A group of 50 Catholic educators from around the U.S. is urging the Catholic University of America to give up a $1 million donation from hyper-conservative financiers Charles and David Koch, the Washington Post reported on Monday.
A letter signed by the group, which includes high-ranking officials at various other Catholic universities, did compliment the Kochs for giving such a large sum to Catholic University’s new business and economics program, but also urged the school not to “ignore the stark contrast between the Koch brothers’ public policy agenda and our Church’s traditional social justice teachings.”
The money will reportedly be used to teach “principled entrepreneurship” in the program. The letter was reportedly delivered to university President John Garvey and Dean Andrew Abela last week.
Mother Jones reported that the letter cited Pope Francis’ recent remarks on economic policy as an argument against the school accepting money from the Kochs. Organizations tied to the two Kansas-based entrepreneurs donated more than $30 million to 221 universities between 2007 and 2011.
“While the Koch brothers lobby for sweeping deregulation of industries and markets, Pope Francis has criticized trickle-down economic theories, and insists on the need for stronger oversight of global financial markets to protect workers from what he calls ‘the dictatorship of an economy which is faceless and lacking any truly humane goal,'” the letter stated.
The university, which was established in 1887 by U.S. bishops following approval from then-Pope Leo XIII, released a statement on Monday rejecting the criticism, calling it “presumptuous.”
“First, its authors cast themselves as arbiters of political correctness regarding Charles Koch Foundation grants,” the statement said. “Second they seek to instruct The Catholic University of America’s leaders about Catholic social teaching, and do so in a manner that redefines the Church’s teaching to suit their own political preferences.”
According to Mother Jones, the university’s move was also criticized by the progressive Christian group Faithful America, which has amassed more than 28,000 signatures on a petition calling for it to reject the Kochs’ money.