Jesuitical 15: Gonzaga and the Knights of Columbus

Part 15 of my ongoing survey of the follies of many modern day Jesuits.


Hattip to Matt Archbold at Creative Minority Report.  After 30 years at the bar and almost a decade blogging, there are few stories that shock me any more.  This one did:

Spokane’s Gonzaga University has denied a Knights of Columbus group application to be recognized as an official student organization. Those seeking the status were notified of the University’s decision at a meeting on March 7.

The group was notified of the decision by Dean of Students Kassi Kain and Assistant Director for Student Activities Dave Rovick.

“The Knights of Columbus, by their very nature, is a men’s organization in which only Catholics may participate via membership,” says a letter obtained by The Cardinal Newman Society written by Sue Weitz, Vice President for Student Life. “These criteria are inconsistent with the policy and practice of student organization recognition at Gonzaga University, as well as the University’s commitment to non-discrimination based on certain characteristics, one of which is religion.”

The letter continued:

The discussion at the meeting touched on formation of a Catholic Daughters student organization at Gonzaga. Such a group would address the gender exclusivity issue. However, it would not address the requirement that all members of a student Knights of Columbus group must be Catholic.

Individuals who spoke with The Cardinal Newman Society only on condition of anonymity explained that the group has been stalled by the administration for the entire academic year. Efforts were made by students to apply for official student group status beginning in September. The group was told they would have a response by November. The group wasn’t notified of the University’s decision until March.

Weitz did not return the call from The Cardinal Newman Society seeking comment on the decision.

Go here to The Cardinal Newman Society to read the rest.  That the powers that be at many colleges and universities that claim to be Catholic are actively hostile to the Faith comes as no surprise to me.  The in your face, Fornicate You!, nature of this decision does surprise me, along with the fact that the same rationale for banning the Knights of Columbus could also be used to ban the Catholic Church from campus on the grounds that the Church has male only priests and restricts her membership to, gasp!, Catholics.  Need I even bother mentioning that this is a Jesuit school?

After the furor this decision kicked up, Gonzaga released this statement:

Gonzaga University’s Student Life division recently issued a decision that it could not recognize a proposed Knights of Columbus student club under its current club recognition process. The University is concerned that all of the factors involved in this decision have not been represented in their entirety, and thus may be misunderstood.

Gonzaga University President Thayne McCulloh states that Gonzaga honors and respects the purpose and good works of the Knights of Columbus, with which it has a long tradition and mutual collaboration at both local and state levels. The Knights of Columbus College Council (#12583) is already present within the student body and receives support from the administration. Gonzaga University’s core Catholic and Jesuit identity recognizes, encourages and supports many student organizations that advance faith-related issues (for example, Gonzaga Right to Life, and the Blessed John Paul II Fellowship).

President McCulloh has received a request from the sponsoring student to review the decision regarding the recognition of the organization as a student club, and has decided to undertake this review. The review is expected to take 30-45 days.

It is a truism that character is what we do when no one else has their eye on us, and the powers that be at Gonzaga, no matter what their final decision is, have already amply demonstrated their character and their committment to the Catholic Church.


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Donald R. McClarey

Cradle Catholic. Active in the pro-life movement since 1973. Father of three and happily married for 35 years. Small town lawyer and amateur historian. Former president of the board of directors of the local crisis pregnancy center for a decade.


  1. “already…. receives support from the administration”?

    I think that means they allow them to be there on their own… just like the weather underground could meet there (if they still exist) as long as they had a dorm room or off campus church basement to meet in. But being just tolerated as one of many clubs or interest groups does not allow using school sanctioned methods/avenues of communication, access to information, school facilities, meeting rooms or generally any kind of facilitation, not being able to host meetings or seminars on campus facilities..
    Unfortunately I think schools now do facilitate radical groups under the same rubrics by which they deny faithful Catholic groups that standing on campus. You can see where schools would want to withhold the implicit endorsement of some organizations and grant others… so it would be interesting to see what kind of groups Gonzaga has endorsed with this recognition.
    Let me know what I am missing.

