Fifty enthusiastic pro-life activists joined the Pro-Life Action League at the Westin Chicago River North Hotel Saturday evening, October 30, to protest the presentation of the St. Robert Bellarmine award by Loyola University School of Law to Lisa Madigan, the pro-abortion Illinois Attorney General. In chilly, gusting winds, the protesters held posters decrying the award and graphic abortion signs, and distributed a flyer contrasting Madigan’s record with Catholic teaching on abortion.
In July 2004, the Catholic bishops issued a statement that “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.” Yet Loyola went ahead with the Madigan award, over the protests of many Loyola alumni, national pro-life leaders and even Chicago Archbishop Francis Cardinal George. As a state senator, Madigan led the effort to secure $11 million in state funds for the university.
John Jansen, co-director of the League’s Generations for Life youth outreach and a Loyola alumnus, organized the protest of the Law School awards banquet because of Madigan’s strong support for abortion and her pledge during her Attorney General campaign to close down “phony” crisis pregnancy centers. Madigan was endorsed by Planned Parenthood and numerous other pro-abortion groups.
Protest Exposes Loyola’s Shame
Demonstrators ringed the hotel along Dearborn and Clark Streets and Kinzie Ave. “Everyone who attended the event had to see our abortion signs and ‘Shame on Loyola’ posters,” said Jansen.
A professor from the law school stopped to talk to a few of the pro-life demonstrators and was dumbfounded that anyone would object to the Madigan award. He said he was a close friend of Fr. Michael Garanzini, president of Loyola University, and that he would give the protest flyer to “Mike.” He also gave an open invitation to the pro-lifers to attend his Saturday morning class in which ethics are discussed each week.
Loyola’s student pro-life organization, PLUS, helped promote the Madigan protest and joined a discussion on the St. Robert Bellarmine award to Madigan on Relevant Radio’s Drew Mariani Show.
Loyola Ignores Concerned Alumni
Fr. Dwight Campbell, a priest of the Diocese of Peoria who holds undergraduate and law degrees from Loyola, wrote to Cardinal George of his dismay over the award, especially since St. Robert Bellarmine was a great defender of the Catholic faith. “Loyola should be embarrassed that one of its alumni actively promotes the culture of death while holding public office,” wrote Fr. Campbell. “I am embarrassed and ashamed for my alma mater.”
Alumni who wrote to Loyola to protest the award received a generic reply from Loyola Vice President Philip Hale. Hale wrote, “Attorney General Madigan is being recognized by her alumni peers from the School of Law for her many years of dedicated service to the people of Illinois, not her faithfulness to the Catechism of the Catholic Church.”
“Hale should read his Catechism,” commented Jansen. “If Madigan were faithful to those teachings, she would be a great public servant.”
Loyola’s Sad History
The Madigan award is not the first time that Loyola School of Law has been associated with support for abortion. In 1996 when attorneys for Joseph Scheidler and the Pro-Life Action League were preparing for the NOW v. Scheidler trial, the law school newsletter, Student Briefs, ran a notice for a summer internship with NOW attorney, Fay Clayton, calling it “an opportunity to work on one of the most significant abortion rights lawsuits currently pending in the U.S.”
Complaints to both the School of Law and then-president Fr. John Piderit met with no sympathy. Then-Cardinal Joseph Bernardin contacted Piderit, but acknowledged to Scheidler that it was a futile attempt, stating, “I choose battles that I can win.”