In a radio interview today, Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Reilly praised Duquesne University for withdrawing its invitation to FOX News journalist Geraldo Rivera to take part in a conference because he “tweeted” a racy picture of himself in July.
But Reilly told Relevant Radio host Drew Mariani that he has two concerns, overlooked by the secular and Catholic media.
“Duquesne University was courageous in disinviting Rivera to speak at the University,” Reilly explained following the interview. “But why was Rivera invited to speak on campus in the first place, given his public opposition to Catholic teaching on abortion and marriage? And why did a serious Catholic university attempt to get cheap publicity by inviting a self-promoting actor to an academic conference?”
The upcoming October conference is sponsored by Duquesne’s Wecht Institute of Science and Law, and it will mark the 50thanniversary of the assassination of President John F. Kennedy. Conference organizer Benjamin Wecht told the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette, “Geraldo was invited because, when we decided to look closely at the media’s role, he was someone with long experience in that capacity and would also be a bit of a draw on attendance.”
After canceling Rivera at the request of the University administration, the Institute announced another celebrity speaker: director Oliver Stone, whose 1991 movie “JFK” was criticized by experts for alleged distortions and inaccuracies.
Catholic colleges have wrestled in the past with efforts to secure publicity and secular prestige while appearing to disregard their Catholic identity and serious academic discourse. Controversies include commencement ceremonies featuring President Barack Obama at the University of Notre Dame, health secretary Kathleen Sebelius at Georgetown University, and Irish Prime Minister Enda Kenny at Boston College.
Often these speakers oppose Catholic teaching on abortion or same-sex marriage, but Rivera is opposed to Catholics on both issues. In February, Rivera reportedly told the Huffington Post that standing against same-sex marriage and making no exceptions in terms of abortion were “crazy positions to have in this day and age.” He reportedly said on Fox News regarding abortion, “I believe in choice—not obscenely—but I believe in Roe v. Wade.”
Reilly told Relevant Radio that despite these concerns about Duquesne’s invitation to Rivera, the University was “courageous” in disinviting him for the vulgar tweet. Reilly also encouraged Catholics to praise Catholic institutions when they take such actions in support of their Catholic identity.
Duquesne determined that Rivera’s tweet was “inappropriate and inconsistent with who we are as a Catholic University,” according to University spokeswoman Bridget Fare. She told the Post-Gazette, “We warn our students not to put anything inappropriate on social media because of potential consequences– you could consider this teaching by example.”
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