By Erin Maguire, The BulletinThe Alumni Association at Northeast Catholic High School plans to honor pro-abortion state Supreme Court Justice Seamus McCaffery at its 80th annual Memorial Mass and Communion Breakfast Sunday.
Calling the tribute contradictory to Catholic teaching, some alumni will protest before the 8:30 a.m. Mass outside the Cathedral of Saints Peter and Paul. The Archdiocese of Philadelphia issued a statement yesterday denouncing the association’s decision to honor Justice McCaffery.
Edward J. White, alumni association president, said a committee chose to honor Justice McCaffery because “he serves as a role model for what he’s done in the city of Philadelphia and his country.”
Justice McCaffery would receive an award titled “Outstanding Achievement in the field of Jurisprudence” at the breakfast.
Alumnus John Stanton will distribute literature at Ss. Peter and Paul “regarding the disgrace on our school honoring this man.”
“Any Catholic Institution that honors someone that believes killing children is OK is a terrible contradiction; Mr. McCaffery is a bad example bringing shame on our beloved school,” he said.
Donna Farrell, director of communications for the Archdiocese of Philadelphia, issued a statement regarding the status of the situation as of press time. According to the statement the archdiocese learned earlier this week that the alumni association, which is operated independently of Northeast Catholic High School, planned to honor “an individual who does not conform to Church teaching on life issues.”
At that time, Joseph P. McFadden, auxiliary bishop of Philadelphia, “immediately” contacted the president of the alumni association.
The bishop wrote, “Expressing his disapproval of their award recipient and informing him that the administration [the Oblates of Saint Francis DeSales] of Northeast Catholic High School would not be attending the event.”
Ms. Farrell noted Bishop McFadden wrote a letter to the president of the alumni association March 24 where he said its intended honoree “is not aligned with the pro-life teachings that comprise the basic foundation of student education at Northeast Catholic and all of our Catholic schools.”
“While no disrespect is intended to the alumni association or to any individual, Northeast Catholic High School must remain true to its mission of upholding the teachings of the Catholic Church,” the statement concluded.
According to 2004 document “Catholics in Political Life” issued by the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”
Mr. McCaffery graduated from Cardinal Dougherty High School and LaSalle University before receiving his law degree from Temple University. He served in the United States Marine Corps, the U.S. Air Force Reserve and the Philadelphia Police Department. Mr. McCaffery is politically pro-abortion and was endorsed by Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice America during his 2007 campaign as a candidate for Supreme Court justice.
About 400 people are expected to attend the alumni breakfast. Some are boycotting the event due to Mr. McCaffery’s pro-abortion stance.
Mr. White said he had “no comment at all” regarding these issues. Alumni, on the other hand, had plenty to say.
“I’m not going to give any more money to the high school,” alumnus Michael Gallagher said. “When I graduated in 1955 abortion wasn’t even talked about then, but I’m sure the principal of the high school then wouldn’t have permitted anything like this — I’m so upset with this.”
Brian Mott, Class of 1988, said he is “not happy” with the association’s decision either. Mr. Mott sends his son to Northeast Catholic because he wanted him to have the good experience he had at the school, but this alumni action has left him “torn.”
“It gives the school a major slap in the face because according to the Catholic religion it goes against what they believe,” he said.
Ed Markowski, class of ‘56 representative for 30 years, usually sells tickets to the breakfast. This year, he sent an email to his classmates encouraging them to boycott the event with him. He said 15 responded saying they would not go.
“One is going because he thinks Justice McCaffery is a good man and a good judge,” he noted. “I can’t argue with that, but the fact that he’s pro-abortion makes him unqualified to get award from Northeast Catholic.”