Well-known pro-life advocate Katie Ascough has described her experience of UCD as being underlined by an “anti-religious” sentiment following their belated decision to send a representative to the canonisation of the university’s founder St John Henry Newman in Rome on October 13.
The university had attributed its secularity as reason not to send a representative. Only after a week of pressure from students, staff and the public was the decision reversed.
The former Students’ Union president labelled UCD’s evasive handling of the Newman canonisation as an indication of the ‘Catholic-phobia’ prevalent on campus. Writing in the Irish Times, Ms Ascough said an “upstanding, mature and religiously impartial university” would have “jumped at the opportunity for renewed interest in and acclamation of its founder”.
Ms Ascough, past president of the UCD Students’ Union who was impeached by students following a controversy arising from her decision to remove abortion information from a student magazine after getting legal advice, described a ‘pervasive hostility’ towards Catholics across campus.
“In my time at UCD, I experienced an endemic and tangible hostility towards my Faith from a range, if not a majority, of professors, students and, undoubtedly, the UCD Students’ Union and student societies.
“It was not uncommon for lecturers to scoffingly dismiss the Catholic Church, ensuring to note how backwards and irrelevant it was,” she said.
UCD’s failure to enthusiastically honour its founder and respect the Catholic Faith of students, she said, dishonours the memory of St John Henry and discredits the integrity of his educational mission.