VILLANOVA, PA, March 14, 2008 ( – In another example of a Catholic university hosting a pro-abortion political figure, Michelle Obama spoke before 2,500 people at a political rally for her husband, Democratic presidential candidate Barak Obama, at Villanova University’s Jake Nevin Fieldhouse on March 13. 

Mrs. Obama, an abortion advocate, endorsed partial-birth abortion in a 2004 fundraising letter for her husband.  Senator Obama supports Roe v. Wade, partial-birth abortion and embryonic stem cell research.  He has voted against parental notification and for increased contraceptive funding for teenagers.

Joseph A. Esposito, director of the Cardinal Newman Society’s Center for the Study of Catholic Higher Education, said, “The Obamas’ record on abortion is clear and unequivocal.  We are disappointed with Villanova University.  For a Catholic university to provide a platform for a pro-abortion figure in the midst of a political campaign is simply wrong.”

The Cardinal Newman Society had a lead role in drafting a “Statement of Principles Regarding Catholic Institutions, Sanctity of Life and Political Engagement” last month.  The statement was endorsed by 18 major Catholic organizations, including the Cardinal Newman Society, Catholics United for the Faith, the Catholic League for Religious and Civil Rights and the Fellowship of Catholic University Students.

The statement reads, in part, “We call on Catholic institutions to join us in refusing to honor or provide a public forum for any political leader or candidate who acts ‘in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.’ This includes any politician who undermines a ‘culture of life’ by advocating public policies to permit or support abortion, physician-assisted suicide, embryonic stem cell research, or any other threat to human life.”

This initiative was undertaken in response to an alarming trend of pro-abortion politicians using Catholic college campuses for political rallies during the presidential campaign. In January, Senator Obama appeared at a huge rally on the campus on Saint Peter’s College, a Jesuit institution in Jersey City, N.J.  Senator Hillary Clinton appeared at St. Norbert’s College in Wisconsin and St. Mary’s University in San Antonio, Tex., in February.

In objecting to Clinton’s visit to St. Mary’s University, Archbishop Jose Gomez said, “Our Catholic institutions must promote the clear understanding of our deep moral convictions on an issue like abortion, an act that the Church calls ‘an unspeakable crime’ and a non-negotiable issue.”

Esposito added, “It is important to let Catholic college leaders know that such disregard for Catholic Church teachings is morally wrong and ultimately impugns the Catholic mission and integrity of the institution.  Faithful Catholics may want to contact Father Peter Donohue, president of Villanova University, to indicate their outrage.”

He also said, “It is important, too, to thank Catholic leaders who do stand up for Church principles regarding campus speakers.  The Cardinal Newman Society recently praised the University of St. Thomas, Houston, for their top administrators barring the speech of a Latina activist with a record of abortion advocacy from speaking on campus.”

Father Donohue, the president of Villanova University, can be reached at [email protected]