Seton Hill College Under Fire for Pro-Obama Catholic Attorney Kmiec’s Speech

State   |   Steven Ertelt   |   Oct 26, 2008   |   9:00AM   |   WASHINGTON, DC

Seton Hill College Under Fire for Pro-Obama Catholic Attorney Kmiec’s Speech

by Steven Ertelt Editor
October 26
, 2008

Greensburg, PA ( — Another Catholic university has drawn the ire of Church officials: Seton Hill College in Pennsylvania — which invited Pepperdine University law professor Douglas Kmiec to speak. Kmiec claims a pro-life position but recently said America should be okay with legal abortion, has strongly supported Barack Obama.

After learning the college had invited Kmiec as a speaker, Bishop Lawrence Brandt of the Diocese of Greensburg issued a statement displaying his opposition and saying Kmiec “distorts Catholic teaching by making it synonymous with his own personal views.”

Bishop Brandt indicated he first learned of the event on October 21 and that Seton Hill wanted the law professor to speak on faith and political issues.

Even though Seton Hill falls under his purview, Bishop Brandt said he had difficulty getting top Seton Hill officials to respond to his criticism. Brand said he tried “in vain to reach the president of Seton Hill, Dr. JoAnne Boyle.”

Brandt takes issue with Kmiec’s claims that it is possible for Catholic voters to support Obama even though the presidential candidate’s views — supporting legal abortion throughout pregnancy for any reason — are a significant departure from Catholic teaching.

Kmiec has argued that Obama agrees with Catholics on other political issues and that those agreements are good enough reasons to support him.

“There is no ‘other’ Catholic position except the one which appears in authentic Church documents,” Bishop Brandt responded. “His misrepresentations of Catholic doctrine do a grave disservice to the Catholic community and far beyond.”

Bishop Brandt also said Seton Hill is running afoul of the document the nation’s Catholic bishops produced asking Catholic colleges and universities not to allow pro-abortion speakers on campus.

The document, “Catholics in Political Life,“ which the Catholic bishops approved nearly unanimously, says the “the Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.”

Brandt said: “I seriously question the good judgment of the University administration in allowing him a platform on campus.”

“Is it any wonder then that not only the demonstrators at the event, but many others as well, consider his presentation an offensive trivialization of the institution’s declared Catholic identity,” he added.

The Cardinal Newman Society, a watchdog for Catholic colleges and universities, commended Bishop Brandt for his strong words.

“On behalf of more than 20,000 individuals and organizations committed to the renewal of Catholic higher education, we applaud Bishop Brandt’s unequivocal defense of Catholic teaching,” CNS president Patrick Reilly told

He said: “Catholic colleges and universities must follow the guidance of the bishops when it comes to living out their Catholic identity.”

Kmiec’s speech was protested by a large group of pro-life Catholics.

The professor appears to take a "personally opposed but" position that actually allows for legal abortions despite a claim to support abortion. He betrayed his own apparently pro-abortion position when defending Obama’s abortion stance.

Kmiec employs the same kind of "abortion is between a woman, her doctor and God" argument Obama himself utilized in the third presidential debate to defend his own view supporting abortion for any reason throughout pregnancy.

ACTION: Contact Seton Hill College with your complaints by going to

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