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Cardinal Newman Society Issues Statement on Golisano Donation to AMU

The Cardinal Newman Society has advised Ave Maria University to examine how it honors donors whose views on important Catholic issues are not entirely clear. The society, which publishes The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, issued a statement Tuesday in which it praised AMU for its Catholic mission and identity but raised concerns about the naming of an athletic building for philanthropist Thomas Golisano.

The statement says the society spoke with AMU and others, and noted that the university "has released a statement affirming that Mr. Golisano supports the university's Catholic mission."

Yet, the society added, "While Mr. Golisano may in fact support Catholic teaching, whether fully or in part, we could find no public statement from Mr. Golisano that has clearly disavowed what appears to have been his public "pro-choice" position."

AMU President Nick Healy told The Ave Herald Tuesday afternoon that he had not had an opportunity to read the Newman Society statement in detail and therefore had no immediate comment.

In response to other questions about the $4-million gift, Mr. Healy said that Mr. Golisano "has said publicly that he supports the mission of the university" and has "personally assured both me and Tom Monaghan that he is pro-life." He said that Mr. Golisano says he "was never pro-choice in the sense of supporting abortion rights" and that, "the only evidence for Mr. Golisano's alleged pro-choice position is [a] 1994 New York Times article" which Mr. Golisano said misquoted him. There was no pro-choice plank in the platform of Mr. Golisano's political party, Mr. Healy added.

Mr. Golisano ran three times for governor of New York as a candidate of the Independence Party, which says on its website that it takes no public position on abortion.

The Cardinal Newman Society said, "It is clear to us that Ave Maria University is fully committed to a genuine Catholic identity" and has no desire to violate the 2004 policy of U.S. bishops on Catholic honors for people who publicly oppose Catholic teaching. It called comparisons to Notre Dame's awarding of an honorary degree to President Obama "an exaggerated comparison, as the Notre Dame action was clearly much more serious with greater potential for scandal."

Nonetheless, the society added, "As long as there remains the perception and possibily the fact that Ave Maria University's athletic center is named for a publicly "pro-choice" individual, we fear a negative impact on a university that largely serves and employs faithful Catholics."

The statement concluded by saying that it continues to have a "strong relationship" with AMU, and "trusts the university will address this concern with a sincere reflection on its mission and will develop policies to appropriately address such situations in the future."

The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College lists Ave Maria University as one of just 21 colleges and universities in the United States that it recommends as authentic Catholic institutions of higher education.

Click here for the full text of the Newman Society's statement


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