Archbishop reacts after historically Catholic, black university honors Eric Holder and Mary Landrieu
NEW ORLEANS, March 6, 2015 (LifeSiteNews.com) – The Catholic archbishop of New Orleans has spoken out against a Catholic university for honoring outgoing Attorney General Eric Holder and former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, among others.
"I am saddened to inform you that some of those to be honored do not represent the values and teachings of the Catholic Church," Archbishop Gregory Aymond wrote to Xavier University of Louisiana, a Catholic university, the same day the speakers were revealed. "I was not consulted on the proposed candidates and remain disappointed in this decision by the university administration."
The archbishop did not identify who among the speakers he was taking issue with in a February 20 letter to Xavier University of Louisiana, but in terms of abortion and contraception, three of the four honorees have all opposed positions held by the Church.
U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder's Department of Justice has been criticized for aggressively targeting pro-lifers and for giving the IRS a pass on targeting social conservatives. As Attorney General, Holder defended the ObamaCare HHS Mandate forcing employers to provide and fund contraceptives in their health plans.
Former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu consistently voted for abortion-on-demand. Landrieu, who is described by the university as a “long standing civil servant and agent of change,” was the speaker Xavier President Norman Francis speculated Archbishop Aymond had a problem with, according to a local media report.
A Roman Catholic, she opposed the 2012-proposed Respect for Rights of Conscience Act, which would secure Catholic organizations' conscience rights, and she was part of a group of senators supporting legislation that would overturn the Supreme Court's Hobby Lobby decision that upheld employers’ right not to pay for abortion-inducing drugs under ObamaCare's HHS mandate.
"Although I personally believe that life begins at conception, I believe the last place the government needs to be is in the church, in the doctor’s office, or in the bedroom,” Landrieu said.
"Some of the bills being passed around the country are just very intrusive to personal decisions and very harmful to women and girls, you know, to their physical health and life,” she said. “It’s a shame.”
She opposed fetal pain legislation, saying that “20 weeks is not the norm for being able to live outside of a hospital.”
Basketball star Earvin “Magic” Johnson, the L.A. Lakers legend who has been HIV-positive for more than 20 years, has advocated for HIV/AIDS prevention and so-called “safe sex,” which entails condom use.
Founded by St. Katharine Drexel and the Sisters of the Blessed Sacrament, the school is America’s only historically black and Catholic university, according to the Xavier website. And the university is standing by its choices.
“Four distinguished national servant leaders from differing professions will share life lessons with graduates,” the university news release stated. Each will receive an honorary degree.
In his letter, Archbishop Aymond cited the 2004 USCCB document Catholics in Political Life when recently writing Xavier, which says the Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not publicly honor those who oppose the teachings of the Church.
“They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions,” the US Bishops’ document says.
The bishops’ statement specifically addresses lawmakers, saying, “Those who formulate law therefore have an obligation in conscience to work toward correcting morally defective laws, lest they be guilty of cooperating in evil and in sinning against the common good.”
Xavier responded this week via a statement that says it stands by its choices.
The school called the speakers "leaders who have made extraordinary contributions to humanity," – while saying at the same time Xavier remains committed to its Catholic identity. The administration said it based its selection of speakers on the honorees' "individual accomplishments and steadfast commitments, especially in the area of civil rights and social justice."
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Xavier University’s commencement is scheduled for Saturday, May 9.
Archbishop Aymond has a history of advocating for the Catholic position on public issues and standing up to dissenting Catholic organizations and institutions. He was part of recent public outcry against a new Planned Parenthood in New Orleans, leading a boycott.
He also wrote to St. Edwards University, a Catholic academic institution in Austin, Texas in 2007 when he was bishop there, criticizing the school for hosting a dissident theologian.