by Steven Ertelt
June 1, 2007
Louisville, KY (LifeNews.com) — Spalding University, a Catholic college in Kentucky, is getting heat from the pro-life community for inviting pro-abortion Congressman John Yarmuth to be its graduation speaker. The commencement ceremonies are tomorrow and Yarmuth will give the address and also receive an honorary degree.
Yarmuth represents Kentucky’s third congressional district and defeated pro-life Rep. Anne Northup in the 2006 elections.
Unlike Northup, who compiled a strong pro-life voting record, Yarmuth backs abortion.
According to the National Right to Life Committee, he has a 0 percent pro-life voting record, having also voted to force taxpayers to fund embryonic stem cell research that requires the destruction of human life.
Michael Janocik, the assistant director of the Kentucky Right to Life Association, said allowing Yarmuth to speak goes against Spalding’s position as a Catholic educational institution.
"For him to speak there and be honored by an honorary degree besmirches its reputation as a Catholic university," he said.
But Tori Murden McClure, vice president for external relations, told the Louisville Courier-Journal newspaper that most students and faculty have supported the decision to ask him to speak. She said the college has hear from just a handful of concerned alumni.
"We have not asked Mr. Yarmuth to make a political statement on the subject of abortion," she said in a statement. "We have asked the congressman to offer words of advice and encouragement to our graduates."
The newspaper reports that the Archdiocese of Louisville indicated it disagrees with the congressman on abortion issues but respects the right of the school to invite a commencement speaker of its choosing.
"We understand that it is not unusual for universities to invite sitting members of Congress to participate in graduation ceremonies, and we accept Spalding’s right to do so," archdiocesan spokeswoman Cecelia Price told the Courier-Journal.
"There are important issues about which we have disagreements and agreements with Mr. Yarmuth, as is the case with many lawmakers. We will continue to work with him on those issues that we share in common and educate him about our positions in areas of disagreement," she said.
However, Janocik points to a document the U.S. Conference of Catholic bishops adopted in 2004 that tells Catholic universities to not give a platform to abortion advocates.
"Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles," the document they unanimously adopted says. "They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions."
Spalding was established by Catholic nuns in the 19th century but some say it has shied away from its close association with the Church in more recent years.
ACTION: Contact the university with your complaints about its speaker choice at Spalding University, 851 South Fourth Street, Louisville, KY 40203. You can call 502-585-9911 or 800-896-8941, fax a letter to 502-585-7158 or email [email protected].