Patrick J. Reilly is president and founder of The Cardinal Newman Society, which promotes and defends faithful Catholic education. He also teaches at Aquinas Learning, a classical Catholic homeschool program led by his wife Rosario. They have five children.
As the 116th Congress began in January, the Association of Jesuit Colleges and Universities (AJCU) trumpeted the surprising fact that more than 10 percent of the U.S. Congress—55 of 535 members in the House and Senate—graduated from American Jesuit institutions.
But in their widely reported press release, the Jesuit educators also displayed a callous disregard for the moral formation of these graduates, most of whom actively work against the Church on today’s most important human rights issue: the right to life.
Upon reading news reports about the Jesuit alumni in Congress, my immediate question on Twitter (@NewmanSocPres) was almost reflexive: “Are they pro-life?”
I don’t really expect them to be, given the direction of Jesuit higher education and the many pro-abortion scandals on their campuses, including the recent lecture by an abortionist touting the Christian virtue of his practice at Georgetown University. But of what value is Catholic education if its graduates are not formed well in faith and morals, the most basic of which is respect for life? Could we at least expect that from highly secularized but officially Catholic colleges?
Moreover, it seems strange that even the most faithful Catholic news media didn’t evaluate the voting records of these alumni before touting the 10 percent-in-Congress statistic as—it probably seemed to most readers—good news for Catholics and a reason to attend Jesuit colleges.
It’s not good news! And it’s yet another piece of evidence that these colleges are having a detrimental impact on society instead of advancing Catholic thought and culture.
Pro-abortion voting records
I reviewed the voting records of the 55 Jesuit-educated senators and representatives using the pro-life scorecard published by National Right to Life (NRLC). If we combine NRLC scores for the 115th Congress (2017-2018) and the 114th Congress (2015-2016) for the 47 Jesuit college alumni who voted in one or both of those years, then we find that only eight of them voted pro-life 100 percent of the time. (God bless them!)
On the other hand, 36 of the alumni had NRLC scores of zero. That means that they voted 100 percent of the time against pro-life objectives.
Three others had mixed records:
Sen. Lisa Murkowski of Alaska managed to get a 44 percent pro-life rating, largely because she voted to confirm Neil Gorsuch to the Supreme Court. But Murkowski voted against the Pain-Capable Unborn Child Protection Act (prohibiting abortions before 20 weeks of gestation) and supported funding for Planned Parenthood.
Sen. Robert Casey of Pennsylvania scored just 18 percent. He supported the 20-week ban, but he repeatedly voted for Planned Parenthood funding.
Congressman Henry Cuellar of Texas had a mixed record of 43 percent. He claims to be pro-life but opposed efforts to reduce funding to Planned Parenthood.
Seven of the alumni are new to the House of Representatives and had no voting record in the last two Congressional sessions. But according to statements made during their campaigns, it appears that five strongly support legalized abortion and only two are pro-life:
Gil Cisneros (California): As a candidate, Cisneros strongly defended “women’s right to choose” and funding for Planned Parenthood.
Greg Pence (Indiana): The Catholic brother of Vice President Mike Pence ran for Congress on a pro-life platform.
Mikie Sherrill (New Jersey): Endorsed by the abortion lobby NARAL, Sherrill said she was “proud to stand with NARAL and the work they do to protect the rights of women.”
Xochitl Torres Small (New Mexico): The former Planned Parenthood employee supports funding for abortion and even opposes limits on late-term abortions.
Greg Stanton (Arizona): While mayor of Phoenix, Stanton urged Congress to fund Planned Parenthood and co-chaired a fundraiser for Planned Parenthood Advocates of Arizona.
Bryan Steil (Wisconsin): The pro-life candidate was endorsed by Wisconsin Right to Life.
Lori Trahan (Massachusetts): Candidate Trahan vowed to fight “bans on abortion, bans on private and public insurance coverage of abortion, and the frequent attempts to regulate abortion providers out of existence.”
These campaign positions were upheld last month, when the U.S. House voted to overturn President Trump’s ban on foreign aid to pro-abortion organizations. Only Pence and Steil voted against it, while the other five Jesuit college alumni who are new to Congress voted for it.
Delegate Stacey Plaskett, another of the Jesuit college alumni, is a nonvoting House member from the Virgin Islands and has no voting record. But last year, Plaskett made a commitment to NARAL to fight to keep abortion legal across the United States.
The final tally: only 10 of the 55 Jesuit college alumni are clearly pro-life, 42 are strongly pro-abortion, and three have mixed records that are unworthy of anyone who had a Catholic education.
If the Jesuits think that their 10 percent representation in Congress is so significant as to warrant public celebration, then why are they not ashamed that 82 percent of those alumni oppose the Church on such important issues as abortion and taxpayer funding for Planned Parenthood?
Or to put it another way: Why does secular prestige appear to be more important to the Jesuit colleges than the slaughter of innocent babies?
