Christine Dhanagom


Catholic college cancels pro-abortion speaker

Christine Dhanagom

LORETTO, PA, September 26, 2011 ( - A Catholic University in Pennsylvania has cancelled a scheduled appearance by prominent feminist journalist Ellen Goodman after the Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) drew attention to the conflict between Goodman’s work and Catholic Church teaching on key issues.

The Catholic watchdog group reported in a blog entry that Goodman was scheduled to speak October 12th at St. Francis University in Loretto on the topic of civility in public discourse. The lecture was part of the school’s annual Furlong Lecture Series.

The blog entry detailed the history of Goodman’s outspoken support for abortion, including opposing conscience rights for pharmacists who choose not to dispense abortifacient “emergency” birth control.

She has also publicly criticized the movement to deny communion to pro-abortion politicians, which she derisively referred to as a “wafer watch” in a 2004 Boston Globe article.

Goodman’s lecture was cancelled shortly after the CNS report was published.

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In a statement sent by St. Francis to CNS, the school explained: “After careful consideration, the University felt Ms. Goodman’s body of work has reflected statements that are not in close enough alignment with some Catholic teachings and with the values and mission of the University as required for an event of this stature on the Saint Francis campus.”

Saint Francis provost Wayne Powel told the Lebanon Daily News that the school’s screening process for speakers was “broken ... in this case”

“The people who should have been looking and paying attention to who was considered by the committee didn’t do so,” Powel said. “It should have been looked at by the senior administration, including myself.”

In an email response to Powel published on, Goodman accused the university of failing to “uphold the values of academic freedom,” pointing out that her stance on abortion was shared with “over half the country.”

Goodman also added that in her 35-year career as a public speaker, she had made many speeches on Catholic campuses.

“Never before have I been cancelled for any reason, let alone for my beliefs,” she wrote.

CNS spokesman Adam Wilson praised the university’s decision in comments to LifeSiteNews.

“It would be duplicitous for a Catholic college to momentarily set aside pro-life convictions for the sake of basking in the glow of a famous person.  St. Francis University did the right thing and they should be proud of their decision,” Wilson said.


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