Catholic Colleges With Pro-Abortion Commencement Speakers Draw Fire

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 13, 2004   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Colleges With Pro-Abortion Commencement Speakers Draw Fire

by Valerie Schmalz Staff Writer
May 13, 2004

Washington, DC ( — More than a dozen Catholic colleges have once again invited abortion advocates to speak at their graduations, defying a key teaching of their church.

The Cardinal Newman Society this week listed 19 schools who have chosen "inappropriate speakers" and Patrick Reilly, the group’s president, expects more as only about half of the country’s 223 Catholic colleges have announced their speakers.

"When Catholic institutions honor well-known abortion advocates like Barbara Boxer and Chuck Schumer, they are being openly subversive," said Reilly. "Not only are they scandalizing students and impeding the Church’s aggressive efforts to end legalized abortion, but they are flaunting their nonconformity in a very public way."

While most of those on the list are pro-abortion, the Newman Society also protests those who oppose the Catholic church on other matters, including birth control and gay marriage. The conservative Catholic group’s list has already drawn fire from the more liberal wing of the church, with a critical column today in The National Catholic Reporter.

Reilly says the colleges often excuse themselves by saying they are honoring the speakers for their other achievements. That doesn’t fly, he told, pointing to a small Catholic college in San Francisco, Campion College — which will feature the city’s lone pro-life supervisor, Tony Hall, at its first commencement May 15.

"I think it’s great," Reilly said, contrasting it with Jesuit University of San Francisco’s decision to honor abortion advocate Gavin Newsom, the city’s mayor, as a graduation speaker.

"Very often the argument we get back from these schools, take Gavin Newsom, is that he’s done wonderful things. Number one, it’s downplaying what these people are doing in advancing the Culture of Death. It is also ignoring the fact that there are thousands and thousands of wonderful, honorable people who could be selected as commencement speakers who would not raise these concerns," Reilly said.

"The fact they need to honor these people is rather suspect."

This is the sixth year the Cardinal Newman Society has highlighted pro-abortion commencement speakers and each year about 20 Catholic colleges are on the list, Reilly said. Many colleges vet their speakers with the Newman Society, Reilly said, and only a very few make the list repeatedly.

Some of the Catholic colleges and their pro-abortion speakers and honorees highlighted by the Cardinal Newman Society in 2004 include:

* Former Clinton Administration Assistant U.S. Attorney General Walter Dellinger, commencement speaker at Boston College Law School, May 24. Dellinger chaired NARAL’s 1992 commission to defend Roe v. Wade.

* First Lady of New York Libby Pataki, abortion advocate and wife of pro-abortion Gov. George Pataki, College of St. Rose, Albany, N Y., May 8.

* Hugh Downs, former anchor of ABC’s "20/20" news program, commencement speaker at College of Santa Fe, New Mexico, May 15. In September 1999, Downs wrote a column for ABC News arguing for abortion.

* Earl Graves, founder and publisher of Black Enterprise Magazine, College of New Rochelle, N.Y., May 27. Graves actively supports NARAL Pro-Choice America and helped placed Planned Parenthood public service announcements in magazines targeted to African Americans.

* Anthony Lewis, columnist, DePaul University, Chicago, June 12. In December 2001 columns, Lewis sharply criticized Attorney General John Ashcroft for "ideological zealotry" because he promised to revoke the drug prescription license of any doctor who participates in physician-assisted suicide and President Bush for refusing to fund groups that perform or promote abortions in other countries.

* Sen. Boxer, commencement speaker, Dominican University of California, San Rafael, May 15.

* Sen. Chuck Schumer, congratulatory remarks, Iona College, New Rochelle, N.Y., May 15.

* San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom, commencement speaker, University of San Francisco, May 22.

* Mary Beth Cahill, commencement speaker, Emmanuel College, Boston, May 8. Cahill is managing the presidential campaign for Sen. John Kerry. She also directed EMILY’s List, which funds pro-abortion candidates, from 1993 to 1998.

* Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitch Landrieu, commencement speaker, Loyola University New Orleans, May 15.

Some Catholics have expressed disagreement with the organization’s list.

Today, the National Catholic Reporter newspaper criticized the choice of Dead Man Walking author Sister Helen Prejean, who delivered the May 2 commencement at Notre Dame de Namur University in Belmont, Calif.

Prejean is a noted death penalty opponent, but seemed to lean pro-abortion in a 1996 interview with a Catholic magazine.

Related web sites:
Cardinal Newman Society –