Washington D.C., Jun 16, 2010 / 07:01 am
Incoming Catholic University of America (CUA) president John H. Garvey has defended the freedom of Catholic adoption agencies to refuse to place children with same-sex couples. However, he also holds that the Pledge of Allegiance could be viewed as unconstitutional and may violate Vatican II’s Declaration on Religious Freedom.
Garvey, presently the Dean of Boston College Law School, made his comments on the Pledge in the Spring / Summer 2007 issue of BC Law Magazine. The issue featured a symposium on the late Fr. Robert Drinan, S.J., a Georgetown University law professor and Democratic U.S. Congressman.
In his essay on Drinan, Dean Garvey praised the priest’s dedication to religious freedom. Drinan suggested that asking schoolchildren to recite the Pledge of Allegiance, with its reference to “one nation under God,” might be inconsistent with the First Amendment of the U.S. Constitution.
The priest also thought requiring recitation of the Pledge could violate the Second Vatican Council’s Declaration on Religious Freedom, Dignitatis Humanae, which according to Drinan “forbade any discrimination against those who are not persons of faith.”
Garvey said that his own work in law “has led me to share Fr. Drinan’s view in that regard.”
The phrase “under God” was officially added to the U.S. Pledge of Allegiance in the 1950s after a campaign initiated by the Knights of Columbus, the country’s largest Catholic fraternal charitable organization. The Knights have supported CUA for more than a century and have donated millions of dollars to the school.
Defender of Catholic religious freedom
While Garvey’s opinion of the Pledge breaks from a view popular among U.S. Catholics, he has reportedly faced hurdles because of his faith. The Eagleionline, a student-run paper at Boston College Law School, says that Garvey’s nomination for the deanship of Notre Dame Law School was vetoed by “a vocal minority of faculty” because he was “too Catholic, too conservative, and too elitist.”