John-Henry Westen


Loyola Honor for Abortion Advocate Rudy Guiliani Leads to Boycott by Cardinal Keeler

John-Henry Westen

keelerBALTIMORE, May 19, 2005 ( -Baltimore Cardinal William Keeler informed Loyola College of Maryland interim president David Haddad yesterday that neither he nor a representative from the archdiocese would participate in an event honoring Rudolph Giuliani, an advocate of abortion rights and probable Republican candidate for U.S. president in 2008.

The former New York City mayor has been invited to deliver Loyola’s commencement address and receive an honorary degree on Friday, May 20. Despite a planned protest on Friday and a public campaign in recent weeks by the Cardinal Newman Society (CNS) and Defend Life of Maryland urging the college to withdraw Giuliani’s invitation, Keeler’s terse letter to Haddad offers the first public glimpse at what appears to be strained relationship between the historically Catholic college and its bishop.

”[T]here will be no representative of the Archdiocese [of Baltimore] participating in any event honoring former Mayor Giuliani,” Keeler wrote in a letter dated May 18, noting that he and Haddad had an “earlier exchange of correspondence” about the college’s invitation to Giuliani. In what may be a subtle threat to Loyola College’s official recognition by the Cardinal as a Catholic institution, Keeler wrote, “I am confident that, by now, you understand many of the consequences that spring from an invitation having been extended to former Mayor Giuliani to receive an honorary degree at Loyola. May the Lord make of this event a teaching moment for many.”

CNS is protesting commencement speakers and honorees at 18 Catholic colleges and universities, noting that the invitations are a direct violation of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops statement “Catholics in Political Life.” The June 2004 statement includes the following mandate: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.” 

In a letter dated April 27, CNS urged Cardinal Keeler to “take immediate action to prevent scandal in the Archdiocese of Baltimore,” first by privately communicating with Loyola College, but without “waiting until it is too late to inform the public that the invitation is in direct conflict with the U.S. bishops’ statement and the Church’s expectations for Catholic colleges and universities.” CNS also noted Keeler’s authority to determine whether Loyola could remain an officially Catholic institution:

“While our mission is the renewal of Catholic identity at Catholic colleges and universities, we realize that the enforcement of Ex Corde Ecclesiae may require the declaration that an institution is no longer Catholic, and we support such action if Loyola College obstinately refuses to acknowledge your pastoral authority as bishop and to uphold the Church’s fundamental teachings,” CNS wrote.

The public action by Keeler comes soon after pro-abortion Rep. Sherwood Boehlert voluntarily turned down an invitation to deliver the commencement address at St. Elizabeth’s College of Nursing in Utica, New York, this Saturday. Even though Bishop James Moynihan of the Diocese of Syracuse had privately opposed the invitation to Boehlert, which violated a diocesan ban on such speakers at Catholic institutions, it was Boehlert who turned down the invitation because of planned protests by pro-life activists, similar to the Loyola protest planned for Friday.

CNS also successfully protested Marymount Manhattan College’s invitation to pro-abortion Sen. Hillary Clinton to receive an honorary degree and deliver the commencement address this Saturday, May 20. In response to significant media attention to the protest, the highly secularized college ended its official recognition by the Archdiocese of New York as a Catholic institution.

The CNS protest against Villanova University in Pennsylvania, which has invited Ireland President Mary McAleese to deliver the commencement address and receive an honorary degree on Sunday, has both outraged and energized Irish citizens with considerable coverage in the Irish media. McAleese has been a public advocate of women’s ordination, including strident criticism of the Vatican and supporters of the Church’s firm teaching on the male priesthood.

Archbishop Alfred Hughes of New Orleans publicly chastised Loyola University of New Orleans for honoring two politicians, U.S. Sen. Mary Landrieu and Louisiana Lt. Gov. Mitchell Landrieu, who have voted for abortion rights. Archbishop Hughes refused to attend Loyola’s commencement ceremony last weekend, as planned.

Loyola’s commencement ceremony featuring Giuliani is scheduled for 9 a.m. on Friday morning, when he will be greeted by protesters outside the First Mariner Arena in Baltimore. Leaders of the protest will hold a press conference in support of Cardinal Keeler and opposing Loyola College’s invitation to Giuliani tomorrow, May 19, at 11:30 a.m. outside the Archdiocese of Baltimore Chancellery, 320 Cathedral Street, Baltimore, MD 21201.

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