CHARLOTTE, N.C. — Belmont Abbey College, a private, Catholic college associated with the Order of St. Benedict, is cited in a new report examining the influence of the conservative Cardinal Newman Society on Catholic higher education.

Catholics for Choice released the report, saying that the Cardinal Newman Society has a radical goal to stifle speech and thought on Catholic college campuses, including on issues of reproductive health, women’s rights and LGBT rights.

“The perception created by the Cardinal Newman Society is that Catholic universities are meant to further a limited, conservative agenda — to be places devoid of heart and community,” Catholics for Choice President Jon O’Brien said in a release. “We feel we have an obligation to set the record straight and give voice to the many Catholics who hold our universities and intellectual tradition much dearer than that.”

The Cardinal Newman Society is one of several groups Catholics for Choice has targeted in its ongoing “Opposition Notes” series.

“As with other groups examined by ‘Opposition Notes,’ we see an organization whose shrill voice is sometimes mistaken for the voice of all Catholics, simply because they speak more loudly than others,” O’Brien said. “In reality, the Cardinal Newman Society’s version of Catholic education is not shared by most faculty or students and would not be recognized by Cardinal Newman himself.

“Catholics for Choice stands up for those willing to ask the hard questions about faithful social engagement today and tomorrow, while at the same time embracing the richness of Catholic thought.”

Belmont Abbey College’s ongoing legal battle regarding contraception is cited in a section of the report describing some colleges’ efforts to obtain religious exemptions to healthcare and employment laws, including contraception coverage for employees and laws against employment discrimination. According to the report, some schools seek to retain the right to discriminate while continuing to receive federal funding.

more: You can read more about the report and download it in its entirety here.

Matt Comer

Matt Comer previously served as editor from October 2007 through August 2015 and as a staff writer afterward in 2016.