REPORT CARD: Notre Dame Trustee Supported Pro-Abortion PAC; New Religious Liberty Center at CUA; and more…

New Notre Dame trustee donated to pro-abortion PAC

Dorene Dominguez, a real estate developer and part-owner of the Sacramento Kings, was elected to the University of Notre Dame’s board of trustees at the board’s spring meeting last week, according to the university.

While much of her professional and personal story is exemplary, her $10,000 donation in 2014 to Women Vote!, a PAC tied to Emily’s List which works solely to elect pro-abortion candidates for elected office, raises serious doubts about her fitness and ability to maintain the now-shaky Catholic identity of Notre Dame.

A prior trustee, Roxanne Martino, resigned from the Notre Dame board in 2011 after The Cardinal Newman Society revealed her donations to pro-abortion PACs. But the university never acknowledged a mistake and claimed that Martino was unaware of the political agenda of “organizations that characterize themselves as pro-choice.”

Bill Dempsey, the president of the Sycamore Trust, was dismayed by the university’s apparent lack of concern.

“The university cannot even bring itself to concede that Emily’s List and the Illinois State Personal Pac are pro-choice,” he told the National Catholic Register. “The university says these groups ‘characterize themselves as pro-choice,’ as in ‘he says he is Christian.’ Is the suggestion that Ms. Martino just did not believe them?”

Still, the incident caused public embarrassment to Notre Dame… so why wasn’t Dominguez carefully vetted?

Catholic U. law school opens new center for religious liberty

The Catholic University of America’s Columbus School of Law in Washington, D.C., has established a new Center for Religious Liberty to educate students about protecting the fundamental right to religious freedom, according to the Washington Examiner.

The center will be led by CUA law school professor and Becket Fund Senior Counsel Mark Rienzi, who said at the inaugural event that addressing the legal questions related to religious liberty helps answer “how we deal with religious differences in a pluralistic society” and “how we learn to live together in light of our differences.”

In recent years, courts have seen an increase in the number of religious liberty cases, after the conscience rights of individuals or organizations have been ignored or trampled on. These include the plethora of cases against the “HHS Mandate” and those filed by Christian business owners seeking the right to live out their faith.

Education Dept. to relax rules restricting aid to faith-based institutions

In light of last year’s Supreme Court decision which ruled that states cannot automatically exclude aid to religious groups in certain situations, the federal Department of Education under President Donald Trump has announced its intention to change the rules restricting religious institutions from receiving federal aid, according to The Hill.

The department said it plans to review the current restrictions placed on faith-based institutions “in order to be consistent with current law and to reduce or eliminate unnecessary burdens and restrictions on religious entities and activities.”

The change could be an opportunity for more Catholic schools and colleges to have access to federal funding from the Education Department.

Betsy Devos receives standing ovation at Ave Maria U.

Despite media attempts to focus on a small number of critics, U.S. Secretary of Education Betsy DeVos received a standing ovation after delivering the commencement address at Ave Maria University’s graduation ceremony, reports WFAA News.

In her speech, DeVos emphasized the importance of service to God, country and neighbor and spoke of Jesus Christ, Pope Saint John Paul II and Mother Teresa.

Recalling the words of Pope Benedict XVI, DeVos said, “The world promises you comfort. But you were not made for comfort. You were made for greatness.”

In the end, she said that service “is ultimately about humbly choosing to see the face of Christ in your neighbor and recognizing and addressing their needs.”

Ruse: Faculty cutbacks good for Catholic U.

Not surprisingly, some professors are complaining about faculty cutbacks at The Catholic University of America.

But columnist Austin Ruse argues the process is healthy, and it was ratified by the Academic Senate by a vote of 35-8. Moreover, it’s one more sign of the end of “Curranism” at the University, referring to dissidents like Father Charles Curran who held sway at the bishops’ university a few decades ago.

“The current debate at CUA is as much about Catholic identity, and about Curranism, as it is about budgets and workload,” Ruse writes. “A few of the Curran generation are still around and are resisting the changes brought to campus. Blessedly, though, their days are numbered, and Catholic University of America, with enlightened leadership and young orthodox faculty, will finally put Curranism away and complete the restoration of authentic Catholic education….”

The University’s “Academic Renewal” plan calls for restructuring its teaching guidelines as well as combining some of its programs and will, as a result, cut the number of faculty by 9 percent, according to WAMU.

Because the plan calls for professors to teach three classes rather than one or two each semester, fewer teachers will be necessary and cuts will be forthcoming.

“We targeted closing 35 positions, and we’re almost there,” Provost Andrew Abela said. “And our goal is that by the end of the process, we’ll get all 35 leaving voluntarily.”

The intention, Abela says, is to strengthen one-on-one communication between students and faculty.

“The ‘Academic Renewal’ project specifically is designed to get more people to realize the strong research scholarship that is happening at Catholic University and why that matters to students; why it is a better thing as an undergraduate student to be taught by an active scholar; how you can get so much more out of that [relationship],” Abela says.

