The Catholic University of America accepts more money from Charles Koch Foundation

by Vinnie Rotondaro

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On Thursday, The Catholic University of America's School of Business announced it had accepted a $3 million grant to "bolster the school's goal of advancing the study and practice of principled entrepreneurship."

The Charles Koch Foundation is funding $1.75 million of the grant. 

"This new $3 million grant puts our school far along the path of creating a cadre of faculty dedicated to research exploring how we can make business and economics more humane," Andrew Abela, dean of the business school, said in a press release

"That's not only the vision for our school," Abela said in the release, "it's also a moral imperative that Pope Francis has been championing with great passion."

This isn't the first time that CUA has taken money from the Charles Koch Foundation. 

In November 2013, many social justice Catholics erupted in anger when CUA's business school announced it had accepted a donation of $1 million from the Charles Koch Foundation in order to kick-start its research on "principled entrepreneurship."

A group of 50 prominent Catholic educators signed a letter protesting CUA's acceptance of the 2013 grant, pointing to the ultra-conservative, anti-government, anti-workers-rights, climate-change-questioning, free-market-hyping tendencies of the foundation's namesake, Charles Koch, and his brother, David.

"The Koch brothers are billionaire industrialists who fund organizations that advance public policies that directly contradict Catholic teaching on a range of moral issues from economic justice to environmental stewardship," the educators wrote. 

The signers of the letter write that Pope Francis has blamed growing economic inequality on ideologies "which defend the absolute autonomy of the marketplace and financial speculation," an " 'absolute autonomy of the marketplace' that Charles and David Koch are working to achieve." 

In a press release, CUA leaders called the educators' letter "presumptuous."

In December, another controversy involving the Charles Koch Foundation and Catholic U.S. higher education ensued when Creighton University in Omaha, Neb., accepted funds from the foundation to create a center on economic inquiry.

"Creighton University is now part of a loosely connected but growing network of U.S. universities with economic teaching and research funded, in part, by Charles Koch, the Kansas billionaire and backer of conservative candidates and causes," the Omaha World-Herald reported.

"Critics of the new Institute for Economic Inquiry say it favors a brand of economics that contradicts long-established Catholic social thought, endorsed by Pope Francis and his predecessors," the World-Herald reported. 

[Vinnie Rotondaro is NCR national correspondent. His email address is]

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