- The Washington Times - Friday, April 15, 2011

What do the Catholic Church and Planned Parenthood have in common? Sounds like a joke, but there’s no clever answer. And there’s nothing funny about it.

Amid the debate over federal funding for Planned Parenthood, we’ve heard that the international contraceptives peddler is also the largest abortion provider in America. Its founding leaders have been accused of racial motivations to reduce the numbers of “unfit” Americans. And no, Planned Parenthood doesn’t provide mammograms.

So what two institutions could be more opposed in principle than Planned Parenthood and the world’s traditional leading defender of sexual purity, the Catholic Church?

A simple Web search turned up more than 150 instances of Catholic colleges publicly associating with Planned Parenthood. And those ties to the family planning outfit most likely are indicative of more numerous problems not touted publicly on the college websites.

As reported last week by The Washington Times (“Catholic Colleges Have Ties to Planned Parenthood,” Page 1, Thursday), the Web search was conducted by my organization, the Cardinal Newman Society, with the results posted on our website.

We have been reporting scandals of this sort for 18 years: Catholic colleges honoring pro-abortion politicians, hiring dissident theologians, presiding over campuses where the decadence is so obvious that Planned Parenthood parks its clinics just blocks away. At many Catholic colleges, the promise of formation outside the classroom is empty - and teaching inside the classroom can be dangerous to a student’s faith.

Not at all Catholic colleges, mind you. There are others that are both faithful and academically serious, recommended in our Newman Guide to Catholic colleges.

But the fact is that Catholic higher education has greatly secularized over the past 50 years and most Catholic colleges need a renewal of their Catholic identity. The Cardinal Newman Society reports information on college scandals to make the case for renewal and for the benefit of families that are unaware of the tragic secularization of once faithfully Catholic institutions such as Georgetown and DePaul universities and Boston College.

Too often parents and students are duped by such wayward Catholic colleges, which publish flashy brochures touting “values” and a “Catholic heritage.” Too often, the truth is that their campus environments and dissenting professors lead students away from the Catholic faith.

That is hypocrisy - the sort that Jesus condemned in the strongest words.

Not surprisingly, a few Catholic college leaders have tried to downplay the Planned Parenthood ties. A Georgetown spokesman, for instance, insists that the university “does not institutionally support entities whose primary mission is to counter Church teaching.”

But Georgetown employs the associate general counsel of the Planned Parenthood Federation of America, Zoe Segal-Reichlin, as an adjunct professor of law. The university’s website celebrates several student internships and fellowships with Planned Parenthood to promote “women’s reproductive rights.” And strangely, the University’s Kennedy Center of Ethics helps teach Chinese government officials about population and reproductive health policies in the United States, capped off with a site visit to Planned Parenthood.

Marquette University has dismissed complaints about its “Milwaukee Survival Guide” - which referred new law students to Planned Parenthood and the National Organization for Women - because the guide was produced more than seven years ago. That’s true, the guide has been around a while - and it apparently remained on the university’s website for seven years, until it was removed last week, following our report.

Critics describe some of the concerns in the report as relatively minor: conferences on non-offensive topics in partnership with Planned Parenthood, alumni publications celebrating graduates’ work with Planned Parenthood, etc.

But every instance, if one considers it from a Catholic perspective, is appalling given the destructive nature of Planned Parenthood’s operations. This is an organization that has significant responsibility for today’s decadent culture. This is an outfit that destroys tiny children under the gentle rubric of “family planning.”

Together, the more than 150 instances cited in the report indicate what has made Planned Parenthood so successful - a misguided sense that there’s something predominantly good about the organization, even when it does so much evil. Planned Parenthood enjoys admiration while independent abortion doctors are marginalized and even reviled.

Catholic colleges brush off concerns about their ties to Planned Parenthood even while taxpayer funding is threatened. The irony is gruesome.

Patrick J. Reilly is president of the Cardinal Newman Society, which works to strengthen Catholic identity in Catholic higher education.