Identity politics at Saint Mary’s College

A student at St. Mary’s College of California wrote for First Things, arguing that the college’s emphasis on identity politics is causing some students to turn to the “alt-right” and “unwittingly creating the male students it most fears.”

Kate Arenchild calls it the “darkest secrets of St. Mary’s,” but the college is probably not alone.

After relaying a conversation she overheard between two professors over concerns about student essays advocating radical positions and eugenics, Arenchild says she believes that at least one cause is that “the dominant message on campus is that maleness is inherently oppressive and must be resisted,” sports are a manifestation of ‘toxic masculinity,” and “anyone who expresses discomfort with these messages is guilty of ‘preserving the patriarchy.’”

Progressive identity politics and the alt-right are essentially two sides of the same coin, she argues, with both “champion(ing) gender and race as an individual’s defining features.” She complains that St. Mary’s is not a place where meaningful debate or dialogue can take place, because all disagreement is viewed as an attack.

But there is hope.

“Ironically, the school founded by the Lasallian Christian Brothers in 1863 as an all-male college is now leaving my male peers without a place,” she wrote. “But students seeking to escape the identity idolatry of the alt-right and progressivism need only look up. Literally. Above every doorway at St. Mary’s hangs a crucifix, a constant reminder that all the oppression, shame, and guilt of the world have been laid upon one man already.”

Wolf at the door of Ontario’s Catholic education

John Kostoff, executive director of the Ontario Catholic Supervisory Officers’ Association, writes in the Catholic Register that “the wolf is at the door” of Catholic education in Ontario, with the call for the abolishment of public funding of Catholic schools growing ever more intense.

Many arguments are being used against Catholic schools, including the claim that having both a public school system and a Catholic school system is redundant and that just one system would save money or consolidate facilities.

But the mission of Catholic schools is not the same as secular schools. “Catholic schools educate the whole student. Spirituality is just as important as academic, physical, social and artistic dimensions of development,” Kostoff writes. “Catholic education is predicated on a recognition that students have an intrinsic spiritual component that must be nurtured as every student is a child of God.”

He warns “Catholic parents and supporters, priest, students and all in the Catholic community” to not be complacent, because “the wolf is at the door.”

And it is a very well-financed, determined, and organized wolf.

St. Ambrose University will open Muslim prayer space

St. Ambrose University in Davenport, Iowa, will be the latest Catholic college to establish a gender-segregated prayer space for Muslim students, reports WVIK.

The university’s Saudi Student Association worked with other students to design a space which features sinks for ritual foot-washing and separate areas for male and female worshippers.

It’s more than a little ironic that many of the same people calling for Catholic colleges to create single-sex bathrooms are also calling on Catholic colleges to create gender-segregated Muslim prayer rooms.

Seattle U. removes name of archbishop from coliseum

Seattle University’s board of trustees recently approved renaming its athletics complex and removing late Archbishop Thomas Connolly’s name, because of his apparent failure to act against a known pedophile priest in the 1960s, according to the Seattle Times.

The complex had been named after Archbishop Connolly since 1969.

Fr. Stephen Sundborg, president of the university, said he sought to change the name after reading a Seattle Times piece in 2016, about how a priest who had been accused of sexual abuse had been moved from parish to parish during Archbishop Connolly’s tenure.

Archbishop Connolly died in 1991.

Student: Marquette Catholic ‘only in name’

After reporting that Marquette University will offer sexuality and gender studies courses this fall that celebrate “the queer self” and criticize “toxic masculinity,” the president of the university College Republicans Zachary Petrizzo told The College Fix that the Jesuit institution is now Catholic “only in name.”

Courses were introduced by Marquette’s Center for Gender and Sexualities Studies such as “Introduction to Gender and Sexualities Studies,” “Masculinities,” and “The Queer Self: Narrative Explorations of Intersectional Identity.”

The “Queer Self” flyer includes a headline: “What’s Zir Story?” Professor Ed de St. Aubin, a psychology professor who teaches “The Queer Self,” said these courses do not violate Marquette’s Catholic identity.

“We are not a seminary,” he said. “We are a University with a Catholic and Jesuit foundation. The courses I teach are science based and it would be wrong to NOT offer these courses to our students.”

Marquette also allowed LGBT identifying students to celebrate Ash Wednesday Mass with “Glitter Ashes,” according to The College Fix.

I don’t recall the passage of the Bible that says, “Remember, Zir, you are glitter and to glitter you will return.”

Boston College rescinds Bill Cosby’s honorary degree

In light of his conviction on sexual assault, Boston College rescinded the honorary degree it gave comedian Bill Cosby more than two decades ago, reports The Boston Globe.

This is the first time the Jesuit university has revoked an honorary degree.

Few, if any, would have seen Cosby’s downfall coming back then, but it does serve as a reminder for Catholic colleges to be very selective about whom they honor.

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