by Steven Ertelt
May 18, 2005
Utica, NY (LifeNews.com) — A Republican congressman canceled a speech at a Catholic nursing college in New York because church officials complained about his stance in favor of legalized abortion. Rep. Sherwood Boehlert, of New York, had planned to give the commencement speech at St. Elizabeth’s College of Nursing’s graduation ceremony.
Boehlert says he canceled because he didn’t want the controversy about his abortion views to distract from the students’ graduation celebration.
Syracuse Bishop James Moynihan told college officials he would oppose Boehlert’s selection as the main speaker. He also opposed the venue for the graduation ceremony — a church across the street from the college.
The Saturday event is traditionally held at Our Lady of Lourdes
College officials told the Associated Press they picked Boehlert to give the speech because of his work on health and education issues.
Marianne Monahan, president of the college, told AP, "I called the bishop’s office and asked if he would object to it and they said yes."
"We meant no harm," Monahan said. "As a Catholic college of nursing, our mission is to promote the sanctity of life and in no way to promote abortion, euthanasia or anything else that takes away from the dignity of life."
Danielle Cummings, a spokeswoman for the Diocese of Syracuse, told Newsday the policy regarding not having abortion advocates given a platform at a church or official Catholic event "is clear."
In fact, a document approved by the nation’s Catholic bishops last summer that calls on Catholic colleges and universities not to give a platform to elected officials who back abortion.
"Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles," the bishops said. "They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."
The statement, called "Catholics in Political Life," was adopted by a vote of 183-6 last summer.
Last month, the Catholic Church disaffiliated with Marymount Manhattan College, also in New York. It came under fire when it announced plans to plans to honor pro-abortion Senator Hillary Clinton with an honorary degree. Clinton is also scheduled to deliver the commencement address.