Sex Scandals at Catholic Colleges 'No Surprise', Says Catholic Education Lobby
Gonzaga President Abused Boys; Lacrosse Players Hire Strippers
September 13, 2006
Manassas, VA, September 12, 2006 (LifeSiteNews.com) - Recent sex-related scandals at Catholic colleges and universities—including revelations that a former Gonzaga University president sexually abused teenage boys and women's lacrosse players at two Catholic institutions hired male strippers as part of their freshman initiation rituals—should come as no surprise to observers of Catholic higher education in recent decades.
"Catholic college educators once took seriously their responsibility to help young adults learn to be responsible, caring, moral people both in and out of the classroom—first by modeling appropriate behavior themselves," said Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society (CNS), a national organization to renew and strengthen Catholic identity in Catholic higher education. "But today on too many Catholic campuses, students have little guidance rooted in Catholic moral teaching. Instead of 'in loco parentis,' the new theme is 'livin' la vida loca.'"
On Friday, Oregon's Province of the Society of Jesus disclosed previously hidden claims of sex abuse—including two court settlements in the past year—by former Gonzaga University president Rev. John Leary, S.J., who died in 1993. Leary allegedly abused as many as 12 teenage boys, and he remained president of the Catholic university in Spokane, Washington, from 1961 to 1969 despite allegations that first surfaced in 1966. After Spokane police reportedly pressured Leary to leave town, he resigned his post citing health reasons, then was reassigned to a Jesuit high school in Boston and other posts in Massachusetts, Utah, Nevada and California.
The university has never disclosed the allegations or publicly encouraged students to come forward with complaints about Leary's activity; instead, Gonzaga named a scholarship for its late president. Meanwhile, homosexual-themed activities are on the rise at Gonzaga despite the Church's clear teaching against homosexual activity and Gonzaga president Rev. Robert Spitzer's tough stance against pro-abortion lectures and activities.
The disclosure of sex abuse and its cover-up are especially relevant to the annual CNS campaign to end Catholic campus productions of "The Vagina Monologues," a vulgar play that in one scene glorifies the sexual abuse of a teenage girl by a lesbian woman, describing it as the victim's "salvation" which raised her "into a kind of heaven." Gonzaga has not allowed the play on campus since 2002, yet continued to sponsor undergraduate and law-student clubs which presented the play off campus and sold tickets to students.
"We have continually opposed the 'Monologues' as a shameful insult to the victims of sexual abuse by priests, especially when the play is hosted by Catholic institutions," Reilly said. "Can college officials continue to allow this, when even Catholic higher education is tainted by the abuse scandals?"
Yesterday the New York Post reported that photos of women's lacrosse players from Manhattan College partying with a male stripper had been posted to the Internet, causing the college the cancel the team's fall season and impose community service hours on the offending students. The photos of a freshman initiation ritual show one woman "performing a lap dance on what appears to be a young man" and another "grinding with the male stripper," according to the Post. Manhattan College is a Catholic school in Riverdale, New York, founded by the Christian Brothers.
Just last month, the Catholic University of America in Washington, D.C., took less stringent action against its women's lacrosse team for a similar event featuring a male stripper last spring. The university forfeited three games from last season and placed the team on probation for the 2006-2007 school year.
Since 1993, CNS has repeatedly complained about Catholic campus scandals including dissident theologians, faculty engaged in pro-abortion and pro-contraception advocacy, pro-abortion and homosexual student clubs, drag shows, Notre Dame's queer film festival, "queer studies" courses, condom distribution, lectures by pro-abortion leaders, rampant sexual activity in campus residence halls, and "sex columns" in campus newspapers.
Yesterday's "issue of Fairfield University's campus newspaper features a column with a photo of condoms and the message, 'Don't be a fool, wrap your (or his) tool,'" Reilly said. "If this is faithful Catholic education, the Pope must be Dr. Ruth."
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