Catholic University Alumni Reject McAuliffe

Commencement ceremony 2013  Graduation_13_705.NEF 135NC_D3 Ed Pfueller 5/17/13

Terry McAuliffe and I share something in common — both of us had the privilege of attending the Catholic University of America.  Not all of us got the same education out of that experience, so it would seem… and there are several CUA alumni who are none too happy about the reputation of Catholic University or the Catholic Church being silently dragged into the mud.  

The following is a press statement from CUA Alumni Against Terry McAuliffe — worth every word:

Increasingly outraged by Terry McAuliffe’s gubernatorial campaign, alumni of the Catholic University of America are denouncing McAuliffe’s use of his Alma Mater to promote his campaign.  The ad hoc group of alumni is speaking out in light of Terry McAuliffe’s support for abortion on-demand and Obamacare, which forces Catholics and Catholic institutions to pay for coverage of abortion inducing drugs.

“Terry repeatedly tells voters he is a practicing Catholic and graduate of The Catholic University of America, while at the same time his campaign attacks the Catholic Church and Her teachings,” said Mary Beth Style, M.S.W., who graduated a year after Mr. McAuliffe.  

“Terry McAuliffe attacks Ken Cuccinelli for his consistent views supporting the dignity of the human person and seeing Christ in each person,” continued Style.  “While Ken and his family have provided support to pregnant women in need through pregnancy resource centers, Terry’s involvement starts and stops at taking a check from abortion providers who are getting rich off the misery of women facing the greatest challenge of their lives.”

“What kind of practicing Catholic makes abortion and contraception the cornerstone of his campaign?  With Obamacare’s disastrous implementation, Virginians losing their affordable health insurance, and government bureaucrats making more decisions about our families’ lives, the last thing we need are Terry McAuliffe’s dangerous policies,” said Style.  Helen Donovan, JD, Catholic University’s Columbus School of Law, (‘93), added, “We need a governor who will protect Virginians against the encroachment of the federal government.  Obamacare is just one example and Terry McAuliffe has pledged to broaden its reach.  Ken Cuccinelli has a proven record as Attorney General in resisting job killing, liberty restricting regulations from the federal government.”

Catholic University Alumni against Terry McAuliffe include:

Stephen Anderson, (‘11)
Eric Becraft (’79, ’81)
Mary Pat Becraft (’81)
Joanne Merrifield (’83)
William Gribbin (‘65)
Helen Donovan (’93)
Mary Beth Style (’80)
Helen Seader (’52)
Philip Seader (’55)

  • Not everybody paid attention in class like we did, Shaun.

    • Of course, you went to that fancy-schmancy law school. I had to tool around Caldwell and McMahon… still very cool in their own right.

  • MD Russ

    “none to happy (sic)”

    Saying that “not all of us got the same education out of that experience” is an understatement.

    • One stinkin’ word out of the whole bunch… must be nice to be a critic. 🙂

      • MD Russ

        Sorry, but I when to a college as an undergrad where such an error on a formal paper would downgrade an A to an A-. I noticed that some of the alums are Slackers and Gen X people. I’m surprised that they didn’t write “nun 2 happie.” I’m not a critic of blog postings so much, but when you put out a public press release then someone should proof the damned thing.

        • No worries… I probably would have done the same (and do, from time to time). And the error was mine and mine alone.

          • MD Russ

            Nevermind. 🙂

  • DJRippert

    I am a graduate of the University of Virginia. Would you like me to write a nasty letter berating Ken Cuccinelli? Seriously, is there nothing else going on that deserves comment? How about the HOD races?

    • When the University of Virginia becomes the official university of the Catholic bishops in the United States, sure… line up and make your case known.

      • DJRippert

        When the Commonwealth of Virginia becomes a suburb of Vatican City I’ll give a rat’s ass about Catholic University’s alumni. Until then I’ll look to Thomas Jefferson’s Virginia Statute for Religious Freedom as my guide for secular matters.

