PIERRE, SD, May 14, 2008 ( – Presentation College in South Dakota, a Catholic institution, withdrew its invitation to a pro-abortion commencement speaker and instead invited the local Catholic bishop to address graduates last weekend.

Nancy Turbak Berry, a state senator, was reportedly told by college officials that they had made an “administrative decision” to withdraw the invitation because her pro-abortion views were incompatible with Catholic Church teachings. Bishop Paul Swain of the Diocese of Sioux Falls gave the commencement address to the 171 graduating students instead.

Patrick J. Reilly, President of The Cardinal Newman Society (CNS), applauded the move: “Presentation College has honored its Catholic identity and has demonstrated respect for the dignity of human life by reversing its selection of a vocal abortion advocate for public honor. Faithful Catholic students, parents and alumni across the country are grateful to Sister Lorraine Hale for withdrawing Senator Berry’s invitation.”

As reported in a Boston Globe article on Monday, CNS has identified a declining number of scandalous speakers at Catholic colleges over the past three years. CNS will release a list of 2008 commencement speakers later this week.

In February, CNS and a coalition of 17 Catholic organizations endorsed a Statement of Principles Regarding Catholic Institutions, Sanctity of Life and Political Engagement. The Statement urges Catholic institutions to “refrain from all activities that provide a public platform to, or imply support or even neutrality toward, political leaders and candidates who advocate positions on serious moral issues that are clearly contrary to Catholic teaching.”

For coverage on the Statement of Principles Regarding Catholic Institutions, Sanctity of Life and Political Engagement see:


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