Campus Notebook: Georgetown, University of Scranton, react to sex abuse reports

by James Dearie

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Editor's note: Welcome to NCR's college roundup, where every Friday we bring you the latest news in Catholic college and university life. Do you have news you would like to share? Email James Dearie at

WASHINGTON—The editorial board of The Hoya, Georgetown University's student newspaper, released an editorial Aug. 31 calling on the university to condemn former cardinal, retired Washington Archbishop Theodore McCarrick, as well as his successor, Cardinal Donald Wuerl.

"Georgetown University, the oldest Catholic institution of higher learning in the United States, must wield its reputation within the church for good, especially in the face of horrific abuse inflicted on children," the article begins.

"The university must condemn Catholic leaders it has honored who are now implicated in perpetrating and covering up sexual abuse."

McCarrick resigned from the College of Cardinals in late July after the Vatican announced that it had found accusations of sexual abuse against McCarrick to be credible.

Wuerl has come under criticism from both Catholic and secular figures since the release of the Pennsylvania grand jury report, in which his handling of several different abuse cases was detailed. Some argue that Wuerl's actions contributed to the cover-up of abuse.

Both the former and current cardinal hold honorary degrees from Georgetown.

"Georgetown must strip McCarrick and Wuerl of their Georgetown degrees and release a statement of condemnation calling on the church to tackle abuse in a more aggressive and transparent manner," the editorial says.

"Administrators must recognize the role they have to play and do all they can to disavow Cardinals McCarrick and Wuerl of their Georgetown ties."

SCRANTON, Penn.—The University of Scranton, a Jesuit institution, has announced that it is removing the names from buildings of three bishops accused of covering up sex abuse.

"The recent release of more than 1,300 pages of grand jury proceedings detailing sexual abuse by Catholic priests in Pennsylvania and failures by Church leaders in responding to these situations is justifiably generating international attention and outrage," Jesuit Fr. Scott Pilarz, the university's president, wrote in an Aug. 20 response to the grand jury report. "Since the report's release last week, the University has considered how best to respond to the deeply disturbing report and to past honors and recognition it has bestowed upon individuals named in it."

The president recommended to the board that names of former Scranton Bishops Jerome Hannan, J. Carroll McCormick and James Timlin be removed from buildings on campus. The board accepted the recommendations.

Hannan served as the bishop of the diocese from 1954 until his death in 1965; McCormick, his immediate successor, led the diocese for the next 17 years, and died in 1996. Timlin, who was bishop from 1984 to 2003, is 91.

"McCormick Hall will be renamed MacKillop Hall in honor of Saint Mary of the Cross MacKillop, an Australian nun who founded the Sisters of Saint Joseph of the Sacred Heart and who publicly exposed the sexual abuse of children by a priest," Pilarz said.

Timlin house will be renamed for Salvadorian bishop and soon to be canonized Archbishop Óscar Romero, and Hannan Hall will be renamed Giblin-Kelly Hall, after a University of Scranton senior who died in a car accident in 2006, and a graduate who died at the World Trade Center on 9/11.

OAKLAND, Calif.—Four Catholic colleges and universities were highlighted on a new list of the United States' most environmentally friendly colleges.

Sierra magazine, the official magazine of the Sierra Club, released its 2018 "Cool Schools" list Aug. 20, according to a press release by the club. In addition to ranking all colleges and universities which prepare a submission, the magazine also acknowledges the top 20, which this year included Seattle University at 8, Santa Clara University at 13, University of Dayton at 18, and Loyola Marymount University at 19.

"Each of the schools ranked in the top 20 have displayed a deep and thorough commitment to protecting the environment, addressing climate issues, and encouraging environmental responsibility," the press release says. "Using a customized scoring system, Sierra's researchers ranked the universities based on their commitment to upholding high environmental standards."

The methodology for determining the list is also available on the club's website.

MIAMI GARDENS, Fla.—St. Thomas University announced that it will have a football team for the first time next year, according to a report in the Miami Herald.

Along with the football team, a new marching band will also make its debut. Students will be eligible for scholarships in both new activities.

"I don't think we could have done this if we were out in the middle of nowhere," Armstrong said in an announcement Aug. 29, according to the Herald. "Because we're in South Florida, because we're in Miami, we believe we can get traction right away."

When the team first takes the field in 2019 as a member of the National Association of Intercollegiate Athletics' Mid-South Conference, it will not be the first time the university has welcomed football to its campus. The Miami Dolphins used the university's facilities for training camp from 1970 to 1992.

[James Dearie is an NCR Bertelsen intern. Contact him at]

This story appears in the Campus Notebook feature series. View the full series.

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