        • Glad you care about Terry McAuliffe as much as we do. Until then, since you’re such a fan of allowing religious sects to sort out their own affairs… well… you know…

          • DJRippert

            I don’t care where either candidate went to college. Why would anyone care where the candidates went to college? How could that possibly be germane to this election? I’ve been a practicing Catholic since I was baptized as an infant in Virginia back in 1959. Of course, I’ve been a Virginian since I was born. I guess the second rate education I got at the University of Virginia convinced me that the United States government shouldn’t pass laws based on the beliefs of any particular religion. That goes back to that odd bird who founded UVA. You should look him up on Wikipedia some day. He had interesting ideas. Now – he was no graduate of Catholic University so you’ll have to be patient with his writing. But it’s probably worth the time to read it anyway.

            Given my lack of a degree from Catholic University let me ask you a quick question. Is Ken Cuccinelli opposed to capital punishment? Will he commute every sentence of capital punishment handed down while he is governor of Virginia?

            In case you need refreshing, let this public school boy help you with the position of the US Catholic Bishops on capital punishment:


          • Wait — I thought Catholic values didn’t matter to you? Why are you violating the Statute of Religious Freedom!!! OH NOES!!!

            …or maybe we can be grownups for about five seconds, realize that yes, CUA is a different school than most, Catholic values ought to be faithfully lived in the public square, the right to life is paramount in all of this… and Terry simply doesn’t believe what practicing Catholics believe — on that an a host of other matters?

            But nah… that would require someone to put their Catholicism above their religion of the left, Rippert. Far too much to ask people to put their personal faith over their political faith… as good Catholics are expected to do from time to time.

          • DJRippert

            One more time Monsignor Kenney – Will Ken Cuccinelli commute each and every death sentence handed down during his term as governor?

            The governor of Virginia really can’t stop a woman from having an abortion. Even the Texas effort to make abortions much harder was just struck down by the courts.

            However, the governor can absolutely end capital punishment during his term. He has the unequivocal right to commute death sentences to life in prison without parole. He doesn’t need the General Assembly’s permission, the courts can’t stop him.

            So, you believe that faith should trump law. Fine. The Catholic Church and the US Bishops have been very clear in opposing capital punishment in the United States on moral grounds.

            Will uber-Catholic Ken Cuccinelli end capital punishment during his term as governor?

            This is a very simple question that should be answered “yes” or “no”.

          • Did Kaine? Given his principled opposition… and his refusal to do so, Kaine set the precedent. The answer must be no (though I would strongly encourage Ken to do otherwise).

          • MD Russ


            What DJ is highlighting is the hypocritical dichotomy between conservatives and liberals when it comes to human life. A good conservative maintains that it is morally wrong to abort a fetus no matter what the medical or mental justifications for doing so but that putting to death an adult person convicted by an imperfect criminal justice system is just fine. A good liberal believes that aborting a viable fetus for the convenience of the mother and as a form of contraception is acceptable but that putting to death a serial murderer is morally wrong and a state-sanctioned killing.

            Neither conservatives nor liberals are “pro-life.” They both have blood on their hands. Regardless of which political position you hold, you are not following the teachings of the only perfect Catholic in human history–Jesus Christ.

          • midwestconservative

            Cuccinelli opposed the expansion of the Death Penalty. One of the few Republicans to do so. I’m sure that qualifies him as “pro-life”

          • MD Russ

            Close, but no cigar. Pro-life means that you oppose the death penalty in all circumstances with the same vigor with which you oppose abortion in all circumstances. Just for the record, I am not pro-life.

          • Doug Brown

            “Pro-life means that you oppose the death penalty in all circumstances with the same vigor with which you oppose abortion in all circumstances.”

            That’s simply not true. You must know that Catholic teaching , i.e., the Pro-Life position which Ken professes, is more nuanced than that.

          • MD Russ

            I am not going to engage you in an ecclesiastical debate here, citing Papal bulls and proceedings, but I am very aware of what the Catholic teaching is. The taking of human life, whether it be a fetus in the womb or a condemned prisoner, is wrong according to the Church. There is nothing nuanced about that and I challenge you to produce any Catholic teaching that supports the death penalty. The fact that KC opposes abortion in all circumstances but is willing to support the death penalty in certain circumstances is in no way nuanced–it is bare hypocrisy.

