Major US Catholic University Caught Deceiving Diocese: Diocese Losing Patience

Vice-chancellor of archdiocese states, "there's a Catholic ethos in this town that rightly smells a rat"


By Meg Jalsevac

  OMAHA, September 11, 2007 ( - Just a few weeks ago, LifeSiteNews and several online blogs reported on Creighton University’s shameful invitation, and then hasty ‘disinvitation’ of ardently pro-abortion and pro-euthanasia speaker, Ann Lamott.  According to several recent news reports, the hasty ‘statement’ published on the University website to announce the cancellation has not appeased the powers that be at the Catholic Archdiocese of Omaha.

  The official Creighton statement announcing the lecture cancellation on the University’s website is quoted in part saying, "After careful review of Ms. Lamott’s most recent writings (which postdated her contract agreement), we have concluded that key points are in opposition to Catholic teaching which, in our judgment, makes her an inappropriate choice for the Women and Health Lecture Series."

  Reverend Joseph Taphorn, chancellor for the Omaha archdiocese, took issue with such an assertion.  "Everybody knew what they were getting so it is hard to understand a last minute disinvitation.  All you have to do is put the name in Google and you see what she believes." 

  Creighton’s President and Jesuit priest, John P. Schlegel, S.J. penned a memo last week to his colleagues, supposedly justifying the cancellation.  Schlegel,s memo reiterates that the decision was made after seeing only the newest material produced by Ann Lamott.  "The decision to cancel the lecture was not the result of outside pressure from any group. I made this decision last Friday, August 24, after prayerful reflection upon reading from her latest book, the publication of which post-dated the invitation and in discussion with Amy Haddad, director of the Center for Health Policy and Ethics.

  Rev. Schlegel goes on to disparagingly dismiss the ‘bloggers’ influence on his decision saying "To put it more frankly: my reflection on this question started well before the bloggers latched upon the invitation," while applauding Ms. Lamott for her outspokenness on issues. "I certainly respect [Lamott’s] right to express those views, and admire her frankness in doing so[…]"

  He referred to her belief in assisted suicide as "troubling" but insists that his misgivings only stemmed from her most recent work.  As reported in, Lamott had openly admitted and documented her direct participation in helping a terminally ill friend kill himself as early as June 2006.

  According to the local Lincoln Journal Star, Lamott’s own booking agent, Steven Barclay, stands by a different story that that issued from the desk of President Schlegel.  Barclay claims that university officials originally confirmed Lamott’s lecture but requested that she not speak about assisted suicide and abortion. Barclay unapologetically stated, "It’s very evident what her work stands for."

  This is not the first time that Creighton and the archdiocese have come head to head on ethical issues.  Earlier this year, the archdiocese severed its relationship with the Creighton’s Center for Marriage and Family for its proposal in support of premarital cohabitation.

  Vice-chancellor of the archdiocese, Reverend Ryan Lewis, commented on Creighton’s deception saying, "If you are seeing a pattern, you are seeing correctly."  He expressed appreciation that "there’s a Catholic ethos in this town that rightly smells a rat."

  While Reverend Taphorn would not comment on whether the archdiocese would consider removing the status of "Catholic University" from Creighton, Rev. Lewis acknowledged that "Catholic Omaha is starting to lose patience with some of this stuff."

  Schlegel concluded his colleague memorandum encouraging all faculty to "pursue truth as he or she conceives of it."  He also concluded with an assurance for the Creighton community: "I know that many of you will be concerned that the logical end of this position is that we will never have a sponsored speaker other than ones by those who agree in every respect with Church teaching. I understand and respect that concern and can assure that it is manifestly not my intent to impose uniformity of this sort. Questions of these kinds are difficult and laden with context."

  Over the past years, Schlegel’s philosophy seems to have been employed in deciding on past lecturers at the University.  In 1995, The Women & Health Lecture Series featured feminist and ardent abortion supporter, Susan Sherwin, PhD as she presented her lecture entitled "Exploring the Ethical Dimensions of Women’s Role in Medical Research." 

  The lecture series also gave platform to former Nebraska Senator Debra Suttle who was well-known for her work in trying to pass legislation that would have mandated insurance companies pay for artificial contraception.  Her efforts were widely opposed by pro-life forces in the area and were ultimately defeated.

  Read the entire Lincoln Journal Star article:

  Read Schleger’s complete memo at ‘The Cafeteria is Closed’

  View the entire List of Speakers at the Creighton Center for Health Policy & Ethics - Women & Health Issues

  Read Previous LifeSiteNews Coverage:

  Archbishop Severs Ties with University’s Center for Marriage and Family over Sex Before Marriage Proposal

  Blogger’s Posting of Catholic University’s Invite to Abortion/Euthanasia Activist Results in Cancellation 

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