May 4, 2009 ( – King’s College in Wilkes-Barre, Penn. and the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., both Catholic colleges, have invited Senator Robert P. Casey, Jr., to be a commencement speaker and honoree despite the public reprimand of Senator Casey by his bishop, Bishop Joseph Martino of the Diocese of Scranton.
“Catholic institutions have a unique responsibility to be strong public witnesses for Catholic values, and that commitment should be reflected in their selection of commencement speakers and honorees,” said Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS).  “The choice of Senator Casey, whose actions have been publicly questioned by his own bishop, seems contrary to that high standard,”
Bishop Joseph Martino of the Scranton Diocese has made public statements in recent months holding Casey—who is Catholic and campaigned as pro-life on abortion—accountable to Catholic teaching and asking Casey to reflect on whether he should be receiving the Eucharist at Mass.  Bishop Martino was critical earlier this year of Casey’s vote opposing an amendment to reinstate the pro-life Mexico City Policy, which prohibits federal funds to groups that promote or perform abortions.  Just last week, Bishop Martino scolded Casey for his vote to confirm pro-abortion Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services.
In reaction to the Sebelius vote, the Diocese published a statement which reads in part:
“Despite his claims of being ‘pro-life,’ Sen. Casey’s voting record thus far has been inconsistent.
“On the one hand, Sen. Casey is to be commended for initiatives that provide support for pregnant women and families. And Bishop Martino is grateful for the Senator’s recent vote for an amendment that would have provided conscience protection on abortion for health care workers. (Regrettably, the amendment was defeated in the Senate.)
“On the other hand, Sen. Casey voted to rescind the Mexico City Policy, thus ensuring that American taxpayer funds go to organizations abroad dedicated to performing and promoting abortions even in cultures that are opposed to them. The result is that abortion becomes the preferred means for reducing family size in developing nations. Neither the Helms Amendment nor any other U.S. legislation prevents that.
“He also voted for the appointment of Harvard Law School Dean Elena Kagan as solicitor general. Ms. Kagan supports partial-birth abortion and opposed withdrawing federal funds from taxpayer-funded abortion clinics despite popular opposition. She opposed funding teen-pregnancy counseling by religious institutions. As solicitor general, she is likely to oppose the Federal Defense of Marriage Act, thus opening the door to legislation allowing same-sex marriage.
“And now Sen. Casey has joined with his colleagues to put Gov. Sebelius in charge of building a new health care system in the United States. Her well-established pro-abortion track record provides ample evidence for the anti-life decisions she will make in this key position.”
Bishop Martino is now calling the decision of King’s College, a Congregation of the Holy Cross-sponsored institution in the Scranton Diocese, “an affront to all who value the sanctity of life.”  The bishop said that Sen. Casey lacks “the moral stature” to properly address the challenges faced by the graduates.  King’s College plans to award Sen. Casey an honorary doctorate at commencement on May 17.
The College of the Holy Cross, a Jesuit institution, has also announced plans to honor and provide commencement platform to Sen. Casey on May 22, 2009.
Over the past few months, many U.S. bishops have reinforced the 2004 USCCB statement, “Catholics in Political Life” in their opposition to Notre Dame’s intended honor for pro-abortion President Barack Obama.  The statement reads: “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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