Marymount Manhattan College, which had ties to the Archdiocese of New York, was formally dropped as a Catholic institution Thursday, because it intended to give Senator Hillary Clinton an honorary doctoral degree.
The college will no longer be listed in "The Official Catholic Directory," which identifies Catholic institutions.
"The decision to honor one of Congress's most outspoken and strident advocates of abortion rights was just the latest episode in a long history of secularization at Marymount Manhattan College," said Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society.
Reilly wrote to Edward Cardinal Egan of New York about the college, suggesting "immediate action to prevent scandal in the archdiocese." Reilly said the college's actions defied the "Catholics in Political Life" statement that was approved by the U.S. bishops in 2004.
Fania Tavarez, assistant to the vice-president for institutional advancement at the college, confirmed the ruling from the archdiocese. In a prepared statement, Tavarez defended the school as "an independent, non-sectarian, private liberal arts college.” She said students and staff are “very excited” to hear Clinton at the commencement exercises.
This is the fourth time since Pope John Paul II issued "Ex Corde Ecclesiae," the apostolic constitution on Catholic universities, that a bishop has declared a historically Catholic college or university to be no longer Catholic. The 1990 document gives local bishops the responsibility of determining whether colleges can be called "Catholic."
Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., was declared "no longer Catholic" by Egan in 2003, following a similar protest by the Cardinal Newman Society regarding New York’s Attorney General Elliott Spitzer.