By Meg Jalsevac
WASHINGTON, DC, September 21, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) - LifeSiteNews.com reported last week that Catholic University of America’s (CUA) newspaper ‘The Tower’ had revealed that the College Democrats at CUA had received the necessary permission from the administration and subsequently invited pro-abortion Senator Kerry to lecture at the University.
In its current issue released just today, The Tower newspaper is now reporting that according to both the Senator’s congressional office and the College Democrats, "Sen. John Kerry will not speak at the University this semester due to scheduling conflicts[…]
Mark Arnone, president of the College Democrats at CUA, had initially been forbidden by officials at the University Center, Student Programs and Events (UCSPE) to invite the pro-abortion senator to lecture. However, after appealing the decision with a six page explanation on the reasons why Kerry should be allowed, Arnone received permission from UCSPE director Bill Jonas.
According to The Tower, Jonas stated that he had been trying to employ a "common sense approach" in his decision but acknowledged that "[s]ome people are going to see that John Kerry is speaking at Catholic University and be angry about it. We have to find a balance."
LifeSiteNews attempted multiple times to contact Jonas’ office for clarification of his decision in light of the 2004 USCCB directive for Catholic Universities to refuse "awards, honors or platforms" to individuals who openly defy Catholic "fundamental moral principles."
While no response was ever received from Jonas’ office, LifeSiteNew did receive an answer to a similar question from Victor Nakas, Associate Vice President for Public Affairs. Mr. Nakas claimed that Senator Kerry was never issued a "formal" invitation but that "[t]he College Democrats decided to explore the possibility of inviting Senator Kerry."
Nakas however, explained that a Kerry lecture at CUA would not be a contradiction to the USCCB policy. "Unfortunately, some people are misinterpreting the bishops’ statement on Catholic politicians. We verified with the bishops themselves that the intent of the statement was to refuse a platform to speakers who would be invited to speak on those specific issues for which they hold positions that are at variance with the fundamental moral teachings of the Catholic Church (emphasis in original email).
Nakas continued, "This means, for example, that we would be violating the letter and the intent of the bishops’ statement were we to invite Sen. Kerry to speak on abortion. However, we would not be violating the letter and the spirit of the bishops’ statement were we to permit the College Democrats to invite Sen. Kerry to speak on the environment or the Iraq war."
The Tower had previously reported that Kerry was invited to specifically address the issues of the environment and the Iraq war.
The Kerry lecture would not have been held as an officially school sponsored event. While the administration had to approve the speaker choice, the cost of the event would have been paid by the College Democrats who were to organize and host the lecture. However, funding for the political group comes, at least in part, from a student activity fee that all CUA students are required to pay each year.
Personnel in Senator Kerry’s office would not comment on his schedule to LifeSiteNews. According to The Tower article, Kerry’s Deputy Press Secretary Liz Richardson, said that "He would love to come visit some time in the future" but that his current schedule had not allowed him to officially confirm the CUA lecture this semester.
As is frequently done in such cases, the earlier LifeSiteNews story encouraged our readers to contact officials at Catholic University to express concern over such a prominent pro-abortion personality having a platform at a Catholic educational institution.
Upon doing so, one LifeSiteNews reader was surprised to receive a terse email in response from Frank Persico, Vice President for University Relations and Chief of Staff simply stating "[Kerry] has never been invited."
Mr. Persico’s denial of the invitation is especially puzzling when considered in light of the fact that both Mark Arnone, president of CUA’s College Democrats and Senator Kerry’s office had previously acknowledged that they were working together to decide on a mutually acceptable date for the lecture.
One University source suggested that the administration’s denial of the invitation was based on a mere technicality. While the invitation had been approved, and communicated to Kerry’s office for consideration, a formal invitation with an event date had not been sent.
Nakas’ response would seem to confirm this. According to Nakas, "The lecture was never cancelled because it was never scheduled in the first place" because a "formal" invitation was never sent.
However, the recently announced cancellation of the lecture implies that an invitation was extended and, at least tentatively, accepted. Without an invitation, there would be no need for a cancellation. There would also be no need for comments about Mr. Kerry’s scheduling conflict.
Multiple calls and emails placed over the course of three days to Mr. Persico’s office by LifeSiteNews were not returned by press time.
Read Previous LifeSiteNews.com coverage:
Pro-Abortion John Kerry to Speak at Catholic University of America
Pro-Abortion Kerry’s Lecture Cancelled at CUA Due to “Scheduling Conflict”
By Meg Jalsevac
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