Home > Bold Faith Type > Catholic Ave Maria Law School Cozies Up with Anti-Union Foundation

Catholic Ave Maria Law School Cozies Up with Anti-Union Foundation

March 8, 2012, 1:37 pm | Posted by John Gehring

Ave Maria School of Law in Naples, Fla., founded with major financial backing from pizza magnate Tom Monaghan, has long been a destination for conservative faculty and students. But now it appears that even the Church’s long support for unions as central to protecting the dignity of work – a core pillar of Catholic social teaching – is taking a back seat to Ave Maria’s promotion of right-wing ideology.

According to a press release on Christian News Wire, the university has partnered with the virulently anti-union National Right to Work Legal Defense Foundation to establish a professorship of labor law. This is a bit like defense contractor Lockheed Martin partnering with the Quakers to announce a peace studies fellowship.

While the National Right to Work Defense Foundation and the National Right to Work Committee side with corporations that are increasingly making it harder on employees to join unions, the Catholic Church has stood boldly with unions since 1891 when Pope Leo XIII released Rerum Novarum – an encyclical that puts labor rights at the center of Catholic social teaching.  In their 1986 pastoral letter, Economic Justice for All, Catholic bishops wrote:

“The Church fully supports the right of workers to form unions or other associations to secure their rights to fair wages and working condition…No one may deny the right to organize without attacking human dignity itself.”

This is not some dusty, long-forgotten teaching. When Gov. Scott Walker and Republican lawmakers were busy hamstringing unions in Wisconsin, Milwaukee Archbishop Jerome Listecki released a public statement saying that “hard times do not nullify the moral obligation each of us has to respect the legitimate rights of workers.” The archbishop noted that it’s a  “mistake to marginalize or dismiss unions as impediments to economic growth.” And he went on to quote Pope Benedict XVI, who wrote in 2009 that “the promotion of workers’ associations that can defend (workers’) rights must … be honored today even more than in the past.” Other Catholic leaders like Rev. Bryan Massingale of Marquette University, a former president of the Catholic Theological Society of America, also challenged the governor.

Catholic bishops and conservative Catholic watchdog groups like the Cardinal Newman Society have not been shy about publicly challenging Catholic universities that invite pro-choice speakers to campus. The Catholic hierarchy has been far less vigilant when it comes to universities giving platforms to those who break from Church teaching on issues like the death penalty or economic justice.

Bishop Frank J. Dewane, whose diocese includes the Naples area, should now be asking law school officials some tough questions and reminding them that respect for unions is a fundamental Catholic teaching. Will he speak up and warn the school that they could be causing confusion among the Catholic faithful?

CORRECTION: An earlier version of this post conflated Ave Maria School of Law with Ave Maria University. The two are distinct institutions with separate governing boards. We regret the error

7 Responses to “Catholic Ave Maria Law School Cozies Up with Anti-Union Foundation”

  1. Leslie Miller says:

    So disheartening to see a Catholic institution side with the 1 percent vs. the 99 percent. That’s not what Jesus would do.

  2. Jim says:

    So now they are going to do what Tom Monaghan says? His pizza isn’t any good and now he wants to change how we think of work? Wow.

  3. Enedelia Obregon says:

    Pope Leo XIII must be spinning in his grave. Talk about being Cafeteria Catholics.

  4. Marsha West says:

    These are the people who deride what they call Cafeteria Catholicism. I’d say that we are all cafeteria catholics – we help ourselves to whatever dish suits our fancy and disdain the rest.

    But I wonder if any of those bishops out there are ready to exercise their magesterial leadership to correct this kind of false doctrine.

  5. Tom says:

    What! Could they be practicing (*exaggerated shudder*)… cafeteria Catholicism? THE HORROR!

  6. James says:

    So disheartening to see people confusing the First Amendment right to refrain with “anti-union.”

  7. Observer says:

    The US labor movement is debauched and headed for demise due to its own actions and inactions. Criminal prosecutions against local union leadership is routine because corruption is commonplace. Labor unions are not offering quality service to those it represents. If you want members, offer quality products/services to induce interest. Intelligent workers – and we are all workers – don’t want to be subjected to 19th century practices of reducing everything to the lowest common denominator.