          • Doug Brown

            If you are aware of Catholic teaching on both issues then you know Ken does not hold any position that is in conflict with those teachings. Ken is one of the most thoughtful and reasonable public figures I have ever met, McAuliffe’s and his supporters’ attempts to demonize Catholics who simply accept the teachings of the Church on such issues is really despicable.

            If you need a philosophical foundation to understand why the Church has not ruled out the State’s right to resort to the death penalty, you can start with Augustine’s Just War Doctrine.

            You don’t get to pronounce what is or what isn’t Catholic Doctrine, nor does DJRippert, that is determined by another Being who you can come to know when you make the crossing from Left to Right. 🙂

            And next time, do me a favor and don’t disclaim any intention of getting into a ‘debate’ and then demand citations.

          • MD Russ

            Augustine’s Just War philosophy has nothing to do with the death penalty. It is like equating self-defense with intentional manslaughter. You are a fraud. Next time, do me a favor and don’t think that you are responding to an idiot. Buh-bye.

          • Doug Brown

            Excuse me your Holiness, I’ll await your next Bull posting where I’m sure you’ll be as ignorant and unfamiliar with the philosophical debate concerning Man’s use of violence against his fellow Man, and the sourcing of the Catechism citations above, as you are with just how reasonable Ken is on so many issues.

          • MD Russ

            Go in pieces, my son.

          • Doug Brown

            Funny, a little tasteless given the subject, but what the heck.

          • DJRippert

            Statement from the American Bishops:

            “We believe that in the conditions of contemporary American society, the legitimate purposes of punishment do not justify the imposition of the death penalty.”

            Catholic thinking changed on or about 1995.

          • Doug Brown

            “Not all moral issues have the same moral weight as abortion and euthanasia. For example, if a Catholic were to be at odds with the Holy Father on the application of capital punishment or on the decision to wage war, he would not for that reason be considered unworthy to present himself to receive Holy Communion. While the Church exhorts civil authorities to seek peace, not war, and to exercise discretion and mercy in imposing punishment on criminals, it may still be permissible to take up arms to repel an aggressor or to have recourse to capital punishment. There may be a legitimate diversity of opinion even among Catholics about waging war and applying the death penalty, but not however with regard to abortion and euthanasia.”

            -Cardinal Ratzinger in 2004
            and this which addresses your concerns directly:

            Catholic thinking changed, but not Catholic Doctrine. There’s a big difference between pronouncements on the times and the eternal Truth.

          • DJRippert

            You are quoting a college professor who says, “It is, I think, unfortunate that this prudential judgement was added to the Catechism.”. In other words, he doesn’t like what was added to the Catechism, he doesn’t think it should have been added to the Catechism but IT WAS added to the Catechism. In the opinion of this college professor the injunction against developed societies using the death penalty was prudential. In the opinion of Pope John Paul II it was not.

            The Catechism is a summary of doctrine. If it is in the Catechism it is doctrine (at least as far as I understand it). And it is doctrine whether a college professor thinks that various popes and the American College of Bishops are wrong or not.

          • Doug Brown

            First, don’t leave out the distinction that Cardinal Ratzinger made in 2004 between abortion and the death penalty, any one who honestly follows Catholic thinking on the topics immediately understands that it is dangerous to conflate the two issues and the relevant moral dilemmas involved which is what MD Russ is trying to do.

            Second, ” if not practically non-existent ” in reference to the modern penal system is a temporal state assigned to the system, it’s a man made institution. I’m fairly certain that neither JPII nor the Church was assigning it Church status, i.e., Christ founded, an eternal and infallible presence in the world.

            What that means is that it operates in the City of Man, subject to the operation of Human Free Will, i.e., any man made institution like the modern day penal system changes and is subject to a lot of screw-ups and failures and hence requires the individual to exercise that Free Will in judging whether ‘practically non-existence’ is practically true.

          • So does this mean you’re on the record for saying Ken should stop every abortion, too? D.J. Rippert… I had no idea your pro-life convictions ran so high!

          • DJRippert

            I guess government wasn’t on the course curriculum at Catholic University when you went there. The Governor of Virginia lacks the authority to stop every abortion. At best, he could try to persuade the General Assembly to pass a law banning abortion or making it very difficult to get an abortion. Then, he’d have to defend the law in court. Given that personhood bills failed in Missouri and Colorado and didn’t get past the state senate in Virginia I doubt Cuccinelli could get the bill passed. Given that the abortion restrictions in Texas have been found to b unconstitutional I doubt he could keep the law on the books if he did get it passed.

