By Kathleen Gilbert

WINDSOR, Ontario, February 12, 2009 ( – The President of the Catholic Assumption University of Windsor told (LSN) in an interview today that the Catholic Church’s position on abortion “is not an infallible teaching.”

Fr. Paul Rennick, who is also Vice Chancellor of the school, gave the remarks when LSN sought comment regarding the school’s decision to invite Cokie Roberts, a pro-abortion Catholic news analyst who has criticized the Church for preaching against homosexuality and contraception, to address the school as part of the “Christian Culture” lecture series. 

Fr. Rennick told LSN that he had “personally vetted” the selection of Roberts and chose her because she was “a woman of faith,” a “well known Catholic” and “successful as an individual Christian.”

LSN asked Fr. Rennick, “Do you think there is a possibility of scandal from the fact that she has professed very pro-abortion views and has criticized Catholic bishops for teaching Church doctrine on homosexuality and contraception?”  The President of the Catholic University replied, “No, I don’t.”

Asked to elaborate, Fr. Rennick said: “If you look at the catholic population, you’ll find a whole variety of positions on all of those topics.  It seems to me that disagreement on a particular position doesn’t disqualify one from being a Catholic.  Unless, of course, that position is whether Jesus is the Christ.”

“Abortion is not an infallible teaching.  It never has been proclaimed infallibly,” he said.  “This attempt to put everything that the Church teaches in this one set of categories, it seems to me, is not a proper Catholic position, not according to the history of our church,” he added. 

LSN sought comment about Fr. Rennick’s remarks from London Bishop Ronald Fabbro who is Chancellor of Assumption University.  Mark Adkinson, Director of Communications for the diocese, told he would not be able to have the bishop comment.  Asked if there would be a better time to contact the bishop, Adkinson replied, “No, because I don’t view LifeSite as a legitimate news source.”

LSN then sought clarification from the Canadian Catholic Conference of Bishops (CCCB), who referred to the Catholic Organization for Life and Family (COLF).  COLF Assistant Director Lea Singh noted that the Catechism reads: “Since the first century the Church has affirmed the moral evil of every produced abortion. This teaching has not changed and remains unchangeable.” (CCC 2271).

“As an ‘unchangeable’ teaching, it does indeed seem to be an infallible teaching,” said Singh.  “Over the years the CCCB has repeatedly spoken out strongly against abortion.”  She quoted a 1990 CCCB document which stated: “Catholic teaching on abortion is clear and unequivocal. Abortion is a moral evil because it involves the destruction of human life. Direct killing of an unborn child is never justified.”

Cokie RobertsCokie Roberts, a political commentator for ABC News and a senior news analyst for National Public Radio, has characterized the federal ban on partial-birth abortion as “off the track” and “cynical game-playing” by pro-life activists, and found the Supreme Court decision to uphold the ban “offensive as a woman.”

Roberts also publicly attacked Pope Benedict XVI as “really lacking in the theological virtue of charity,” and accused bishops who refuse to open adoption agencies to homosexual couples of “using the remnants of their clout to go after the weak.”

The Christian Culture Series has previously invited other public dissidents, including pro-abortion Catholic Prime Ministers Jean Chrétien and Paul Martin Jr., and radical feminist nun Sr. Sandra Schneiders, all of whom were given a Christian Culture medal for being “outstanding exponents of Christian ideals.” 

Schneiders, who was awarded in 1994, wrote that “every aspect” of the Catholic faith “is not just tainted but perverted by the evil of patriarchy. It is not that the tradition has some problems; the tradition is the problem.”

Ms. Roberts’ address will be delivered tonight at 8 p.m.

To contact Bishop Fabbro C.S.B.:
Diocese of London Chancery Office
1070 Waterloo Street
London, Ontario N6A 3Y2
Phone: 519-433-0658 ext. 224   
Fax: 519-433-0011 

To contact Assumption University:
Rev. Paul J. Rennick, C.S.B.
2629 Riverside Drive West
Windsor, Ontario, N9B 1B4
Phone: 519-973-7033 
Fax: 519-973-7089
general email: [email protected]

See related articles:

U.S. Catholic Bishops Conference Says Pro-Abortion Politicians Should be Shunned

Cabrini College to Honor Pro-Abortion Catholic, Critic of Pope Benedict XVI