The church finds itself mired in controversy lately, and Catholic colleges and universities are seemingly not exempt from the mess. Inside Higher Ed takes a look at a few Catholic schools where questions of Catholic identity, access to health care, and other emotive issues are causing discord:
Who could have guessed that the big debate on Roman Catholic campuses in 2012 would be over contraception?
For years, Catholic colleges have endured periodic debates over speakers who favor abortion rights. But despite Catholic teachings forbidding the use of birth control, contraception has hardly been on the table in a public way -- until this year.
Fueled by the debate over a new rule requiring employers, including religious colleges, to offer insurance coverage for birth control, campus controversies gained national attention. Among them are a decision at Xavier University in Cincinnati to deny insurance coverage previously offered to faculty members, and a faculty revolt at John Carroll University in Cleveland, where faculty members urged the college president to stand up to the bishops orchestrating opposition to the policy.
At the same time, perennially contentious issues were flaring, gaining new relevance (and airtime) from the contraception debate. Anna Maria College, a small Catholic college in Massachusetts, rescinded its offer of an honorary degree and a keynote commencement speech to Victoria Kennedy, widow of Senator Ted Kennedy, after the local bishop objected to Victoria Kennedy’s support for gay marriage and criticism of the church for denying communion to politicians who favor of abortion rights. And at the University of Notre Dame, where the outcry over another commencement speech three years ago -- President Obama’s -- still lingers, faculty are pushing the administrators to do more on gay rights.
It all could make you wonder: What’s happening to Catholic colleges these days?
For many, the answer is “nothing new.” Questions about whether Catholic colleges are Catholic enough have raged since at least the late 1960s, when a group of college presidents, led by the Rev. Theodore Hesburgh of Notre Dame, issued a seminal statement calling for "autonomy and academic freedom in the face of authority of whatever kind, lay or clerical," for Catholic universities. In fact, relations between colleges and the church are better now than they have been for decades, said Michael Galligan-Stierle, president of the Association of Catholic Colleges and Universities.
Read the full article here.