The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) has urged the University of San Francisco (USF)—a Jesuit, Catholic university—to cancel its invitation to pro-abortion Rep. Nancy Pelosi to deliver the university’s commencement address this Saturday. CNS also is opposing a posthumous honorary degree to pro-abortion politician Leo T. McCarthy.
“Even as we celebrate the fact that a growing number of Catholic colleges are choosing exemplary commencement speakers and honorees, we learn that the University of San Francisco has chosen a much different direction,” wrote CNS President Patrick J. Reilly in a letter faxed to USF President Rev. Stephen Privett, S.J., today. “You are publicly allying a Catholic university with leaders of what Pope John Paul II called a ‘Culture of Death.’”
CNS urged Father Privett to withdraw the Pelosi invitation and the McCarthy honor immediately. CNS also asked Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco, who is also scheduled to receive an honorary degree, to boycott the ceremony if USF refuses to change its plans.
Rep. Pelosi is a vocal advocate of abortion rights, opposing even the federal ban on partial-birth abortions and many of the most reasonable restrictions on abortion such as parental consent for minors. She supports embryonic stem cell research and human cloning for such research.
Mr. McCarthy died in February and is receiving his award posthumously as “an individual who embodies the university’s mission,” according to a USF press release. As a U.S. Senate candidate in 1988 and 1992, he pledged to write the Roe v. Wade ruling into federal law, supported federal funding for abortions and contraceptives, and advocated distribution of the abortion pill RU-486. While serving as California’s lieutenant governor from 1982 to 1984, McCarthy led states opposing a ban on abortion counseling at federally funded clinics.
For nine years CNS research has identified invited commencement speakers or honorees at Catholic colleges who have taken public positions contrary to Catholic values or teaching. This year, CNS has reported problems at 13 colleges, far fewer than the 26 colleges cited in 2006.
In June 2004, the U.S. bishops mandated: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”
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