  2. I am confused.

    I went to the K pf C Council’s web site and it sure looks like a college chapter. I can’t tell from the articles or the college’s statement what the application was for.

    Was this an application fro the existing Council to obtain status as an official Gonzaga club or from a separate group of students to form another Council but under the ausices of Student Life? It is all the more difficult to put the pieces together because Gonzaga’s process for forming sanctioned groups is cordoned off from public perusal, the statement on the web site saying “contact Student Life if the organizations on the list don’t cover your interest” – or something to that effect.

    It sounds like there are two statuses: sanctioned groups and external groups that can call themselves Gonzaga entities. The sanctioned groups appear to have to meet the non-discrimination guidelines. It spunds like the Administration is calling the external group (the K of C Council to which their students presently belong) a campus organization to deflect attention from denying a decidedly Catholic organization as a sanctioned group.

    Do I have it right?

  3. As a student at Gonzaga I can confirm that last year when the Knights were stripped of club status they had all the funds they raised frozen and taken from them. Without the funds they had raised they were unable to pay dues and the council folded. The website has not been updated.

    Also, the parish next to the campus has a k of c chapter but it is separate from the students and the University.

    The university is hostile towards Catholics. Our bishop has been supportive of progressive policies as well through his banning of the seminarians at gonzaga from praying in front of planned parenthood to his support of the v monologues on campus. If you care about the souls of your children, do not send them here.

  4. Ugh. That is intolerable.

    I’ve been holding back in hopes that this was a purely administrative matter. Given the above, the decision requires a response.

    Thanks for the clarification Katie.

    Brother Knights, surely this is a cause we can take action on?!

  5. Yep, the college council website is pretty out of date. The last roster of officers is from 2006-2007.


    As I said to someone else, there’s a reason I chortle every time Gonzaga’s overrated fraud of a basketball team flames out in the tournament: this sort of behavior is it.

  6. Remove the title or status of “Catholic” from its charter. I’m writing of the University status.

  7. Would so appreciate it if the website had consideration of those of us with poorer vision and used darker typefaces! Can’t read article.

  8. Please clarify for me, the lower educated.
    What constitutes a University as being Catholic?
    Is it from its inception?
    If so, are there any guidelines or criteria that a University must attain to, to call itself Catholic.
    If not..can the student body, alum, or a “governing body” help clarify what it means by the title ( a Catholic University.)

  9. An International pursuit of Justice conference coming up in two Weeks. A good opportunity for the 4th degree to get the word out and about the domestic injustice.

  10. For the President to require about a month to review the facts is unwarranted. The university has had this request for months. It is only now that they are feeling the heat for their ridiculous decision that the President has the time to review this proposal. It really tells you about the lack of leadership at this institution. What a great political and public relations strategy…wait it out! Most likely this letter was not reviewed by the President, but only when it blew in their face that they paid attention to it. Notice how the official statement is written in the third person. Wouldn’t be more sincere if the President came out and personally took responsibility for the unjustifiable and unacceptable decision by one of his lower-in-command?

  11. Our 13 year old has been dreaming of going to Gonzaga since 3rd grade. This developement breaks my heart.His Father and Brother are both Knights.I always felt secure in the knowledge that he would be safe at Gonzaga, and that his Faith would be nurtured there.He is even excited about attending Stuebenville North West when he reaches high school, (held at Gonzaga). Please keep us posted.

  12. if people refused to contribute to gonzaga’s fund raising efforts, it would return quite quickly to the catholic faith. it worked at my alma mater when it was contemplating allowing the formation of a pro-choice club. when they called asking for a donation, i told the caller i was not supporting the school until it definitively rejected the possibility of allowing a pro-choice organization to be recognized by the university. i am pretty sure many other alumni did the same. it was within a year after that, that the university publicly declared there would be no pro-choice student organization recognized. even in catholic institutions, money still talks. it is sad that such measures, denying support, are needed; but, that is the reality.

