Bishop David Ricken of the Diocese of Green Bay released a statement today at The Compass News expressing his “strong disapproval” of the decision of St. Norbert College to host pro-abortion rights speaker Gloria Steinem for a presentation this April, as first reported by The Cardinal Newman Society.
The College, located in De Pere, Wis., is planning to host and give a platform—reportedly about domestic violence—to Steinem during a week-long residency by another abortion-rights activist, Bell Hooks. Despite her conspicuous support for abortion rights, Steinem was described as “a key historical figure and founder of the women’s movement” in the St. Norbert press release.
“As bishop, I have the responsibility to ensure the Catholic identity of the Catholic colleges in our diocese,” writes Bishop Ricken in his statement. “Even though Gloria Steinem has appeared at St. Norbert College before my time as the bishop of this diocese, and acknowledging that she has appeared at other Catholic colleges and universities, I do not approve of the appearance of Gloria Steinem at St. Norbert College. “
Indeed, Bishop Ricken says that he has communicated his “strong disapproval to the abbot, the president of the college and the chair of the Board of Trustees.”
“I find the invitation of Steinem to be quite mystifying,” the bishop writes. He poses the question: “why would St. Norbert, a Catholic college, invite someone who is such a high profile and well-known protagonist and activist of abortion rights to weigh in on the causes and contexts of a dramatic increase in domestic violence in the United States?”
“Unless [Steinem] has radically changed her position on abortion, which I hope she has, the connection of abortion rights to the feminist agenda is a sad one and calls into question the logic of such an enterprise,” he writes.
Bishop Ricken continues:
The reason her position ought to be called into question is that it is an internal self-contradiction. One cannot build one’s claim to a right based upon the denial of another’s fundamental right to life. One cannot really advance the rights of women while taking the life of an innocent child in the womb. One cannot protest domestic violence outside the womb and be in favor of violence and denial of life in the home of the womb. Therefore, the good she might be doing is seriously compromised by her own positions and actions… For some reason, the SNC leadership community cannot see or does not want to admit this internal contradiction.
Steinem reportedly helped to popularize the phrase, “if men could get pregnant, abortion would be a sacrament.” And according to a 2011 interview in The Guardian, she described her own abortion as a “positive” experience and an example of taking “responsibility for [her] own life.”
In a 2013 interview in The Washington Post, Steinem reportedly stated, “Approximately one in three women in this country needs an abortion at some time in her life. It should be a part of reproductive rights.” And Steinem reportedly helped to advance “abortion-on-demand [as much] as any single person in the last half century.”
Additionally, Bell Hooks’ position on abortion is evident in her book Feminism is For Everybody, in which she maintains that “without the right to safe, inexpensive, and free abortions [women] lose all control over their bodies.” She also claimed that “one cannot be anti-abortion and an advocate of feminism.”
According to Hooks, apparently pro-life values and feminism are mutually exclusive. This was clearly on display in her article, “Our Bodies, Ourselves: Reproductive Rights,” in which she sought to persuade readers to adopt the view that abortion is a right. She reportedly argues that abortion is one of the reproductive rights that women are entitled to.
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Bishop Ricken says in his statement, “How refreshing it would be if St. Norbert College were to decide to be a vibrant Catholic College that embraces the church and her teaching in its entirety, not just the social justice teachings… but also the doctrinal and moral teaching of the Gospel and the church.”
“I understand that Gloria Steineim will not speak about abortion,” Bishop Ricken continued. However, he argues, “she doesn’t need to.” Indeed, “[h]er whole career and life is a grand affirmation of the pro-abortion movement.”
Furthermore, Bishop Ricken said that “[t]he invitation of Ms. Steinem gives the impression that the college may be merely giving lip service to the fundamental value of every human life instead of embracing the ‘Gospel of Life’ with a clear intentionality.”
Reprinted with permission from The Cardinal Newman Society.