            This is where you RPV types go astray. You imagine that that the governor of Virginia has some mystical powers that he simply doesn’t have. Then you try to win an election based on these mystical powers. It just doesn’t work.

            Cuccinelli could stop capital punishment. That is a power that he does have. But he has no stated intention of exercising that power.

            Cuccinelli can’t stop abortion. That is a power he does not have. But he claims that he will somehow make this happen if he is elected.

            If I were the dictator of Virginia I’d ban abortion and capital punishment. I’d cancel every company-specific and industry-specific tax break. I’d dilute Dillon’s Rule. I’d do a lot of things if I were dictator of Virginia. But there is no dictator of Virginia so this is just daydreaming.

            If I were governor of Virginia I would commute every death sentence to life in prison without parole. Since there is no practical way for the governor to ban abortion I wouldn’t waste my time tilting at windmills.

          • So um, *ahem* where were you when Governor Kaine had this chance?

            Oh that’s right… silent.

          • DJRippert

            Here’s a shock for you – I didn’t vote for Kaine and I didn’t think he was a very good governor. I think he’s turning into a pretty good senator but he didn’t get anything done as governor and he botched the transportation bill. You pillory McAuliffe for not being a real Catholic based on his views of abortion but excuse Cuccinelli’s views on capital punishment. This is true despite the fact the the governor can actually do something about capital punishment. So, I think it’s obvious that you and the folks from Catholic University are less worried about being good Catholics and more worried about being good Republicans.

          • Funny thing about that, because the CCC doesn’t equate the taking of innocent life (abortion) with the imposition of the death penalty. That’s called proportionalism, and Pope John Paul II did an excellent job of smashing that up in Veritatis Splendor.

            Of course, my education afforded me the opportunity to both read and understand that document. Happily, your opportunity to do likewise is… well, could be right now, if you’re game:


          • DJRippert

            What is confusing about this:

            “We believe that in the conditions of contemporary American society, the legitimate purposes of punishment do not justify the imposition of the death penalty.”

            “2267 The traditional teaching of the Church does not exclude, presupposing full ascertainment of the identity and responsibility of the offender, recourse to the death penalty, when this is the only practicable way to defend the lives of human beings effectively against the aggressor.

            “If, instead, bloodless means are sufficient to defend against the aggressor and to protect the safety of persons, public authority should limit itself to such means, because they better correspond to the concrete conditions of the common good and are more in conformity to the dignity of the human person.

            “Today, in fact, given the means at the State’s disposal to effectively repress crime by rendering inoffensive the one who has committed it, without depriving him definitively of the possibility of redeeming himself, cases of absolute necessity for suppression of the offender ‘today … are very rare, if not practically non-existent.’[John Paul II, Evangelium vitae 56.]

          • Doug Brown

            1995. Conditions of contemporary American society are a temporal issue. As the means at the State’s disposal begin to crumble around us, Catholic Ken may have to keep that in mind, whereas Catholic Terry has been and will continue to be at the forefront of that crumbling State, as the State, just like Catholic Church, for Terry is nothing more than a vehicle for his personal and his friends’ benefit. Speaking of benefits, anybody got some visas for sale I can scalp at the Obama-McAuliffe rally?

          • Doug Brown

            Ken is not an uber-Catholic, he is simply a practicing Catholic.
            Do you frequently break into German?

          • DJRippert

            Only during Oktoberfest and when engaged in a mind numbing debate about religion and politics . Das ist verrucht! Pardon my spelling.

          • Doug Brown

            oh yeah, Munich ’22 right?

          • DJRippert

            Yes, I am 109 years old.

          • midwestconservative

            The “texas effort” is actually a mainstream law that is current in 11 other states including Virginia. What is more I hear an Appeals court upheld the law.
            I’m sorry your desire for unregulated/ unrestricted abortion is being hampered by people with morals.

