The Soros-Funded Attacks on Orthodox Catholic Universities

There is a coordinated attack happening right now aimed at the small number of faithful Catholic colleges and universities. The George Soros-funded attacks are being carried out by disgruntled and angry former students and at least one adjunct faculty member who was not allowed to continue teaching at Franciscan University of Steubenville.

It is a two-pronged attack with the main pincer being supposed slackness in prosecuting charges of sexual assault and harassment with many of the charges dating back more than a decade.

The second prong of the attack is aimed at professors deemed too conservative.

Here is what has happened so far.


Simcha Fisher, the writer who was fired by the National Catholic Register for vulgarity on social media, published a piece claiming that Christendom College refuses to punish students who rape. Fisher quoted a “battered woman counselor” who actually believes, “This is Front Royal; no judge is going to convict a rapist, even with evidence.” Another source told Fisher, “All of Front Royal is a notorious boy’s club” and that the guys can get away with anything, apparently even rape. Yet another anonymous source told Fisher that the rules regulating campus life arise from an ideology, and not from a practical understanding of student behavior. The Christendom accusers say the campus emphasis on modesty and chastity actually foments a rape culture.

The attackers are now calling for the ouster of longtime Christendom president Dr. Timothy O’Donnell. Even his niece has taken to a new anti-Christendom blog to call for his firing.

The article by Fisher was followed shortly thereafter by a hit-piece in the hard-left National Catholic Reporter that repeated the claims made by Fisher and her anonymous sources.

And then the Reporter published a piece by Jenn Morson initiating an attack on that other bright light of orthodox Catholic education, Franciscan University of Steubenville. Morson makes charges similar to those made against Christendom, that there is an assault culture, exacerbated by an overemphasis on Catholic teaching, that is swept under the rug by Franciscan’s administration. Morson cites accusers whose claims date back more than a decade.

What is new in Morson’s piece is an attack on faculty she deems to be too critical of the Obama-era Title IX policies addressing campus sexual harassment and assault. She specifically fingers Professor Anne Hendershott and Professor Stephen Krason both of whom have been critical of how Title IX has been unfairly implemented around the country.

The attackers are latching onto Obama-era guidelines on campus sexual assault that has resulted in young men being accused of rape and then persecuted in ways that violate their civil rights.

Hendershott published a piece at Catholic World Report describing the sometimes nightmare scenario entered into by young men who have been accused of sexual assault. Normal procedures of jurisprudence have been discarded by the Title IX policies such that these men are often considered guilty until proven innocent. She cited a report from the Foundation for Individual Rights in Education (FIRE) that found top schools, including Catholic schools, routinely violate the civil rights of accused young men.

In a piece in Crisis Magazine, Krason called into question the entire idea of a harassment culture, something of a sacramental idea to feminists. Krason specifically criticized the notion that nothing more than an accusation is sufficient to harm and even kill an accused man’s career.

For these pieces, Morson attacked Hendershott and Krason while allies of hers began a call for their firing. An “expression of concern” was circulated by three former students who accuse Hendershott and Krason of making logical fallacies and poor scholarship in a couple of Crisis Magazine columns. Additionally, the three women say Hendershott and Krason have violated Church teaching. The implication is that support of the #MeToo movement and every jot and tittle of Obama’s Title IX policy are now aspects of our Catholic faith.

The three women are also concerned that the university has allowed what they call “right-wing partisanship” to enter into the university community, particularly the Veritas Center where Hendershott is affiliated. The three appear to believe that faithful Catholics cannot also be conservative Republicans.

I repeatedly asked two of the authors, Annie Marie Snoddy and Theresa Williams, to back their claims that Hendershott and Krason have violated Church teaching. Neither would. Snoddy says the letter was to be delivered to university president Fr. Sean Sheridan yesterday.

It should be noted that this series of articles, including Morson’s, were funded by money from George Soros, through something called The Media Consortium and in collaboration with Bitch Media. Morson told Catholic News Agency that she did not know about the grant from Bitch Media until after she had filed her story with the Reporter. But the National Catholic Reporter knew. In fact, the CEO of the National Catholic Reporter is among the leadership of The Media Consortium.

These attacks are a campaign paid for by Soros who is an outspoken enemy of the Church. After he and his ilk have ruined Catholic universities like Marquette and others, he now draws his bead on the little platoons that are trying to reestablish Catholic higher education. Whether she knows it or not, Morson is a part of this campaign.

Morson and the organizers of the letter deny this is any kind of coordinated attack, and they deny the influence of Rebecca Bratten Weiss, the former adjunct professor at Steubenville whose contract was not renewed after her heterodox views were revealed on social media. But the evidence proves otherwise. Case in point, each of the authors of the letter to Steubenville president, along with Morson, Rebecca Bratten Weiss and several others joined the Steubenville Facebook page called “Frannies Talk to Each Other” within hours of each other. This Facebook page was the main organizing point for fomenting efforts against the university and circulating the letter of complaint.

The unifying principle of the participants in this attack is that they seem to have drunk deeply from radical and even toxic feminism, which would inevitably put them at odds with these schools and with the Church in general. Many are also a part of the ongoing social media mob centered around certain columnists at the website Patheos. It is also likely they are looking for a little payback for the firing of Weiss from her adjunct perch at Steubenville last fall.

One thing that has to happen is that Steubenville has to come to the defense of their faculty coming under this coordinated attack. So far, Hendershott and Krason have been muzzled and not allowed to defend themselves. That is not right. But even more than that, the administration has to speak out in their defense. And, do not apologize to the left. Apologies do not work. It will only encourage them.

Writer David Horowitz gets this. He was a red-diaper baby and knows the hard left. He says, the issue is never the issue. The issue is always the revolution. Today it may seem like the issue is racism, or global warming, or confederate statues. But the issue is never the issue. It is always the revolution, that is, tearing down the institutions of the West and of the patriarchy. In this case, the issue is not Title IX. The issue is tearing down Catholic colleges and universities that are just a bit too faithful and therefore rub up against the zeitgeist and the policy prescriptions of the political left.

Other small and orthodox Catholic colleges and universities should beware, especially those who are deemed too conservative, too right-wing. They are coming for you. Some say Ave Maria is next.

Editor’s note (April 29, 2018): The author does not mean to imply that Simcha Fisher’s piece was supported by Soros money. Only the National Catholic Reporter pieces were funded by Soros.

Austin Ruse


Austin Ruse is a contributing editor to Crisis and president of the Center for Family & Human Rights (C-FAM). He is the author of the upcoming Catholic Case for Trump (Regnery, 2020). You can follow him on Twitter @austinruse.

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