Bishop Bernard Harrington of Winona issued a statement, announcing that the U.S. bishops have decided that Catholic communities and institutions should not grant awards to or bestow honors on those who do not adhere to Catholic Church teaching, such as those who support abortion..- A Catholic university, located in the Diocese of Winona, issued a statement, declaring that it is free to choose who it will honor, regardless of the local bishop’s recent statement to the contrary, reported the Winona Daily News.
In response, the president of St. Mary’s University, Br. Louis DeThomasis, felt it was necessary to clarify the relationship between the university and the diocese.
The diocese doesn't own or control Saint Mary's University; rather, it is sponsored by the De La Salle Christian Brothers, Br. DeThomasis said.
He explained that the university’s board of trustees, not the diocese, determines who will receive university honors and recognitions.
Honorees are selected “from all walks of life and all faiths who merit recognition for deeds and accomplishments that manifest traits consistent with our identity and mission," he said.
Though the bishop is a member of the board, he is just one of 36 trustees, DeThomasis underlined.
Despite the university’s status as an institution independent of the diocese, DeThomasis said Saint Mary's is committed to teaching “the values and doctrines of the Roman Catholic Church.”
"Of course, we are a Roman Catholic institution of higher learning and we have to listen to not only the bishop of Winona, but to all the bishops of the U.S.," DeThomasis said.