by The Leaven
ATCHISON — Benedictine College president Stephen D. Minnis participated in a briefing at the White House in Washington last December. He and other Catholic leaders brought their policy concerns and asked questions about federal action on issues of importance to Catholics.
“Congressman Tim Huelskamp of Kansas invited me to participate in this important meeting,” Minnis said. “He indicated that I should come prepared to discuss issues that Catholics — and in my case, Catholics in higher education — care about. Naturally, life issues and religious liberty are top of mind for us.”
Minnis said he focused on three points and left behind information on each.
First: “Catholics need the freedom to create strong public-service institutions.”
“The church has built an incredible network of educational, health care and social institutions, which provide important services to our cities, states and nation,” Minnis said. “But regulations requiring those who serve in the public square to violate their consciences on the right to life and the sanctity of marriage are threatening this important work.”
Second: “Catholic colleges need the freedom to strengthen our communities.”
He said he was particularly concerned that “free college” plans for a government grab of the higher education sector would undermine and ultimately destroy many private faith-based institutions:
• Students would lose the option of learning within a community of faith.
• The costs of millions of students would be pushed into the public sector.
• Many small towns across the country that depend on these schools would be devastated.
Third: Minnis said “Catholics need the right not just to worship but the free exercise of religion, allowing us to prepare students for all walks of life. Too often, aggressive secularization and overreach by government and quasi-governmental bodies make it impossible for Catholics to contribute fully.”
This is not the first time Minnis has been tapped to represent Catholic higher education. He was previously invited to participate in the U.S. bishops’ “Ex Corde Ecclesiae” working group and the Vatican’s “Church in America” conference.
“I am honored to be invited, but I know they aren’t inviting me as much as they are acknowledging the national reputation Benedictine College has for our commitment to the faith and to Catholic higher education,” said Minnis.
“That Benedictine College is included in opportunities like this is due to our strong faculty, administration and board of directors.”