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By Meg Jalsevac

  WORCESTER, Massachusetts, October 11, 2007 ( –  Worcester’s Catholic bishop, Bishop Robert J. McManus, has issued a frank condemnation of the decision by the local Jesuit-run College of the Holy Cross to rent their facilities for a conference featuring NARAL and Planned Parenthood workshops.

Bishop McManus has issued a scathing statement confirming that he has requested that college President, Rev. Michael C. McFarland rescind the invitation based on the conference’s fundamental differences with Catholic moral teaching.

  As previously reported by, the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy is scheduled to use the conference facilities at the Catholic college for their annual Teen Pregnancy Institute on October 24.  The conference schedule includes workshops featuring a Planned Parenthood representative discussing “protection methods” and a similar NARAL update on initiatives to provide teen access to “low-cost, confidential health services and Emergency Contraception.”  Pro-abortion Governor Patrick Deval will be honored with a leadership award at the conference.  

  According to the local chancery, hundreds of complaints were received from Catholics around the country voicing outrage at Holy Cross’ facilitation of a conference which so openly opposed the basic moral teachings of the Catholic Church on the sanctity of human life.

  The bishop’s statement maintained that the complaints were justified since, “The College of the Holy Cross should recognize that any association with these groups can create the situation of offering scandal understood in its proper theological sense, i.e., an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil.  Certainly it is understandable how people of good will could interpret the college’s allowing presentations to be made by such groups as truly scandalous.”

“The moral teaching of the Catholic Church on respect for life at all stages of its development is manifestly clear.  Life is a fundamental good that must be protected and respected from the moment of fertilization to natural death.  This teaching is so basic and important that it provides the foundation upon which much of the Church’s moral and social doctrine rests.  It is beyond modification and compromise.”

  Holy Cross officials have replied that they will not rescind the invitation despite a host of complaints flooding their offices from alumni and others across the country.  Officials explained that “Holy Cross in no way supports or endorses Planned Parenthood, NARAL, or other organizations that engage in or promote practices contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church.” 

  However, the bishop’s statement denied the possibility of this position saying, “I strongly contend that the confusion and upset to the Catholic faithful and others that flow from the perception that the administration of the College of the Holy Cross supports positions contrary to the fundamental moral teaching of the Church must be avoided.”

“To deny Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice a forum in which to present their morally unacceptable positions is not an infringement of the exercise of academic freedom but a defensible attempt to make unambiguously clear the Catholic identity and mission of the College of the Holy Cross.”

  President McFarland explained his decision to continue to allow the conference to take place while also attempting to explain that Holy Cross “fully affirms and promotes” the sanctity of human life.  He continued to justify his decision in opposition to the bishop’s statement saying, “Beyond the contractual obligation, it is important to emphasize that the college believes a meeting of adult professionals pooling resources, engaging in a dialogue and exchanging information is a beneficial way of grappling with pressing issues related to the health and well-being of Massachusetts teenagers and children.”

“As an institution of higher learning, we are dedicated to the open exchange of ideas. As a Jesuit college, Holy Cross is committed to its mission of engaging with the larger culture on even the most problematic and divisive of moral and spiritual issues.”

  As the leader of his flock, Bishop McManus issued a warning to the Catholic college saying, “As Bishop of Worcester, it is my pastoral and canonical responsibility to determine what institutions can properly call themselves ‘Catholic.’  This is a duty that I do not take lightly since to be a Catholic institution means that such an institution conducts its mission and ministry in accord with Catholic Church teaching, especially in cases of faith and morals.”

“It is my fervent wish that the administration of the College of the Holy Cross will unequivocally disassociate itself from the upcoming conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy so that the college can continue to be recognized as a Catholic institution committed to promoting the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church.”

  Read Bishop McManus’ entire statement:

  Read Previous coverage:

  Holy Cross College Hosts on-Campus Planned Parenthood Workshops, Awards Pro-Abortion Governor