Jesuit-run Boston College to host Ted Kennedy’s widow, despite Catholic objections

The college's Law Dean called Victoria Reggie Kennedy a “a powerful advocate for the powerless on issues such as gun control and education.”
Wed May 16, 2012 - 4:15 pm EST

CHESTNUT HILL, MASSACHUSETTS, May 18, 2012, ( - Boston College Law School has confirmed it will ask the late Sen. Ted Kennedy’s widow to deliver its commencement address on May 25. The news comes only weeks after Bishop Robert J. McManus’ decision, widely reported in the news, to ask Anna Maria College in Paxton, Massachusetts to disinvite Kennedy from a scheduled appearance, citing her views contrary to Catholic teaching.

The Cardinal Newman Society’s Campus Notes blog reports that Boston College’s law school has confirmed it will not change its plans to host Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the late Democratic senator’s second wife. In a statement posted to the college’s website on Friday, Boston College law Dean Vincent Rougeau called Kennedy a “a powerful advocate for the powerless on issues such as gun control and education, among many others.”

But critics question Kennedy’s appropriateness for the venue because of her positions on abortion, same-sex “marriage,” and birth control. Kennedy is also a board member of Catholic Democrats and wrote the preface for the group’s booklet, “The Catholic Case for Obama.”

Kennedy also argued against excommunicating pro-abortion politicians in a 2004 Washington Post editorial, writing that voting to keep abortion legal was not equivalent to direct participation in abortion and accusing excommunication supporters of misrepresenting canon law.

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Responding to Anna Marie College’s decision to rescind a similar invitation to Kennedy in late March, Worcester Diocese spokesman Ray Delisle reiterated the bishops’ view that giving Kennedy such a distinguished platform would in effect legitimize her un-Catholic positions. “Catholic institutions should not be honoring Catholics who take positions publicly which are contrary to the Catholic faith’s most fundamental principles,” he said, “particularly on the dignity of life from conception and the sanctity of marriage.”

In a statement to, Cardinal Newman Society President Patrick Riley concurred: “Bishop McManus in Worcester was clearly correct that Victoria Kennedy is an inappropriate choice for a Catholic college. Boston College ought to follow the example of Anna Maria College.”

Pope Benedict XVI recently spoke out about the importance of reforming Catholic universities to more faithfully embody and promote Catholic principles, noting that too often they fail to “challenge students to reappropriate their faith” in an increasingly secular culture.

  boston college, victoria reggie kennedy

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