Catholic Watchdog Reports Fewer Pro-Abortion Commencement Speakers

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   May 7, 2007   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Watchdog Reports Fewer Pro-Abortion Commencement Speakers Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
May 7
, 2007

Washington, DC ( — There’s good news at the Catholic colleges and universities across the nation, according to the Cardinal Newman Society. Unlike in previous years, the number of pro-abortion commencement speakers and honorees is on the decline.

For the past nine years CNS research has identified invited commencement speakers or honorees at Catholic colleges who have taken public positions contrary to Catholic values or teaching, such as abortion.

In 2006, CNS reported problems at 24 colleges with speakers or honorees who publicly advocated abortion, embryonic stem cell research, or assisted suicide.

This year, however, CNS has only had to alert the presidents of 11 educational institutions about the beliefs of speakers or honorees. CNS is urging the presidents of those schools to withdraw the invitations their schools have extended to honorees.

“This is a very hopeful sign that more Catholic college leaders are embracing Pope John Paul II’s vision for faithful Catholic higher education,” Patrick Reilly, president of the group, told

Looking at some of the problem speakers, pro-abortion MSNBC commentator Chris Matthews will address students at Villanova University on May 20.

In 2003, three local bishops refused to attend commencement ceremonies at the College of the Holy Cross and the University of Scranton, because both chose to honor Matthews.

Other schools inviting pro-abortion speakers include Nebraska’s College of Saint Mary — where Roberta Wilhelm, the director of Girls Inc. of Omaha will be the commencement speaker.

Loyola University New Orleans has pro-abortion NAACP chairman Julian Bond to speak and receive an award, Marian Court College in Massachusetts has Rep. John Tierney, who has a 100 percent pro-abortion rating in Congress, Marquette University has former Wisconsin Secretary of State Vel Phillips who has assisted pro-abortion groups and candidates, and Ohio Dominican University has Boston College theology professor Rev. David Hollenbach, who has questioned Catholic teaching on abortion.

Meanwhile, Regis College in Massachusetts has pro-abortion Massachusetts Attorney General Martha Coakley, Saint Michael’s College in Vermont features pro-abortion journalist Cokie Roberts and pro-abortion Vermont Governor Jim Douglas and The Graduate School and the University of Notre Dame has University of Michigan president Mary Sue Coleman, a strong embryonic stem cell research advocate.

The pro-life group said it has already received some response to its concerns as Bishop Salvatore Matano of Burlington, Vermont, has indicated he will not attend commencement ceremonies at nearby St. Michael’s College.

"We are grateful that the concerns of the U.S. bishops and the Cardinal Newman Society’s more than 20,000 members are being heard by the overwhelming majority of Catholic colleges this year,” Reilly said.

CNS also commended 14 colleges for honoring Vatican leaders, bishops and leading Catholic thinkers including University of Notre Dame philosopher Ralph McInerny and Rev. Richard John Neuhaus of First Things.

Some of those institutions include Assumption College in Massachusetts, Canisius College and Fordham University in New York, St. Ambrose University in Ohio, St. Mary’s College of California and Univ. of Portland.

Related web sites:
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