“We didn’t invite Hillary Clinton, she asked to come. So we had no choice but to say ‘yes’ to hosting the campaign rally.”
That’s what a Catholic college official allegedly told the distraught mother of two students who called the college last week to complain. The mother then called me to ask what she could do.
The college official’s lack of sensitivity to scandal was nothing new to my ears, so I confess that I was a bit underwhelmed. These Catholic campus political events featuring pro-abortion politicians have been a problem for years. So I was caught off guard when the caller started to cry.
Her reaction was the appropriate one. Praise God for mothers who still fear for their children’s innocence!
Is it ever appropriate for a Catholic institution — whether a college, parish, school, hospital, charity, advocacy group, or other organization — to host a political rally or stump speech featuring a pro-abortion politician? Do we appreciate the dreadful consequences of this?
Catholic institutions need to get their priorities straight. That’s what, in a nutshell, 18 national Catholic organizations said in a public statement released today.
“We call on Catholic institutions to join us in refusing to honor or provide a public forum for any political leader or candidate who acts ‘in defiance of our fundamental moral principles,'” reads the “Statement of Principles Regarding Catholic Institutions, Sanctity of Life and Political Engagement.”
“This includes any politician who undermines a ‘culture of life’ by advocating public policies to permit or support abortion, physician-assisted suicide, embryonic stem cell research or any other threat to innocent human life. It also includes politicians who would threaten the institution of marriage.”
The coalition that endorsed the statement includes the Catholic League for Religious & Civil Rights, the Catholic Medical Association, Catholics United for the Faith, Human Life International, Morley Publishing/InsideCatholic.com, and 13 other leading Catholic organizations and media.
The Cardinal Newman Society, the coalition leader that prepared the statement, has good reason to be concerned about politicians on Catholic college campuses:
· On February 13, St. Mary’s University in San Antonio hosted a Clinton rally, shamefully disregarding Archbishop Jose Gomez’s public opposition.
· Four days later, St. Norbert College in Wisconsin did the same.
· Last month, St. Peter’s College in New Jersey hosted a large rally for Sen. Barack Obama — and even helped recruit the thousands of participants.
· Loras College in Iowa hosted a similar Obama rally last March.
The bishops have been increasingly outspoken against such events, for which they deserve our prayers and letters of gratitude. But the colleges aren’t listening, which prompted the coalition of faithful Catholic organizations today to urge their fellow Catholic institutions to put Catholic teaching first.
“Catholic institutions should engage the culture from a faithfully Catholic perspective, not a position of neutrality,” the coalition’s statement reads. “Political engagement does not require partisanship or endorsement of particular candidates. But it also does not require secularization, by which Catholic institutions accept moral relativism and simply mirror secular culture.”
Catholic institutions that host pro-abortion political candidates — whose primary purpose for such events is to secure votes for election, thereby enabling their “culture of death” agenda — must not “set aside” moral concerns “in the pursuit of public attention and prestige.”
Such political events, the coalition says, “may imply Catholic support” for a candidate’s objectives, “or at least diminished concern about the threat they pose to innocent human lives. It lends the resources and facilities of Catholic institutions to those who would defy our fundamental moral principles.”
When Catholic institutions are used by politicians to advance the culture of death, the appropriate response is great sadness or outrage. When the principles in today’s statement are no longer controversial among institutions claiming a Catholic identity, the renewal of Catholic life in America can finally succeed.