The Parade of Democrat Politicians on Catholic Campuses Continues
By: Anne Hendershott
As the 2010 commencement season concludes, a review of the graduation speakers and honorees reveals, yet again, that Catholic colleges continue to honor pro-abortion and pro-gay marriage politicians on their campuses.
Drawing from research compiled from the Cardinal Newman Society, California Catholic Daily reports that several Catholic colleges—many of them in California—have invited commencement speakers or awarded honorary degrees to those whose public positions and actions are clearly at odds with fundamental Catholic teachings. Despite the USCCB’s 2004 statement, “Catholics in Political Life,” which maintains that Catholic colleges “must not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles,” the reality remains that these Catholic campuses continue to defy the bishops’ instructions.
State Superintendent of Public Instruction, Jack O’Connell, a career Democratic politician who during 20 years as a Democratic state legislator compiled a nearly perfect pro-abortion, pro-Planned Parenthood voting record addressed the graduates at St. Mary’s College in Moraga. California Catholic Daily points out that “O’Connell was a high profile opponent of Proposition 8, the initiative constitutional amendment approved by voters in 2008 that defined marriage in California as between one man and one woman.
As Superintendent of Public Instruction, O’Connell was featured in TV ads urging voters to reject Proposition 8, claiming that public schools would not teach or influence students to favor same-sex marriage. O’Connell worked in direct opposition to the current Bishop of Oakland, Salvatore Cordileone, St. Mary’s presiding bishop and one of the main promoters of the pro-Proposition 8 campaign. As a reward for his defiance of their bishop, O’Connell was given the honor of addressing the graduates of the Catholic college.
The pro-abortion Democratic Governor of Massachusetts, Deval Patrick, was the commencement speaker at Loyola Marymount University. Prior to serving as governor, Patrick served as assistant attorney general for civil rights during the Clinton administration where he claims to have “led the fight to keep discrimination out of the Massachusetts constitution and preserve the right of same sex couples to marry.”
Loyola Marymount also invited Marlene Canter, a former Democratic member of the Los Angeles Unified School Board, to address the Graduate commencement. In Los Angeles, Canter has called the legalization of same sex marriage “an issue of simple fairness and basic human rights.” The Cardinal Newman Society also reports that Canter has opposed a parental notification abortion law.
The University of San Francisco gave an honorary degree to Lloyd Dean, president of Catholic Healthcare West, and a strong proponent of Obama’s health care reform – replete with abortion funding. While Dean is not a politician, he has been a generous donor to the Democratic Obama campaign, and joined Sr. Carol Keehan in defying the bishops on passing the health care reform plan. USF also gave an honorary degree to Notre Dame President, Fr. John Jenkins, whose invitation to Barack Obama for last year’s Notre Dame commencement address helped to set a precedent for other Catholic colleges wishing to defy their bishops.
Beyond California, Mark Shriver, a 2002 pro-abortion Democratic candidate for the U. S. House of Representatives from Maryland was the commencement speaker at the College of the Holy Cross. The Cardinal Newman Society reports that while a 2002 candidate for the House, Shriver joined the rest of the Kennedy family in their pro-abortion advocacy by stating in a Washington Post interview that, “I will continue to fight for a woman’s right to choose.”
And, although new Massachusetts Senator Scott Brown is the lone Republican in a long list of pro-abortion Democratic commencement speakers on Catholic campuses this year, Brown’s pro-choice position most likely made him a palatable choice for commencement speaker at Boston College’s Law School.
It is ironic that the same month that Jack O’Connell, the pro-gay marriage politician was honored to give the commencement speech at St. Mary’s College, a professor of music there was being reprimanded and forced to take a diversity training course because he offended one of his students by asking those in his voice class to perform a rendition of “Old Man River.” Beth Dobkin, the Provost at St. Mary’s, has told the Contra Costa Times that the professor will undergo diversity training and had to apologize to his students for forcing them to perform such a racist song. Dobkin also said that the professor’s “future at the school is being discussed.” This, despite the fact that several other students in the class have written letters of support for the voice instructor claiming that the instructor had performed the song himself many times and wanted his students to have the opportunity to do so also.
But, in the upside down world of Catholic higher education, Catholic students and their families are not allowed to be offended when a pro-gay marriage proponent who has directly defied the authority of the bishop is honored. Only certain groups—including gays, lesbians, transgendered individuals, and racial minorities—are allowed to be offended. Catholics are never afforded such protected status.