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Wednesday, November 18, 2009

Bishops discuss authority over Catholic colleges

by Rachel Zoll

BALTIMORE — Fallout continues from the summer controversy over the University of Notre Dame awarding an honorary degree to President Barack Obama, who supports abortion rights.

The U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops went behind closed doors at their fall meeting Wednesday to discuss, among other issues, what action they should take to increase oversight of the nation's more than 200 Roman Catholic colleges and universities.

Chicago Cardinal Francis George, president of the bishops' conference, revealed this week that he had formed a task force charged with reviewing the issue. Its research included a look at what church law says about bishops' authority over the schools.

The Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities has planned a similar discussion of canon law and bishops' authority at the group's annual meeting, set to begin Jan. 30 in Washington.

"Can bishops just pull the plug on us? It's not that simple," said Richard Yanikoski, president of the Catholic college association. He attended a meeting of the bishops' education committee last Sunday that briefly touched on higher education. He expected the bishops' would more fully examine the issue in their executive session.

The decision by Notre Dame, the nation's flagship Catholic university, to honor Obama at its May commencement caused an uproar within the church and drew protests from around the country and on the school campus by anti-abortion groups.

More than 70 U.S. bishops spoke out against the university's decision, a remarkable reaction given that it is customary for only a local bishop to comment. Notre Dame said Obama was honored as an inspiring leader who broke a historic racial barrier as the nation's first African-American president — not for his positions on abortion or embryonic stem cell research.

Leaders of other Catholic schools worried that anger over Notre Dame's action would spill over to all colleges and cause long-standing damage to their relations with bishops... Read the whole article.

AtonementOnline

About Me

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Fr. Phillips is the founding pastor of Our Lady of the Atonement Catholic Church, the first Anglican Use parish, established on August 15, 1983. Not that there is any confusion, but he is on the left, shown in his younger, less gray-headed days.