As reported by The Cardinal Newman Society in March, Anna Maria College in Paxton, Mass., honored the wishes of Worcester Bishop Robert McManus and disinvited the widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy, his second wife, as commencement speaker because of concerns about conflicts with Catholic moral teaching. Then the College asked Bishop McManus not to attend the commencement ceremony, claiming he would be a “distraction.”
And now the College re-invited Kennedy to speak on campus, this time as part of its fall symposium on “Faith and the Public Square: Balancing Religious Beliefs with the Common Good.”
Kennedy reportedly received a standing ovation from the crowd when she stood to speak.
Kennedy, who said she grew up in Louisiana, said, “For me, Democratic politics and religion were intertwined. I didn’t see a difference between the two.”
“I grew up in the segregated South,” she said, “but I grew up to believe that that was morally wrong, and that was my Democratic Party father and mother teaching me that.”
“I’m not saying I’m the ideal Catholic,” McGovern told the audience at Anna Maria.
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He boasted of voting for abortion rights and said, “that’s how I’ve come down on this issue, and ultimately, I’ll be judged by God.”
The Rev. Andrew Genszler, director for advocacy for the Evangelical Lutheran Church in America (ELCA), was also on the podium. The ELCA website states that “developing life in the womb does not have an absolute right to be born.”
But none of that stopped Kennedy from saying, “I think we can say that everyone here is pro-life. We all want children to be brought into this world” she said. “How can we create a support network for children to be brought into this world?”
The only dissent on the panel reportedly came after Fr. Richard Reidy, canon lawyer and pastor of St. Ann’s Church in Oxford, said, “There is a truth that’s bigger than me that is out there to be discovered.”
Kennedy reportedly told him that, as a starting point, is a recipe for gridlock. “That’s a non-negotiable position,” she said. “The governing document in our government is the U.S. Constitution. That’s not to say that we can’t get to the truth you speak of in a different way.”
Anna Maria President Jack P. Calareso said in his closing remarks that bringing Kennedy to campus had been “a long and winding road.”
He added, “I can simply say as the humble president of this college, Mrs. Kennedy, it was worth the wait.”
This entry originally appeared on the blog of the Cardinal Newman Society and is reprinted with permission.