I was angry, but not as angry as I should have been. I was kind of curious, too: What would she say? How could the speaker justify her actions? How could my Catholic university justify its actions?”
I sat in the classroom listening to the woman from Planned Parenthood and wondered again why my Catholic university had allowed this on campus.
The woman’s smile never broke as she told us of racist tendencies held by rich, white people. These tendencies held minorities down and increased child abuse by forcing poor, minority women to deliver their unwanted pregnancies. She told us how, by forcing minorities to give birth, we were continuing the cycle of poverty by denying access to education and employment. She told us how pro-life groups don’t care about a child once it’s born and turn their backs on single postpartum mothers and others in tough circumstances.
She told us how rich, white people have expensive doctors to take care of problems, how most of us wouldn’t have to go to Planned Parenthood because our families could afford expensive medical care. However, if we were afraid to go to our families, we would always be welcomed at Planned Parenthood, and, what was better, no one would ever know! Besides, Planned Parenthood offered so many good services, not just abortion.
I sat on that hard, wooden chair in a classroom with the Crucifix on the wall behind the woman, where she couldn’t see it, and I wondered why this lecture had been mandatory. Yes, I was curious, but I’d rather not have been there. Even back then, although not nearly as strong in my beliefs as I am now, I was pro-life. But I also left the lecture thinking Planned Parenthood was a friendly place I could go for birth control if a friend or I needed it. I didn’t want to go, but I wasn’t sure where else someone would go in a pinch.
It seemed likely that that “pinch” would come on my Catholic campus. It wasn’t just the invitation to this particular speaker that screamed anti-Catholic values. The whole culture of the college, where excessive drinking, rampant drug use, and decision-impaired hooking up were expected most nights of the week, was corrupt with strong anti-Catholicism.
My college wasn’t one of the big name, headline making Catholic colleges. It wasn’t Notre Dame with its repeated showings of The Vagina Monologues or its invitations to pro-choice politicians climaxing with the invitation extended to Barak Obama to give the commencement speech and receive an honorary degree.
It wasn’t Georgetown with its many professors who work for Planned Parenthood, write papers promoting physician assisted suicide, and legally defend the right to die – and to kill. It wasn’t Georgetown with its benefits for same-sex partners of faculty, gay pride parades, distribution of condoms and pro-abortion clubs on campus. It wasn’t Georgetown denying symbols of Christianity to welcome in Obama.
My Catholic college was a small, under-the-radar institution. I didn’t have to do much to get in. I didn’t have to do much to stay. I wasn’t challenged academically, and I certainly wasn’t challenged spiritually.
I shouldn’t have been surprised that my Catholic university had invited Planned Parenthood to speak or that it demanded that we attend the lecture. I should have stood up more and demanded the college change its policies.
It is now too late for me to stand up to that particular occurrence, and, as the time to drop my oldest son off for his freshman year loomed nearer, memories and stories of the anti-Catholic college culture became more vivid. I realized I could not change my experience, but I could help my son stand up if the opportunity appeared before him. I could hope he was a better person than I had been.
Granted, he hadn’t chosen a Catholic college. I couldn’t blame him. Most truly Catholic colleges are liberal arts based, and he is planning to major in chemical engineering. He’d need a strong science and technology institution to do that. The only truly Catholic college currently capable of meeting that need is the University of Dallas. I loved the school, but it was too far from home, and so I sent him off with solid academic scholarships to a private college with an outstanding reputation for academic excellence, job placement, and liberal policies.
Knowing the challenges my Catholic faith faced 20 years ago, witnessing the increasing but unrecognized loss of values in America over the past two decades, and mourning the loss of faith many friends’ children have experienced after only a year away from home mandates that we consider and act on the best ways to ensure our children do not lose faith in college.
We are called to be in the world, not of the world. Sending our children off to college puts them very much in the world. Be vigilant. Be prayerful. Be faithful.
I’d love to hear your comments. What was college like for you? For your children? How was your faith affected? As always, thank you for sharing, following, and commenting!