  13. As a former student that quit this so called “catholic school” I am not surprised in the least. The hierarchy at the top kiss butt to the perverts because they are probably homosexuals themselves. Most of the bishops and cardinal are homosexuals and that is why this goes on and that is why the “priest scandal” came about. The liars that they are call it pedophilia, which is less than 1% of the “sex abuse scandal”. They have infiltrated the priesthood ie the hierarchy, and the hierarchy at the schools hire their butdies, more homosexuals. In the meantime guys like mahooey, hunthauser, weakland, etc. ruin the minds of the children as well as the adults, yet no one at the vatican, let alone in the usa, will start the process to excommunicate those traitors. God will help us, and the truth will prevail. Fight them and quit being so stupid and apathetic. PEOPLE, WAKE UP!!

  14. A majority of our bishops fail to enforce the doctrines of our faith. Archbishop Dolan gave Biden, a supporter of abortion rights communion at the installation mass for the pope. He is the most powerful bishop in the U US, the voice of the church and I think John Cardinal O’Connor, founder of the Sisters of
    Life, must be spinning in his grave. Actually ,he’s a saint in heaven & was a true descendant of the apostles. I wouldn’t give a plug nickel for most of them. Thankfully, the bishop of Phoenix is also a devout defender of the faith, not afraid to declare the church’s doctrines. Chaput is great & there are others but I think Dolan is a disgrace.

  15. Sad to say, but I am glad Gonzaga lost in the first round of the NCAA basketball tournament this year. As a university en total, they do not deserve to succeed until they repent and do penance for their sinful ways.

  16. For the rest of the story: Be careful when you hear that the baby should be thrown out with the bathwater. Gonzaga is a still a wonderful place, an excellent educational opportunity and my son, a devout Catholic, finds plenty of support for his Eucharistic adoration, weekly Mass, devotionals, etc. He has met nothing but great friends and people there and I am a die-hard daily-Mass type mom who would never have sent him to some fake-Catholic university. Go, Zags!!! Bing is smiling, I’m sure. And by the way, Satan would love this institution to fail, good luck with that!!

  17. Barbara, while it might be true that your son has received a good education and had pleasant experiences, the accumulation of evidence is starting to be stacked against Gonzaga.

    I attended a Jesuit high school in New York that was academically rigorous and provided me – at no cost to me or anyone else who has ever attended it – a superior education. I also made lifelong friends who are wonderfully devout Catholics. That doesn’t make up for the fact that I was woefully catechized by priests and other teachers who wore their dissent like a badge of honor.

  18. Barbara, I wonder if you aren’t proving the old adage “you get out of college what you put into it.”

    Might it be that both representations are true:

    Your son got a good Catholic education and hung with Catholic people because you (much to your credit) raised him to be Catholic and that Gonzaga has a warped sense of what a Catholic university can and should be?

    Gonzaga is denying status to a Knights of Columbus council because it is exclusively Catholic. This is discordant with the mission to raise educated Catholics.

    Perhaps you did so good a job raising your son that the same results would have come from his attending a non-Catholic school, or even one hostile to the Faith?

  19. Gonzaga’s decision ostensibly turned on “discrimination” in two areas — Catholic and male. Think about the gender of the two top administrators involved in the decision: Vice-president for Student Life Sue Weitz, Dean of Students Dean of Students Kassi Kain. The greater problem may be that this is a MALE group. In the simplistic mental slop about “discrimination’ and “diversity” in this case, the Knights group is part of the male oppressors and patriarchy which needs suppression, unlike a Catholic women’s group which is essential for supporting women in fighting oppression. In other words, the underlying rationale is simple minded reductionism about gender as well as Catholicism on a Jesuit campus. The irony about Jesuits being a male Catholic order escapes the mental grasp of these administrators.

  20. The article says that the gender issue was raised and answered by offering to set up a “Catholic Daughters” – presumably The Catholic Daughters of the Americas – chapter.

    The lack of clarity is very frustrating. I can’t figure out if the petitioners (men) offered to set up a women’s group to answer that concern or if there was a collateral proceeding involving women who also wanted to set up a gender and religion exclusive organization.

    I am unwilling to state that these two administrators exercised their gender biases through this decision without evidence of this. You may be right but I think we have to take the story as it is unless more evidence is presented.

    Frankly, the disconnect between Gonzaga’s Catholic Christian mission and their actions in this case is bad enough.

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