Saint Mary’s College Embraces Controversy, Welcoming Pro-Abortion Speakers and Parting Ways with Core Pro-Life Teachings   

Jordan Estabrook - 02 Feb 2024
Guest post by Lydia Poe and SFLA Standing With You Fellow Katheryn Schneider

GUEST POST: A fundamental problem arises when professing Catholic authors twist Catholic doctrine to justify the pro-abortion agenda.  

The latest example is Saint Mary’s College (SMC), a historic all women’s Catholic college founded by the Sisters of the Holy Cross in 1844. Their school-sponsored events, notably the invitation of two pro-choice speakers within the past year, have been contrary to the teachings of the Catholic faith they claim to adhere to. 

In March 2023, Saint Mary’s hosted a talk titled “No One’s Going to Tell Me What Kind of Christian I Am: Religion and Reproductive Justice in South Bend, Indiana,” by April Lidinsky, professor of Women’s and Gender Studies at Indiana University South Bend, and Eli Williams, sociology doctoral candidate and gender studies training apprentice at the University of Notre Dame. 

As long-time abortion supporters, their talk attempted to paint abortion in a positive light and destigmatize what they called reproductive healthcare. They even blasphemed Mary, Mother of God, by implying she would be pro-choice since she was able to choose to be Jesus’ mother at the Annunciation.  

All of this at a Catholic institution specifically named after Our Lady. 

SMC’s administration promotes viewpoints contradicting church teachings on abortion, and they’re not afraid to do it. They do it out in the open, hosting and endorsing speakers like Lidinsky and Williams, sending a message to students that abortion is a complex, morally gray issue. However, the Catholic Church has never left space for interpretation when tackling abortion and the protection of the preborn. 

The Catechism of the Catholic Church clearly states:  

“Since the first century, the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every procured abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable. Direct abortion, that is to say, abortion willed either as an end or a means, is gravely contrary to the moral law…Life must be protected with the utmost care from the moment of conception: abortion and infanticide are abominable crimes (CCC 2271).”  

Abortion ends the life of a unique human person created by God. The Catholic church boldly states this is an unchangeable fact.  

As a Catholic institution, SMC has the moral obligation to uphold the sanctity of human life and support pregnant and parenting students. Instead, they’ve strayed from their core teachings. They’ve manipulated those teachings through pro-abortion speakers, indoctrinating students to believe abortion is necessary healthcare and an essential right for women. 

“When Catholic colleges such as Saint Mary’s continue to promote the lie that women need abortion to succeed, they are failing the very same young women they claim to support,” stated Benjamin Ice, SFLA Great Lakes regional coordinator. “By inviting ambiguous and confusing pro-abortion speakers to campus, they are actively working against their Catholic identity.” 

SMC should be at the forefront of protecting and promoting life. They should be increasing life-affirming education on fetal development and Title IX rights, as well as expanding resources for pregnant and parenting students on campus.  

That doesn’t seem to be their concern, and it doesn’t seem like they will be soon.  

Saint Mary’s College Center for the Study of Spirituality is set to host Emily Reimer-Barry from the University of San Diego this upcoming at 5 p.m., Wednesday, Feb. 7, in a presentation titled “Structural Change for Reproductive Justice: Insights from Catholic Feminism.” Reimer-Barry is a self-described Catholic moral theologian specializing in the theology of feminism, Catholic Social Teaching, and what she calls reproductive justice. Her definition of reproductive justice includes access to abortion according to her article on the Catholics for Choice website. 

She doesn’t stop there. In another article, Reimer-Barry claims that the pro-life viewpoint is supported only by a vocal minority of church members.  

She goes further than merely defending abortion, but attacking Catholic beliefs, explaining how the anti-abortion position defended by Catholics conflicts with Catholic Social Teachings. She writes: “When Catholic bishops support legal protections for the unborn, they unfairly undermine the moral agency of pregnant people.”  

Catherine O’Neill, SMC Class of 2020, spoke out against the lecture. 

“I could not be more disappointed in [SMC’s] decision to invite Dr. Reimer-Barry to come speak,” said O’Neill. “[Dr. Reimer-Barry’s] repeated offenses of the interpretation of the Catholic faith are despicable to say the least.” 

She continues by defending not only the Catholic faith but the life of the preborn. 

“Much like other questionable decisions Saint Mary’s has made in the past, inviting dissonant Catholic personalities to make their flawed arguments against the Catholic faith, Saint Mary’s is alluding that the tenets of the Catholic Church are open to discussion,” said O’Neill. “There are certain core beliefs that are not up for debate, one of the most crucial of these is [that] killing innocent human beings is a mortal sin.” 

A group of concerned Saint Mary’s students, alumnae, and South Bend community supporters will be peacefully protesting Emily Reimer-Barry’s lecture by praying the Rosary together.  

O’Neill will be there and encourages others to lean into their faith. 

“Saint Mary’s has started down the slippery slope of moral relativism that moves exponentially unless the faithful take a stand,” stated O’Neill. “The Rosary is a powerful community prayer that has strengthened groups of Catholics throughout history, and it seemed the best course of productive action.” 

We pray that this event will bring all students, faculty, staff, and alumni closer to Christ and the actual teachings of the church. Please join us at 4:30 p.m. EST on Wednesday, Feb. 7, in front of Le Mans Hall at Saint Mary’s College to remind Saint Mary’s administration what the Catechism says about abortion and what real Catholic support for women and children looks like. 

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