A few years ago the Daily Mail put together a list of the 36 most murderous dictators of the 20th century ordered by the number of deaths tied to their rule. These men didn’t personally go out and murder thousands, and even millions of people, but they were ultimately in charge of those who did carry out mass murder. So they are credited with the death tolls of their regimes.
Using the same logic, why don’t we ever hear that Planned Parenthood Federation of America (PPFA) President Cecile Richards is responsible for over 2.8 million deaths when she appears on television or is quoted in the press? That figure is according to PPFA’s own records of “abortion services” (babies killed) disclosed in their annual reports since 2006, when Richards took the helm at Planned Parenthood. That’s more attributed deaths than Communist Cambodian dictator Pol Pot and 29 other dictators on Daily Mail’s list. But the staggering statistic is never discussed.
I bet it won’t come up when she speaks at Georgetown University in Washington, D.C., next month either.
Yes Georgetown, our nation’s oldest Catholic, and Jesuit, university, is hosting Richards as a guest speaker in April. The student-run Lecture Fund at Georgetown verified this week in an email to The Cardinal Newman Society that it invited Richards. The University issued a statement on March 3 confirming the invite and defending the decision to offer Richards a platform on campus, citing a commitment to “the free exchange of ideas.”
Georgetown said in its statement, “We respect our students’ right to express their personal views and are committed to sustaining a forum for the free exchange of ideas, even when those ideas may be difficult, controversial or objectionable to some,” adding, “Student groups may invite any outside speakers and guests to campus. An appearance of any speaker or guest on campus is not an endorsement by the university.”
Any outside speakers and guests? To be fair, Georgetown does claim to have some restrictions on free speech on campus, but if administrators won’t disinvite Richards, where do they draw the line?
There is already mounting anger and outrage about Richards being given a platform at Georgetown. Richards promotes positions and activism on a daily basis that directly contradict Catholic Church teachings on the dignity of human life and on human sexuality, and she has publicly attacked the U.S. bishops for opposing abortion and defending Church teaching. Her organization kills human beings and sells their body parts. Planned Parenthood is a toxic influence on our culture, especially on our youth, that sells a degrading and immoral version of human sexuality at the expense of U.S. taxpayers in the sum of over half a billion dollars a year.
Richards should not be allowed to speak at Georgetown or any Catholic college.
When conservative commentator Ben Shapiro spoke at California State University, Los Angeles last week, his appearance on campus was met with violent, angry protests organized by a mob of college students enraged simply by the man’s ideas. But I can almost guarantee that when Richards speaks at Georgetown, she’ll be met with much fanfare, praise and adoration — and again, unlike Shapiro, Richards is responsible for the deaths of over 2.8 million babies.
Georgetown is citing free speech on campus in its defense of hosting Richards, as Shapiro’s supporters did. But champions of free speech, including those who supported Shapiro speaking at Cal State LA, are absolutely justified in opposing Richards speaking at Georgetown.
The big difference between these scenarios? The purposes of the educational institutions in question. Cal State LA is a secular college dedicated to diversity, the free exchange of ideas and to preparing students for the job market. There is certainly much of that at Catholic colleges, but the purpose of a Catholic education is to prepare students for heaven, not the job market.
Contrary to popular opinion, Catholic colleges are not meant to offer your typical college experience with a touch of the Church mixed in here and there for flavor. There is an official Vatican document, Ex corde Ecclesiae, issued by Saint Pope John Paul II that outlines the mission, purpose and criteria for Catholic universities: “[A]ll the basic academic activities of a Catholic University are connected with and in harmony with the evangelizing mission of the Church.” The Catholic university “is a living institutional witness to Christ and his message, so vitally important in cultures marked by secularism, or where Christ and his message are still virtually unknown.” Additionally, “Catholic teaching and discipline are to influence all university activities,” and “Any official action or commitment of the university is to be in accord with its Catholic identity.”
There is no educational value for a Catholic university, or furtherance of its Christian mission, in giving the head of an organization that is an enemy of the Church an open platform to espouse cultural and political views that undermine Church teaching.
When it comes to fundamental moral principles of the Catholic faith and objective moral truths, a Catholic college exists for advancing a certain perspective on these questions. And as one priest and theology professor recently told me, Catholic colleges therefore have the right and the obligation to use their resources to advance that perspective and not one that opposes Church teaching.
Freedom of speech and thought is certainly under attack on college campuses. And at secular colleges, there is room and a place for debate on the validity of many ideas where there is contention. There’s room for debate on capitalism versus socialism. There’s room for debate about the names of campus buildings named after known racists. But when it comes to fundamental moral principles of the Catholic faith, a Catholic college’s obligation is to protect, teach and spread those moral truths.
Back in 1999, the Georgetown Lecture Fund hosted pornography tycoon Larry Flynt. During the ensuing controversy, Auxiliary Bishop William Lori of the Archdiocese of Washington, now Archbishop of Baltimore, issued a stinging criticism of Georgetown for allowing Flynt to speak on campus, calling the invite “indefensible” and “utterly contrary to the Catholic identity of Georgetown University.”
“No Catholic university should provide a platform which furthers the degradation of women, immoral behavior, and the anti-religious opinion Mr. Flynt represents,” he said. “Mr. Flynt’s appearance has nothing to do with free speech.” The bishop was right. And Richards, as the head of an organization that kills human beings on a daily basis, is a far more controversial speaker than Flynt.
Adam Cassandra is the news editor for The Cardinal Newman Society. Follow him on Twitter: @adamcassandra.