Catholic girls gone wild?

By Patrick J. Reillypresident and founder, The Cardinal Newman Society It was not so long ago, when singer Billy Joel’s … Continued

By Patrick J. Reilly
president and founder, The Cardinal Newman Society

It was not so long ago, when singer Billy Joel’s chiding plea to “Come Out, Virginia” resonated with thousands of young people born into the Sexual Revolution, many of them reveling in American society’s defiance of the Catholic Church and traditional sexual mores.

According to a new study, Virginia may not be so reluctant anymore.

Researchers from Mississippi State University considered a survey of 1,000 college students nationwide and were surprised to find that “women attending colleges and universities affiliated with the Catholic Church are almost four times as likely to have participated in ‘hooking up’ compared to women at secular schools.”

A “hook up” is defined as a casual physical encounter with a male student, without the expectation of an ongoing relationship. Not many years ago, such encounters were taboo among Catholics as clear violations of women’s dignity and the sanctity of marriage–the only place where sexual activity is healthy and positive, according to Catholic teaching.

But while the Catholic Church, properly speaking, has never deviated from its teachings on sex within marriage, recent decades have seen a large portion of self-identified Catholics–primarily non-Mass-attending Catholics–embracing the loose sexual morality preached on television, in Hollywood and on the typical college campus.

Meanwhile, too many Catholic colleges and universities have experienced a dramatic decline in Catholicity while abandoning serious concern for the formation of students spiritually and socially outside the classroom.

A report last month out of Georgetown University found significant declines in Catholic practice and fidelity among students at 34 Catholic colleges in the United States. While 16 percent of Catholics at these institutions increase support for the pro-life position on abortion, 31 percent become more “pro-choice” over four years. Similar results on same-sex marriage: 16 percent embrace Catholic teaching on marriage, but 39 percent move further away from it. Alarmingly, 12 percent of Catholic students leave the faith altogether–most of them declaring no religion at all.

Although these declines in faith are similar for Catholic students regardless of where they attend college, the fact is hardly comforting to Catholic families who scrape and save to put their sons and daughters through Catholic education, expecting an environment that fosters Catholic spiritual and moral development.

Moreover, the Georgetown researchers’ assumption that Catholic colleges cannot be reasonably expected to counter cultural trends among young people seems highly pessimistic and dismissive of religion (and any Catholic educator should strongly argue the point). Another new study–published alongside the Mississippi State findings in the September 2009 issue of the Journal for the Scientific Study of Religion–finds a marked difference in attendance at religious services at conservative Protestant colleges, where convictions are shared and embraced by strong “moral communities.”

Researcher Jonathan Hill of Calvin College finds that annual declines in religious practice at Catholic colleges are about 2.5 times the rate of public university students. The declines are primarily found among non-Catholic Christians; nevertheless, Catholic students are no more religious than their peers at public universities–a finding also confirmed by the Georgetown study. But Hill’s analysis directly attributes the lax religiosity at Catholic colleges to the lack of a “clear, robust, religious tradition on many of these campuses.”

That’s a failing that can be resolved if Catholic educators are so inclined. The Cardinal Newman Society profiles 21 institutions in The Newman Guide to Choosing a Catholic College, all of them selected because of an overtly strong Catholic identity that is reflected in most of their graduates. What is needed is further study comparing these institutions to the remaining Catholic colleges and universities, many of which have significantly secularized over the past 40 years.

Approach Virginia on one of these strongly Catholic campuses with impure intentions, and you’re likely to get slapped in the face. There are still “Catholic girls” and institutions where Catholic values are taught and practiced consistently.

It would seem that the prevailing culture does not always win out over faith–unless faith is compromised.

Patrick J. Reilly is president and founder of The Cardinal Newman Society.

  • YEAL9

    Much of this is added proof that all followers of religion to include Patrick J. Reilly are actually “Mythians” considering the mythical foundations of the major religions i.e. there was no Abraham, no Moses, no Noah, no Easter, no virgin birth and no Gabriel and therefore no angelic revelations to Mary or Mohammed.At many Catholic colleges/universities where the professors have exhaustively studied the scriptures and non-scriptural documents from the times of the foundations of the major religions are responsible for bringing these mythical concepts to the attention of their students.vs. “Researcher Jonathan Hill of Calvin College finds that annual declines in religious practice at Catholic colleges are about 2.5 times the rate of public university students. The declines are primarily found among non-Catholic Christians; nevertheless, Catholic students are no more religious than their peers at public universities–a finding also confirmed by the Georgetown study. But Hill’s analysis directly attributes the lax religiosity at Catholic colleges to the lack of a “clear, robust, religious tradition on many of these campuses.”