          • DJRippert

            The US Supreme Court refused to hear an Oklahoma case on abortion. “The action lets stand an earlier decision by theOklahoma Supreme Court striking down the new state law as a violation of a woman’s constitutionally protected right to obtain an abortion.”.

            The Texas case has gone back and forth with a federal appeals court letting the stricter abortion rules stand. An emergency motion for the US Supreme Court to intervene has been filed by pro-abortion groups in Texas.

            A loss on abortion restrictions in OK with the matter still under debate in TX.

            Of course, even the Texas case doesn’t stop abortions – it just makes it harder to get one. That’s because the US Supreme Court has ruled that states can’t outlaw abortion. In Texas, the new law would at least temporarily close 14 of the state’s 35 abortion clinics – leaving 24 unaffected.


          • midwestconservative

            Oh you’re breaking my heart. Tell you what PP has plenty of money, if they’d stop spending it on candidates ( like the 2 million or so they’ve spent on this race) they’ll be able to upgrade those clinics in no time.

  • Alex70

    I’m not certain I discern that much of a mandate from your fellow alums, fellows. Do you think they could all fit in a Volkswagen Beetle?

    I wonder what Pope Francis might think of Mr. Cuccinelli.

    And I really, really, really wonder how prominent conservative Catholic thinkers—Princeton’s erudite Robert George, for instance–regard Pope Francis’s admonition that the Church needs to rein in its obsession with gays, abortion, and birth control (Mr. Cuccinelli’s stock-in-trade). There must have been some interesting conversations taking place in Princeton between Professor George and the leaders of the constellation of very traditional Catholic groups there that look to him for guidance.

    1) Pope Francis:

    2) Robert George:

    This would make for a series of fascinating posts. I’m genuinely curious.

    Best wishes,
    Alex Leidholdt

    • That obsession was not a sign that the Church needed to weaken it’s teaching on such matters. To the contrary, Pope Francis was insistent that such matters were vitally important to the Church… and settled matters, therefore no longer issues that the Church should continue to debate or discuss.

      In that sense, the “obsession” over abortion and homosexuality was aimed at both sides, but not in an effort to defuse or diminish Catholic teaching on either. Instead, Pope Francis’ emphasis will be turned more towards the Beatitudes… applying those teachings in the world today, an area where Catholics perhaps have forgotten our evangelical and missionary spirit in favor of institutionalized charity.

      Would be more than happy to expound further on this. Authentic Catholicism doesn’t fit well in the American liberal/conservative divide, to be sure.

      …and while I would not test the question as to how many CUA alumni could fit into a VW Bug, I do know that a series of punchbuggies (sans punchbacks) would be the order of the day. Besides that, discussing theology, 14th Street and Colonel Brooks… there’s not much there.

      • Alex70

        Thanks. I mean it when I say it’s fascinating to me. You know a lot about this issue, and I know next to nothing.

        I might politely and cautiously disagree, however, about the political implications. I sense a pretty serious political schism within the Church.

        From the Times story: “George instead is plunging deeper into partisan politics. Alarmed at signs that the Republican Party was moving away from cultural issues, he recently founded a new group called the American Principles Project, which aims to build a grass-roots movement around his ideas. ‘His new venture will make him a major political player,’ the conservative writer Fred Barnes predicted in The Weekly Standard.”

        And this, too: “Last spring, George was invited to address an audience that included many bishops at a conference in Washington. He told them with typical bluntness that they should stop talking so much about the many policy issues they have taken up in the name of social justice. They should concentrate their authority on ‘the moral social’ issues like abortion, embryonic stem-cell research and same-sex marriage, where, he argued, the natural law and Gospel principles were clear. To be sure, he said, he had no objections to bishops’ ‘making utter nuisances of themselves’ about poverty and injustice, like the Old Testament prophets, as long as they did not advocate specific remedies. They should stop lobbying for detailed economic policies like progressive tax rates, higher minimum wage and, presumably, the expansion of health care — ‘matters of public policy upon which Gospel principles by themselves do not resolve differences of opinion among reasonable and well-informed people of good will,’ as George put it.”

        I believe I see some pretty significant differences in Pope Francis’s (bless him) and Professor George’s doctrine, and they suggest to this perhaps naive observer the outlines of the political debate we are having today.

