Pope’s Visit Prompts Catholic University of St. Thomas to OK Pro-Life Speaker

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Apr 16, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Pope’s Visit Prompts Catholic University of St. Thomas to OK Pro-Life Speaker Email this article
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by Steven Ertelt
LifeNews.com Editor
April 16
, 2008

St. Paul, MN (LifeNews.com) — Pope Benedict XVI’s arrival in the United States for a visit appears to have prompted officials at the Catholic University of St. Thomas in Minnesota to backtrack and allow a pro-life speaker they previous rejected.

UST came under fire earlier this month for canceling a planned speech by respected African-American pro-life advocate Star Parker.

Katie Kieffer, a 2005 alumna of St. Thomas and the founder of a student newspaper with a pro-life perspective there, booked Parker’s speech.

But UST Vice President of Student Affairs Jane Canney apparently nixed the idea citing “concerns” that the lecture was sponsored by Young America’s Foundation. She said the group had sponsored a lecture by conservative columnist Ann Coulter, who had made what she called insensitive remarks.

On Wednesday, Jason Mattera, a YAF spokesman, told LifeNews.com "the university caved" and that the timing of the Pope’s visit appeared to change the minds of UST officials.

"The timing of the Pope’s visit may have prompted school officials to change their mind," he said.

Parker is now slated to speak on campus on Monday, April 21 and she is expected to discuss the horrific effects of abortion on the black community.

The university sent students information about the decision and indicated that it did not have to do with Parker’s pro-life views but with the supposed problems at the Coulter event, Mattera explained.

"For a Catholic institution to deny a pro-life speaker on campus at a time when the Pope is making a historic visit to America just became an embarrassment," he said.

"We called UST out on its anti-intellectualism and lack of diversity. Hopefully now the University will treat its students like the adults they are and allow them to hear from a variety of speakers and form their own conclusions," Mattera told LifeNews.com.

As LifeNews.com previously reported, Kieffer talked about her concerns regarding UST’s initial decision to cancel the speech.

“Our Catholic university has hosted two decidedly liberal speakers in the past year,” Kieffer said. "For a person in charge of Campus Life on a Catholic campus, she is closed to our efforts to present conservative and Catholic pro-life values."

Canney told Kieffer and her sister, a UST senior who also helped coordinate the scheduled event, “As long as I am a vice president at St. Thomas, the Young America’s Foundation will not be allowed on campus."

“Star Parker is enthusiastic about educating young people about abortion’s demoralizing effects, ideas which are in complete alignment with St. Thomas’ stated positions and Catholic teachings," Kieffer concluded.

ACTION: Contact UST officials and thank them for changing their position and allowing Parker to speak. Email Jane Canney at [email protected] and UST president Father Dennis Dease at [email protected].