AUSTIN, Texas, April 12, 2011 (LifeSiteNews.com) – For the second time in his one year tenure as head of the Austin diocese, Bishop Joe Vasquez cancelled an event that would have placed an outspoken pro-abortion advocate at center stage in a Catholic Church.
The diocese announced last week that a public meeting about immigration scheduled for this past weekend would no longer be held at Christo Rey Church in Austin, TX, due to the pro-abortion record of scheduled speaker Rep. Luis Gutierrez, an Illinois Democrat.
The announcement parallels the September cancellation of a Yom Kippur service, which was to be held at St. Louis Catholic Church in Austin. The service was cancelled the day after LifeSiteNews ran an investigative report drawing attention to the fact that Rabbi Alan Freedman, who was scheduled to lead the service, was on the Board of Directors for Planned Parenthood of Austin.
The scheduled speaker at the event at Christo Rey has been given a 100% rating by the National Abortion Rights Action League and a 0% rating by the National Right to Life Committee for his consistently pro-abortion voting record.
Gutierrez also introduced an immigration bill in December of 2009, the Uniting American Families Act, which would have allowed homosexuals to legally bring their partners into the United States.
According to the Chicago Tribune, Gutierrez said that there was a need to “build bridges between the LGBT community and the larger immigrant community.”
According to an American-Statesman report, organizers were informed of last week’s decision by diocesan vicar general Msgr. Mike Sis, who spoke with members of the organizing committee, and agreed to pay the cost of moving the event from Christo Rey to a nearby community recreation center.
“The meeting is not being changed because the bishop has changed his stance on immigration,” said Diocesan spokesman Christian Gonzalez. “The issue is that Gutierrez has consistently voted in favor of pro-choice issues, and as the Catholic Church, we cannot support that.”
Bishop Vasquez was in Washington last Wednesday, joining nine other bishops to express support for both prolife legislation and immigration reform, among other issues, said Gonzalez.
News of the bishop’s decision was greeted with dismay by event organizer Emilio Zamora, who called it “capricious and disappointing,” according to the American-Statesman.
The newspaper reported that a protest was held last Thursday outside the diocesan office, with former Austin Mayor Gus Garcia in attendance, along with local activists and a handful of Catholic parishioners.
A phone call to the diocese seeking comment was not returned as of press time.