Below is the tally for the Jesuit college alumni, with details from the AJCU:
Sen. John Barrasso (WY) – NRLC rating 100
B.A. Georgetown U. (1974), M.D. Georgetown U. (1978)
Sen. Robert P. Casey, Jr. (PA) – NRLC rating 18
B.A. Coll. of the Holy Cross (1982)
Sen. Richard J. Durbin (IL) – NRLC rating 0
B.S.F.S. Georgetown U. (1966), J.D. Georgetown U. (1969)
Sen. Mazie Hirono (HI) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Georgetown U. (1978)
Sen. Patrick J. Leahy (VT) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Georgetown U. (1964)
Sen. Catherine Cortez Masto (NV) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Gonzaga U. (1990)
Sen. Edward J. Markey (MA) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Boston Coll. (1968), J.D. Boston Coll. (1972)
Sen. Robert Menendez (NJ) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Saint Peter’s U. (1976)
Sen. Lisa Murkowski (AK) – NRLC rating 44
B.A. Georgetown U. (1980)
Sen. Gary Peters (MI) – NRLC rating 0
M.B.A. U. of Detroit Mercy (1984)
Sen. Dan Sullivan (AK) – NRLC rating 100
J.D.-M.S.F.S. Georgetown U. (1993)
Sen. Chris Van Hollen, Jr. (MD) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Georgetown U. (1990)
Rep. Vern Buchanan (FL) – NRLC rating 100
M.B.A. U. of Detroit Mercy (1986)
Rep. David Cicilline (RI) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Georgetown U. (1986)
Rep. Gil Cisneros (CA) – elected 2018
M.B.A. Regis U. (2002)
Rep. Henry Cuellar (TX) – NRLC rating 43
B.S.F.S. Georgetown U. (1978)
Rep. Rosa L. DeLauro (CT) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Marymount Coll. (now part of Fordham U.) (1964)
Rep. Mark DeSaulnier (CA) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Coll. of the Holy Cross (1974)
Rep. Debbie Dingell (MI) – NRLC rating 0
B.S.F.S. Georgetown U. (1975), M.A.L.S. Georgetown U. (1998)
Rep. Jeff Fortenberry (NE) – NRLC rating 100
M.P.P. Georgetown U. (1986)
Rep. Lois Frankel (FL) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Georgetown U. (1973)
Rep. Mike Gallagher (WI) – NRLC rating 100
M.A. Georgetown U. (2012 & 2013), Ph.D. Georgetown U. (2015)
Rep. Paul Gosar (AZ) – NRLC rating 100
B.S. Creighton U. (1981), D.D.S. Creighton U. (1985)
Rep. Trey Hollingsworth (IN) – NRLC rating 100
M.P.P. Georgetown U. (2014)
Rep. Steny H. Hoyer (MD) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Georgetown U. (1966)
Rep. Jared Huffman (CA) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Boston Coll. (1990)
Rep. Pramila Jayapal (WA) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Georgetown U. (1986)
Rep. Hakeem Jeffries (NY) – NRLC rating 0
M.P.P. Georgetown U. (1994)
Rep. William Keating (MA) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Boston Coll. (1974), M.B.A. Boston Coll. (1982)
Rep. Ann McLane Kuster (NH) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Georgetown U. (1984)
Rep. Ted Lieu (CA) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Georgetown U. (1994)
Rep. Zoe Lofgren (CA) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Santa Clara U. (1975)
Rep. Stephen Lynch (MA) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Boston Coll. (1991)
Rep. Gwen Moore (WI) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Marquette U. (1978)
Rep. Stephanie Murphy (FL) – NRLC rating 0
M.S.F.S. Georgetown U. (2004)
Rep. Jerrold Nadler (NY) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Fordham U. (1978)
Rep. Jimmy Panetta (CA) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Santa Clara U. (1996)
Rep. William J. Pascrell, Jr. (NJ) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Fordham U. (1959), M.A. Fordham U. (1961)
Rep. Greg Pence (IN) – elected 2018
B.A. Loyola U. Chicago (1979), M.B.A. Loyola U. Chicago (1983)
Delegate Stacey Plaskett (VI) – nonvoting member
B.S.F.S. Georgetown U. (1988)
Rep. Michael Quigley (IL) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Loyola U. Chicago (1989)
Rep. Francis Rooney (FL) – NRLC rating 100
B.A. Georgetown U. (1975) , J.D. Georgetown U. (1978)
Rep. Robert C. Scott (VA) – NRLC rating 0
J.D. Boston Coll. (1973)
Rep. Mikie Sherrill (NJ) – elected 2018
J.D. Georgetown U. (2007)
Rep. Albio Sires (NJ) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Saint Peter’s U. (1974)
Rep. Xochitl Torres Small (NM) – elected 2018
B.A. Georgetown U. (2007)
Rep. Adam Smith (WA) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Fordham U. (1987)
Rep. Greg Stanton (AZ) – elected 2018
B.A. Marquette U. (1992)
Rep. Bryan Steil (WI) – elected 2018
B.S. Georgetown U. (2003)
Rep. Tom Suozzi (NY) – NRLC rating 0
B.S. Boston Coll. (1984), J.D. Fordham U. (1989)
Rep. Lori Trahan (MA) – elected 2018
B.A. Georgetown U. (1995)
Rep. Juan C. Vargas (CA) – NRLC rating 0
M.A. Fordham U. (1987)
Rep. Filemon Vela (TX) – NRLC rating 0
B.A. Georgetown U. (1985)
Rep. Peter J. Visclosky (IN) – NRLC rating 0
L.L.M. Georgetown U. (1982)
Rep. Peter Welch (VT) – NRLC rating 0
A.B. Coll. of the Holy Cross (1969)