        Thanks for the education. I need to learn more. BTW–I like it when you’re a happy warrior; I’m less enamored of you when you’re a bomb thrower. For what it’s worth, you’re good at both.

        • I would much rather *be* the happy warrior. Unfortunately, the world needs both… and I find far too many people either too timid or too bought to throw bombs when necessary. Sometines, the emperor really does have no clothes!

          Professor George is, of course, American… and in the American press (who by and large publicized Pope Francis’ comments as political ones) we seem to have a very bad habit of referring back to our political religions when viewing all other faiths. What George is arguing — and I believe, correctly — is that there is a dangerous trend in the United States from modern secularism (a non-confessional tolerance of all faith traditons) to laicization (an open hostility of the state towards faith in the public square).

          What George on social morality and Francis on social justice are both saying is that we do not have to sacrifice one half of our Catholicism in order to authentically live the other half. Nor is there ever a need to de-emphasize one portion of Catholic teaching in order to re-emphasize another. There’s a great temptation, if you are pro-life and pro-marriage and Catholic, to buy into the idea that one must cave on issues regarding the preferential option for the poor, a living wage, etc. On the other side, if one is active in living out the Beatitudes and fighting for Catholic social justice, there is a great deal of pressure to give in on abortion, the dignity of human life, marriage, etc. Again, the political religious do their own form of proselytization.

          What I foresee is a Pope Francis that will recapture the missionary zeal of the Church, not through liturgy but through evangelization without sacrificing Catholic identity. You see a great deal of hostility from this Pope regarding institutionalized charity, specifically with regards to the Vatican Bank, otherwise known as the Institute for the Works of Religion. One also sees a great deal of attention paid to localism… the idea that individuals in their communities are responsible to themselves and to the Church to assist the poor, care for the sick, etc — not governments and not charitable organizations. Francis has been very careful to emphasize love of Christ very early in his pontificate (ultimately a completion of the pontificate of Pope Emeritus Benedict XVI) — but it’s leading somewhere. I firmly believe that we are going to find in this Jesuit pope from Argentina a very intense, personal and devoted touch in a world that could certainly use the Christian example… not dogmatic or rigid, but truly emphasizing what how Catholicism should be lived, not merely taught or considered in dark rooms or libraries.

          In any event, I could go on… my heart is really in this sort of work, not politics necessarily.

          • Alex70

            Thanks. You’ve given me a lot to think about. I appreciate the education. I’ll spend some time rereading your comment. BW,

          • Doug Brown

            Remember what Francis said that he was still a son of the Church, he was not disowning Catholic teaching on the issues you mentioned. It’s crucial you keep in mind he is a Jesuit. I did my undergraduate at Canisius and graduate work at Georgetown, and my sense of Francis is that he is more along the lines of a Father King than Drinan.


    • yak_disqus

      Yeah, Alex, that’s where all the great Catholic thinkers go to read and understand what the Holy Father’s statements: the New York Times. You don’t think they ever “spin” anything that comes out of the Vatican? A bit later, Pope Francis re-iterated his support for the dignity of human life and the unborn.
      On the other hand, what do you think of Mr. McAuliffe’s investment in the Caramadre investments — you know, betting on when terminally ill people would pass on and such? You are free to criticize Mr. Cuccinelli, but I personally find Mr. McAuliffe to be simply beyond the pale of an ethical defense, even for someone as intelligent as yourself.

      • Alex70

        It’s a bad election, my friend.

        By the way, you’ve got the wrong guy if you think I’m intelligent. A year or two at Catholic or at a Jesuit university might have made me less stupid, however. There are enormous gaps in my sad education.

        I’m still pondering Mr. K.’s generous tutorial.

        And I find much about Pope Francis to be inspiring.

        Have a nice day.

  • yak_disqus

    ‘ “Terry repeatedly tells voters he is a practicing Catholic and graduate of The Catholic University of America, while at the same time his campaign attacks the Catholic Church and Her teachings,” saidMary Beth Style, M.S.W., who graduated a year after Mr. McAuliffe. ‘
    Sickening, isn’t it?

  • WorriedinVA

    Catholics and Jews have no business ever voting for the current democratic party. It’s really shocking. Do they pay attention to the policies of this group? Wake up!

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