A college has been stripped of its status as a Catholic institution because it invited pro-abortion Sen. Hillary Clinton, D-N.Y., to give its commencement address and receive an honorary degree.

The decision Thursday by the Archdiocese of New York to end its relationship with Marymount Manhattan College marks the fourth time since the late Pope John Paul II issued Ex Corde Ecclesiae – the apostolic constitution on Catholic universities – that a bishop has declared a historically Catholic college or university to be not Catholic.

“The decision to honor one of Congress’ most outspoken and strident advocates of abortion rights was just the latest episode in a long history of secularization at Marymount Manhattan College,” said Patrick J. Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, a national organization dedicated to the renewal of Catholic identity at the country’s 219 Catholic colleges and universities.

Clinton is scheduled to speak May 20 at Marymount Manhattan.

The three colleges previously declared no longer Catholic are Marist College in Poughkeepsie, N.Y., and Nazareth College and Saint John Fisher College, both in Rochester, N.Y.

“There is tremendous value to clearly and formally identifying wayward Catholic institutions as no longer Catholic, as Cardinal [Edward] Egan has done so courageously,” Reilly said. “We would have preferred that the college’s trustees and officials had embraced the college’s roots and respected those Catholics who founded, attended and funded this institution.”

The Cardinal Newman Society, or CNS, said to Egan in an April 14 letter that it supported removing Marymount Manhattan’s Catholic status if the college “obstinately refuses to acknowledge your pastoral authority as bishop and to uphold the church’s fundamental teachings.”

According to the Archdiocese of New York, Marymount Manhattan officials supported ending its affiliation with the Catholic Church.

In 1961, the college legally separated from its parent institution, Marymount College of Tarrytown, and its founding women’s religious order, the Religious of the Sacred Heart of Mary.

CNS said “signs of the college’s Catholic identity have disappeared over time, even though until [Thursday] it preserved its official status as Catholic, possibly to avoid alienating Catholic alumni and donors.”

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