The Curious Case of Manhattan College

The school’s Catholic identity is nowhere to be found, according to the US government.

Over on the CWR homepage, you’ll find Anne Hendershott’s article from our July issue, “Conveniently Catholic.” In it, she relates the recent controversies surrounding Manhattan College – an institution recently forced to argue for its Catholic identity in the face of the federal government’s insistence that the college had long since abandoned that identity: 

While Manhattan College claimed that it is exempt from the NLRB’s jurisdiction because it is a church-operated institution, the federal labor board judged that the college had distanced itself so far from the authority and teaching of the Catholic Church that it no longer merited government recognition as an institution that is church-operated. 

The NLRB based its ruling on a thorough review of the published materials issued by Manhattan College, including mission statements, descriptions, admissions brochures, and trustee reports.… 

Pointing out that although the college frequently cites its Lasallian tradition in describing itself in its public documents, the NLRB concluded that these references are made in “purely secular terms.” In fact, the NLRB noted that the College’s Trustee Report—a report that is distributed to prospective hires—states that “recent scholarship on De La Salle has made it possible to disengage his educational achievement from its roots in Catholic France of the 17th century and apply Lasallian educational principles in religious pluralistic contexts.”

Concluding that Manhattan College’s public statement distancing itself from its Catholic roots in the work of St. John Baptist de la Salle “belies its efforts in this case to construe its public reference to De La Salle and Lasallian education as dispositive of its religious affiliation,” the NLRB has managed to do something that most Catholic bishops have been reluctant to do for more than four decades now. The NLRB has stated publicly that neither the culture nor the curriculum at a once-strong Catholic college is guided by the Catholic Church. 

Read the whole article here.

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About Catherine Harmon 577 Articles
Catherine Harmon is managing editor of Catholic World Report.