  • rick_desper

    This reads nearly identical to an editorial I read as a freshman at Georgetown in 1987. Complaining about “kids today” is a time-honored tradition in the Catholic church.

  • ZZim

    I attended a Catholic college. I hooked up all the time. So what? How is this your business?

  • CatholicGlasses

    Gloating that Catholic College Girls are 4x More Likely to “Hook Up” on a College Date….doesn’t make the Author of this Story look professional. But, it does show the author of this story’s prejudice. Shame on you! Some in college make it a point to pursue Catholic Girls to have “Notch” on their belts….as if that will somehow make them … more of a man, than they really are. NO GENTLEMEN BOASTS ABOUT SUCH NONSENSE! IF THEY DO RUN! THAT GUY HAS “VENERIAL DISEASE” WRITTEN ALL OVER HIS “COME HITHER STATEMENTS.” RESPECT YOUR BODIES, LADIES. LADIES HOLD THE LINE…WAIT FOR THE “RING” TO DO THE “THING.” MAKE ‘EM WAIT. ONLY THE GOOD ONES WILL WAIT…THE REST WEREN’T WORTH YOUR BOTHER, NOR YOUR TEARS. THIS EVEN GOES FOR MY SONS…IF THEY TRY TO GET U INTO BED…RUN…THEY DON’T GIVE A DAMN ABOUT U. ONLY THE MAN AND THE WOMAN THAT WAITS…TRUELY HAVE A REAL GIFT TO GIVE EACH OTHER ON THEIR WEDDING NIGHT. AND, GO TO CONFESSION, PRAY THE DAILY ROSARY…AND HAVE A STRONG DEVOTION TO HOLY MOTHER CHURCH AND HER TEACHINGS….AND U WON’T GO WRONG! “AND, U WILL LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER.” THE END!

  • Doodlebug1967

    The only thing “new” here is the term “hook up.” In my day the girls on campus simply referred to “seducing a guy” and they usually targeted the seminarians because they figured they weren’t interested in long-term commitment either.

  • just_me1

    The quaint suggestion that a woman’s independent decision to have sex is a “clear violation of her dignity” is terribly condescending. Morever, the teaching that sex is only “healthy and positive” within a marriage is merely a reflection of the Catholic institution’s simultaneous discomfort and obsession with the sex lives of its members. As long as a person is registered Catholic and married, the church could not care less whether that person’s sex life is, in fact, healthy or positive.

  • Athena4

    Somewhere, Frank Zappa is reading this post and laughing.

  • paulhume

    Plus ca change plus c’est la meme chose.I was born in 1950 and took my bachelors at Georgetown from 1968-72. I had actually renounced the Catholic faith the summer between senior year (at Gonzaga) and freshmsn year on the Hilltop, however.I observed a good many classmates who were sexually active, some casually, some not (not alas with me – I didn’t get shut of my virginity until after graduate school, though blessings rain upon her unto the ages, the lady was indeed a Georgetown student – Hoya Saxa indeed).Not sure how the percentages then compare to now, but in a different context, I know one of the doctors at the campus clinic was astonished when a female friend, suffering a painful infection, proved on examination to be a virgin. As she reported the conversation, he said “You have an intact membrane. I haven’t seen one of these in years.” 1967. Plus ca change etc.

  • usapdx

    AFTER DONE, THEY JUST NEED TO GO TO THE BOX SATURDAY, 4:00 TO 4:30 ORDINARY TIME TO CONFESS AND RECEIVE FORGIVENESS “THROUGH THE ADMISTRATION OF THE CHURCH”.

