Catholic Leader Says Pope Will Likely Talk Abortion But Not Politics During Visit

National   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 6, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Catholic Leader Says Pope Will Likely Talk Abortion But Not Politics During Visit Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt Editor
April 6
, 2008

Washington, DC ( — The president of Catholic University of America says Pope Benedict XVI will likely talk about abortion when he visits the United States this month, but isn’t expected to weigh in on presidential politics. The pope is also expected to address the problem of Catholic colleges giving platforms to pro-abortion politicians.

Father David O’Connell told CNN’s "Late Edition" on Sunday that the pontiff understands American politics and won’t try to influence how people vote.

"I’ve been reading in the papers, people saying he’s going to say this and he’s going to say that. The fact of the matter is, no one knows. No one has a text of his speeches at this time," O’Connell told Wolf Blitzer.

O’Connell said he would be surprised if the pope touched on anything that either political party could seize on as support for a particular presidential candidate.

"I think he’ll be consistent with what he’s taught and preached all along. But I don’t think he will direct that, in any way shape or form, toward the political situation we find ourselves in right now," he added.

At the same time, the Catholic leader is expected to remind parishioners that the Church holds the pro-life position in high regard and that it is more important than other political issues.

"I think what we can find in this is a pope who will speak in a way that is consistent with what he has taught and believed over many, many years, even before he has been pope," the CUA president added.

As reported last month, pro-life Catholics expect Pope Benedict to hold Catholic colleges accountable that have invited pro-abortion speakers to campus.

The pontiff has requested an audience with more than 200 top officials from Catholic universities and he is expected to make it clear they need to follow Church teachings.

O’Donnell spoke about that speech during the CNN interview.

"He’ll be delivering 11 speeches and homilies while he’s there, one of which will occur at Catholic University to Catholic educators and Catholic college presidents," he said. "And I think what we can expect from him is a sense of what’s at the core of the church, its mission, and its teaching."

For pro-life advocates who have complained about the rash of recent pro-abortion speakers on campus — such as Hillary Clinton at St. Mary’s University and St. Peter’s College hosting Barack Obama — news of a possible rebuke from Pope Benedict is welcome.

Patrick Reilly, president of the Cardinal Newman Society, a leading watchdog in monitoring Catholic colleges and the speakers they bring, told the Washington Post he’s excited about the prospects for a strong admonition from Benedict.

"This is something that’s been simmering for so long that it’s reached a boiling point," he said.

He added that several bishops and Vatican officials have indicated the speech will "raise a lot of eyebrows."

Some of the recent concerns about pro-abortion speakers at Catholic Colleges include:

* Pennsylvania-based Mercyhurst College agreed to host a rally for pro-abortion candidate Hillary Clinton.

* King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania hosted a rally for Hillary Clinton.

* University of St. Thomas (TX) President Robert Ivany had to cancel a scheduled speech by pro-abortion Latino leader Dolores Huerta.

* St. Mary’s University, also in Texas, came under fire from pro-life advocates for hosting a rally for pro-abortion Democratic presidential candidate Hillary Clinton.

* St. Louis University officials came under fire for not disciplining basketball coach Rick Majerus after the pro-abortion comments he made at a rally for Clinton.

* Trinity University in Washington, D.C. got heat from Reilly’s group for continuing to extol two of its pro-abortion alumnae, Speaker of the House Nancy Pelosi and Kansas Governor Kathleen Sebelius.

* St. Peter’s College, a Jesuit Catholic institution, allowed pro-abortion Democratic presidential candidate Barack Obama to hold a rally there.