 to 1994, was a co-sponsor of the federal Freedom of Choice Act. As White House chief of staff, he also defended then-president Clinton’s veto of a bill banning partial-birth abortions.

Santa Clara University School of Law Dean Lisa Kloppenberg shockingly called Panetta “a tremendous role model” for students because of his “decades of ethical leadership and public service.”

“His career exemplifies our University’s Jesuit ethos of putting one’s talents to work in service to others,” she continued. “At every turn he has endeavored to create a more just, humane, and sustainable world.”

Humane to whom?

University of San Diego ignores Vatican, holds sixth annual drag show

The University of San Diego is again under fire for staging its sixth annual drag show.

The show, produced by a USD student group called Pride, should not be taking place on a Catholic college campus because it confuses the Church’s teaching on sexuality, said Thomas McKenna, founder of Catholic Action for Faith and Family.

McKenna said he is hoping for the local bishop to rectify the situation, but the Diocese released a statement saying, “Bishop McElroy is aware of the controversy and has every faith in USD president James Harris to handle it appropriately.”

In 2014, the Vatican Congregation for Catholic Education lamented “the show and the scandal that it caused.”

Councilman apologizes for mocking Catholics and Catholic schools

A politician in Buffalo, New York, is apologizing for statements critical of Catholics and Catholic schools.

In light of the fact that African-Americans only make up 17 percent of enrollment at an exclusive public high school for gifted students, council person Ulysees Wingo proposed preferential enrollment options for public school students as opposed to private or charter school students, in order to address the racial disparity. He didn’t like that many of the students who attend the elite City Honors High School come from Catholic schools, rather than public schools.

“I take exception to the idea that affluent parents who send their children to Catholic schools should have a right, based off of the fact they are Catholic, that they should have exclusive rights to City Honors,” Wingo said. “If parents feel a Catholic education is right for them, by all means go to your Catholic schools and have fun saying your Catholic prayers.”

His comment caused many in attendance to gasp. Another councilman took exception to Wingo’s characterization of Catholic school parents as “affluent,” and talked about how his own parents sacrificed to send their children to Catholic schools.

Wingo called his comments “regrettable” and offered an apology, saying he was “Godly sorry” to anyone he offended.

University of St. Thomas celebrates 70 years of evangelization and education

A faithful Catholic college, the University of St. Thomas in Houston, was featured in a piece in The National Catholic Register as it celebrates 70 years of evangelization and education.

According to Archbishop Michael Miller, of Vancouver, Canada, who served as St. Thomas’ president from 1997 to 2003, “The Basilian charism — and that of St. Thomas — is the Church’s mission of evangelization in the field of education.”

The Catholic institution, which is recommended in The Newman Guide, had just 60 students in 1947 but now is home to almost 4,000 undergraduate and graduate students.

Archbishop Miller described the Catholicism at St. Thomas as “an easygoing orthodoxy. We are not defensive nor argumentative about our Catholic identity. Rather, we hope that people like the example we set.”

Benedictine College reforms yoga class at bishop’s request

In yet another step to reinforce the Catholic identity at Benedictine College of Kansas, a faithful Catholic college recommended by The Newman Guide, the College “plans to rename a yoga class and change the content to ensure the class focuses only on physical exercise and not spiritual or cultural elements,” reports the Associated Press.

College President Stephen Minnis told the student newspaper, “Yoga as created has some potential for eastern mysticism which has caused concern among members of the Catholic Church.” Chief among them was reportedly Archbishop Joseph Naumann of Kansas City and Abbot James Albers of St. Benedict’s Abbey.

Keeping the class stripped of any spiritual references is a compromise with students who opposed removing the class altogether.

University of Mary student exchanges zucchettos with Pope Francis

Each Sunday at noon, University of Mary student Christ Riedman makes his way from University of Mary’s Rome campus to St. Peter’s Square to hear Francis’ homily and pray the Angelus with him and thousands of other pilgrims.

Riedman recently made the most of the opportunity to get up close and personal with Pope Francis by exchanging zucchettos.

“It worked out that I was standing next to a baby, which worked in my favor because the Holy Father always stops to give his blessing and a kiss to babies,” said Riedman, who is double majoring in philosophy and Catholic studies.

As soon as the curtains opened and everyone saw the Pope, the hall erupted in cheers and clapping as people went a little crazy trying to get a moment with the pope. And I don’t blame them – when you see the Holy Father only a few feet away from you, the only thing that you’re able to say is ‘Papa. Papa.’ But this time, I couldn’t even speak. I think for a time I even forgot how to smile. As Pope Francis approached me, I held my hand out holding my zucchetto. He immediately saw it and a grin crossed his face—of course, when is the pope not smiling? We exchanged glances and he then took the zucchetto, sized it up, and placed it on his head.

“I had dreamed of having a special token that signified the papacy and share with others – that of course being a zucchetto,” added Riedman. “After the exchange, I had the opportunity to shake his hand. I was so struck I couldn’t speak, but if I could, I would have thanked him immensely for not just the gift he had given me, but for the impact he continually makes on my life.”

Blaze columnist addresses Notre Dame’s Catholic identity

Matt Walsh, a columnist for The Blaze, spoke recently to students about the University of Notre Dame’s failures to stay true to its Catholic heritage.

“Notre Dame has provided us a helpful demonstration of what the consequences are when a Catholic institution loses its Catholic heritage,” Walsh told students. “This institution calls itself Catholic but proceeds to betray that identity, and in doing so has scandalized the public.”

Walsh suggested that while the university’s honoring of President Barack Obama and Vice President Joe Biden were scandalous, worse yet was the invitation to Texas politician Wendy Davis by the university’s gender studies department.

“Wendy Davis is known for — and only known for — her extremist pro-abortion views,” said Walsh. “Davis is a fierce disciple of the abortion death cult and has devoted her entire life to ensuring the right to kill children.”

Catholic college professors speak out for ‘vulnerable’

More than 1,000 professors from Protestant and Catholic colleges across the United States including Boston College, Georgetown University, and Loyola University of Chicago signed a public statement vowing to defend “vulnerable populations” in light of Trump administration policies.

The statement reads in part:

“Regardless of where Christians stand politically, the gospel demands we recognize vulnerable populations among us. The gospel also demands that Christians recognize ways we benefit from and participate in structural injustices. Ignoring policies that denigrate and even endanger vulnerable groups is not a faithful option, even if privilege allows some to do so. When we have power, we are called to use it justly and for the good of all.”

While the sentiment is worthy, it is rather disturbing that there was no similar outcry from many of these professors during the Obama administration to decry the harming of the most vulnerable population – the unborn.

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