PAXTON, MASSACHUSETTS, March 30, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Members of the Kennedy clan may be shoo-ins for every office in the state of Massachusetts, but they are not guaranteed access to young Catholic minds.
Anna Maria College in Paxton uninvited Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of Sen. Ted Kennedy, after Bishop Robert J. McManus said her positions on abortion, homosexuality, and the Obama administration’s mandate on insurance coverage for abortifacient contraception and sterilization were incompatible with Catholic teaching.
The college said in a press release that it obeyed the bishop “with great regret,” saying that “as a small, Catholic college that relies heavily on the good will of its relationship with the Bishop and the larger Catholic community, its options are limited.”
A spokesman for the college told the media Kennedy deserved high marks for her work on behalf of “gun control.”
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The backlash from liberal Catholics against the decision was swift.
Steve Krueger, chairman of the Catholic Democrats, said, “Increasingly, we see more and more bishops playing the role of enforcers of the faith rather than shepherds of souls, because they squandered the trust that they once had and the authority that came with it.”
Sister Janet Eisner, president of Emmanuel College, which gave Vicki an honorary degree in 2010, said, “I find it hard to believe in Massachusetts, in 2012, that this is happening.”
Kennedy responded in a press release, saying of the bishop, “by objecting to my appearance at Anna Maria College he has made a judgment about my worthiness as a Catholic. This is a sad day for me and an even sadder one for the Church I love.”
Some claimed the bishop had been pressured by an undisclosed “wealthy donor,” an assertion the diocese forcefully rejected. Spokesman Ray Delisle told local media, “it doesn’t take a donor to convince the bishops to act on their principles.” Patrick Whelan, president of Catholic Democrats, said the bishop told him, “This is my decision and mine alone, and nobody’s pressuring me to do this.”
He said the bishop added, “sometimes it’s lonely at the top.”
“We would want Bishop McManus to know that there’s a multitude of Catholics who would support his decision,” Adam Wilson, director of communications at the Cardinal Newman Society, a Catholic higher education watchdog organization, told LifeSiteNews.com. “Just three years ago, more than 367,000 people signed The Cardinal Newman Society’s ‘Notre Dame Scandal’ petition in support of the bishops’ speakers policy, which the Worcester diocese just referenced.” That scandal involved Notre Dame’s invitation for President Barack Obama to serve as commencement speaker in 2009 and to receive an honorary law degree.
Today’s dust-up was not Kennedy’s first brush with a faithful Church hierarchy. In 2004, she wrote an op-ed for The Washington Post entitled, “The Altar is Not a Battlefield,” which called depriving pro-abortion politicians (such as her husband) Communion a “harsh penalty” that was “flawed and intellectually dishonest.” A month later, the Vatican codified this policy in “Worthiness to Receive,” authored by then-Cardinal Joseph Ratzinger.
The Church had forbidden Ted Kennedy from receiving Communion in 1983, following his divorce from his first wife, Joan. According to his biographer Adam Clymer, he received an annulment “10 or 11 years” later. He married Victoria in 1992. She had interned for him in 1976.
Kennedy is still scheduled to address Boston College’s law school commencement later this year.