  • YEAL9

    Then there are the approximate one million abortions/year and 19 million STD cases every year to add significant proof to out of control sexual activity on the part of both girls and guys gone wild in the USA. The CDC estimates that the STD cases cost over $14 billion dollars in health costs every year.The sexual activity of Tiger Woods, Bill Clinton, and the following irresponsible politicians don’t help the situation:2000-2008Vito Fossella (R-NY) – US Congressman arrested for drunk driving, Fossella admitted to having an affair with Laura Fay, with whom he has a three-year-old daughter. He is currently married to Mary Patricia née Rowan with whom he has three children (2008)Tim Mahoney (D-FL) – US Congressman who accepted seat after resignation of Mark Foley for sexual harassment. Mahoney admitted to an affair with his congressional aide and later campaign staffer Patricia Allen. When Allen threatened to sue for sexual harassment Mahoney paid her $122,000. Mahoney is also under FBI investigation for preferential treatment he may have given to Martin County in the amount of $3.4 million in hurricane funds. Mahoney was seeking re-election, but lost. (2008) race.[192]David Vitter (R-LA) – US Senator whose name was discovered in the numbers book of DC Madam Deborah Jeane Palfrey admitted his adultery and resigned from his race for Louisiana Governor. (2007)Randall L. Tobias (R) Deputy Secretary of State, the ‘AIDS Czar’ who stated that condoms were not effective, resigned April 27, 2007 after confirming he had been a customer of the DC Madam, Deborah Jeane Palfrey.Glenn Murphy Jr. (R) – 33 year-old president of the Young Republican National Federation, under investigation for sexual assault of a sleeping 22 year-old man (2007)Larry Craig (R-ID) – US Senator who pled guilty to disorderly conduct in a Minneapolis airport men’s room in June, after having been arrested on a charge of homosexual lewd conduct. Governor Craig had previously stated that “people already know that Bill Clinton is a bad boy – a naughty boy.” (2007)

  • FarnazMansouri

    The author writes:Approach Virginia on one of these strongly Catholic campuses with impure intentions, and you’re likely to get slapped in the face. There are still “Catholic girls” and institutions where Catholic values are taught and practiced consistently.And, if so, with whom are they suppose to “hook up”? NonCatholics? Agnostics? Atheists?

  • olderbutwiser

    I think that the media(with many divorced 50 something males running it) is engaging in wishful thinking. First “cougars”- 40 something fit women who “prey” on 20 something men for sex and now “schoolgirls” who are the aggressors on college and “prey” on young men for sex. Seems like this is just wish fullfillment for frustated men. I know some college age men all of whom laugh at all this nonsense

  • spidermean2

    This is expected coz Catholicism is one of the devil’s religions.

  • YEAL9

    Again, the irresponsible sexual activity of the “Buddhist” Tiger Woods, the “Christian” Bill Clinton, and the following irresponsible politicians and their associates don’t help the situation in teaching our daughters and sons to have proper respect for the Sixth and Ninth Commandments or variations thereof:Mark Stanford, John Edwards, Vito Fossella

  • haveaheart

    “Not many years ago, such encounters were taboo among Catholics as clear violations of women’s dignity and the sanctity of marriage–the only place where sexual activity is healthy and positive, according to Catholic teaching.”This sentence illustrates just how far out of the loop of human behavior the Catholic hierarchy really is.Throughout the ’70s, I (a non-Catholic) went to a public high school and a public university in a part of the U.S. that is heavily populated with Catholics. I knew literally thousands of Catholic girls across that decade, and I promise you that very few of them were any different than their non-Catholic peers when it came to sex, drugs, and rock’n'roll.While Mr. Reilly may have an emotional or psychological need to cling to his conviction that the Catholic girls of yesteryear were as pure and untouched as “Virginia,” nothing could be further from the truth.And, since Mr. Reilly’s argument is based principally on the “yesteryear” argument, the remainder of his essay is rendered moot.Ultimately, his invoking of Jonathan Hill’s words produces more hollow sentiment while pronouncing his own issue dead in the water. He notes: “Hill’s analysis directly attributes the lax religiosity at Catholic colleges to the lack of a ‘clear, robust, religious tradition on many of these campuses.’”Well, that’s what happens when you’re so eager and anxious to enrich your coffers that you invite outsiders into your party. The campuses of most of the significant Catholic colleges are populated in large measure by non-Catholics. So, really, what do you guys expect?

  • utahgirl

    It doesn’t matter how many media people are acting offensively, it does matter that these Catholic colleges are not teaching the faith.Also, in the sixties when this all started, guess what? Most Catholic girls were still behaving themselves because they had gone through parochial schools that stressed chastity.And yes, boys or men should not be acting that way either, but there is still a double standard and always will be.When some of these boys find out their “one night stands” gave them a sexual disease, or a baby was aborted, perhaps they may have second thoughts.The heads of these so-called Catholic Colleges will have much to answer for before God, as they have been given much and wasted it.

  • janet_baker76

    Thanks to the Washington Post for printing this excellent article. While I wish the results were different, the article points toward real Catholic institutions of higher learning where young women and young men may still learn the Faith and the morals it entails, briefly yet clearly explains where (good, positive)human sexuality may be expressed–in marriage–and strikes a hopeful tone in an otherwise dismal discussion. Thanks to the author and to the Washington Post. I’m getting out the checkbook to donate to a real Catholic school, now, during Lent when almsgiving is mandatory among real Catholics.

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