Catholic Universities & UNICEF

, Malcolm A. Kline, Leave a comment

Six Catholic universities have United Nations Children’s Fund (UNICEF)chapters on their campuses despite the Vatican’s nine-year-old refusal to support the multilateral government agency.

Officials at the six Catholic universities with UNICEF chapters seemed mostly unaware of either UNICEF’s shift toward abortion advocacy or the Vatican’s disapproval of same. From spokesmen and women at the six—Boston College, Fordham, Georgetown, Loyola-Marymount-California, the University of St. Thomas (Texas), and Villanova—I got many who answered “They do?” and “It did?” when I asked whether UNICEF’s pro-choice stance and the papacy’s reaction to it caused any conflict on their own campuses.

To be sure, most of these Catholic institutions of higher learning support UNICEF with varying levels of energy. Most simply allow the taking of collections on campus. As perhaps might be expected of a university that prides itself on its School of Foreign Service, Georgetown most enthusiastically promotes the efforts of both UNICEF and its parent agency:

• The Jesuit University will host a UNICEF conference next year.

• Georgetown University also endorses a UN curriculum for use in Washington, D. C. public schools. (Cynics might argue this would give them a curriculum where otherwise none exists.)

The university has a pro-life group on campus and will not fund pro-choice groups. Nevertheless, convocation exercises on Hoya Hill generally feature an annual progression of pro-choice speakers. When the school lapsed in 2003 and invited a pro-life speaker who addressed the right to life issue in his speech, a Cardinal no less, a theology professor walked off the stage and 69 of his peers cosigned a letter of protest to the Dean.

Georgetown’s web site resembles a glossy church bulletin but evidence of the school’s religious orientation is harder to find on the campus itself. When we held our summer conference there last year, one of my non-Catholic co-workers came to me on the second day of the event and said, “Hey, I just realized that this is a Catholic School.”
I asked my friend—an acutely intelligent, observant guy—how he found out. “I saw a little plaque on one of the buildings,” he said.

Some of the schools with UNICEF chapters even downplay their Catholicism in their advertising:

• Try to find the word “Catholic” on the Loyola-Marymount web site. The Jesuit institution bills itself as a “comprehensive university.”

• Loyola-Marymount and the University of St. Thomas (“Classical, Catholic, Cosmopolitan”) do not even have pro-life groups listed on their roster of campus student organizations.

• On the BC website, I clicked about 16 times under about as many links and pages until I found the Catholic label.

• Fordham’s home page links to a story entitled “Laity Helps Jesuit education Meet Mission” but the only mention of the word Mass is as a modifier for the term ‘extinction’ in the title of an ecology story.

Malcolm A. Kline is the executive director of Accuracy in Academia.