by Steven Ertelt
May 19, 2005
Baltimore, MD (LifeNews.com) — Loyola College of Maryland is the latest Catholic higher education institution that is the subject of an abortion debate because of a commencement speaker. The college has invited former New York Mayor Rudy Giuliani, an abortion advocate, to give its commencement speech.
As a result of the decision, pro-life groups are up in arms and Cardinal William Keeler, the Archdiocese of Baltimore, indicated he will boycott the Friday graduation ceremony as a result.
Keeler sent a letter to Loyola’s interim President David Haddad indicating he will not attend and said the boycott would also extend to his staff.
"May I state that there will be no representative of the archdiocese participating in any event honoring former Mayor Giuliani," Keeler wrote. "By now, you understand many of the consequences that spring from [the] invitation."
Mark Kelly, a spokesman for Loyola, told the Associated Press that this year’s graduating class entered school at the time of the September 11 terrorist attacks and having Guliani speak is a reminder of how that event shaped their lives.
"The attacks had a huge effect on this class, many of whom are from New York," Kelly said. "The college selected Mayor Giuliani because of his courage and leadership after the attacks."
Kelly added that Loyola College, a Jesuit university, does not agree with ever speaker it brings to campus.
Guliani, considered a potential presidential candidate in 2008, was not only invited to give the commencement address, but an honorary degree as well.
That violates 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.
The Cardinal Newman Society, which monitors Catholic institutions for their ability to stick with church teachings, said Loyola was one of 18 Catholic colleges and universities running afoul of the bishop’s request not to honor abortion advocates.
"The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles," the group said in a statement. "They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."
This week, 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.
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.