At least ten Catholic colleges are hosting commencement speakers or honoring individuals this year who are publicly opposed to Catholic beliefs on abortion and marriage.
Although these universities technically subscribe to the church’s prohibition of abortion and same-sex marriage, students at their commencement ceremonies this year will hear from figures publicly opposed to one or both of those teachings. The Cardinal Newman Society, a non-profit founded to “defend faithful Catholic education,” released the list of colleges after examining announced honorees and speakers.
Here are the speakers or honorees identified by The Cardinal Newman Society as “scandalous” picks at ten Catholic colleges, which the group says are sending their students “a dangerous message” in betrayal of “the religious mission of their institutions.”
DePaul University in Chicago will honor Marty Castro at commencement this year. Castro is a Barack Obama appointee to the U.S. Commission on Civil Rights who is an outspoken proponent of same-sex marriage.
Gonzaga University Law School will honor Washington state Attorney General Bob Ferguson, another outspoken proponent of same-sex marriage who joined a legal push in 2014 for the Supreme Court to legalize them. Ferguson also publicly praised a law forcing drug stores to provide what some consider abortive contraceptives to customers, and was endorsed by Planned Parenthood in his 2012 election campaign.
The president of an organization linked to Planned Parenthood will speak at La Roche College in Pittsburgh, Penn., for commencement this year. Aside from that reported link, Mark Shriver’s Save the Children Action Network promotes contraception the Catholic church disapproves of. He also won a 100 percent rating from NARAL Pro-Choice Maryland when he ran for Congress.
Shriver will also give the commencement speech at Seattle University in Washington state.
Former President Bill Clinton, who The Cardinal Newman Society considers a “poor moral example” to the students, will speak at Loyola Marymount University’s commencement in Los Angeles. Clinton has spoken in favor of abortion and same-sex marriage, and has publicly defended Roe v. Wade.
Merrimack College in Massachusetts will host Gov. Charlie Baker as commencement speaker this year. Baker is an outspoken proponent of same-sex marriage and abortion, and has promised to ensure employees in Massachusetts are guaranteed access to contraception the Catholic church opposes.
A nun who publicly dissents from Catholic teaching against women priests will speak at commencement for Regis College in Massachusetts. Sister Simone Campbell is publicly pro-abortion and openly encourages other women to dissent from Catholic teaching on the role of women in the church. Regis will also award an honorary doctorate of science degree to Dr. Paul Farmer, who is the founding director of a health care group that promotes contraceptives.
California public school system superintendent Tom Torlakson will give the commencement speech at Saint Mary’s College of California this year. Torlakson is a public proponent of same-sex marriage and has received a 100 percent rating on abortion from NARAL Pro-Choice California and Planned Parenthood Affiliates of California, among other groups.
Vice President Joe Biden, an outspoken abortion and same-sex marriage proponent, will give the commencement speech at the University of Notre Dame in Indiana. Biden’s loose lips are believed to have forced Obama to take a public stance in favor of same-sex marriage sooner than he had been planning.
Xavier University of Louisiana will host Dr. Helene Gayle as its commencement speaker this year. Gayle is the former CEO of an organization that distributes contraceptives, including what some consider to be abortive contraceptives, and appeared before Congress to urge the overturning of Mexican policies that prevented funding of abortions there.
“By passing over the opportunity to present good role models for students — people who embrace not only a call to leadership but God’s call to virtue and faith — a Catholic college falsely honors those who oppose moral truths and dishonors its graduating students,” Newman Society president Patrick Reilly said in a statement announcing the findings.
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