By Gudrun Schultz and John Jalsevac
SAN FRANCISCO, May 22, 2007 (LifeSiteNews.com) – This past Saturday, May 19, Speaker of the House and intense pro-abortion advocate Nancy Pelosi delivered the commencement address at the Jesuit Catholic University of San Francisco.
Her address was delivered before the graduates in St. Ignatius Church. Pelosi opened by thanking USF President Rev. Stephen Privett, and then went on to quote Pope Paul VI who said, “If you want peace, work for justice.’’
“Know your power and follow your dreams,” she exhorted the graduates, “the power and passion that strengthens the beauty of your dreams, the depth of your imagination and the strength of your values.’‘
She also praised former Californian Lieutenant Governor Leo McCarthy at length, and touched on the issue of immigration, voicing her concerns about the immigration bill that is now before the Senate.
While Pelosi’s address was typical commencement fare, faithful Catholics consider her leading role at the Catholic University commencement to be lamentable occurrence.
The Cardinal Newman Society is one of the orthodox Catholic organizations that has expressed its dismay at the University of San Francisco’s decision to have Pelosi as its commencement speaker.
“It’s terribly disappointing that even after the Cardinal Newman Society and many faithful Catholics nationwide pointed out the error of selecting Nancy Pelosi, that the University of San Francisco would go through with it,” Patrick Reilly, the president of the Cardinal Newman Society told LifeSiteNews.com. “It suggests a serious lack of respect for the Church and Her teachings.”
“The fact that she did not speak about abortion at a Commencement ceremony is commendable on her part,” he continued. “However, by its choice of a prominent pro-abortion leader to deliver a commencement address, the U of S is both honoring Pelosi and holding her up as an example to students.”
In the past Pelosi has taken a stand in favor of abortion, even condemning the Supreme Court’s decision to uphold the ban on partial birth abortions—views which are directly at odds with the clearest, most sacred teachings of the Catholic Church.
USF was urged long in advance by Reilly and the Cardinal Newman Society to rescind its invitation to Pelosi.
“Even as we celebrate the fact that a growing number of Catholic colleges are choosing exemplary commencement speakers and honorees, we learn that the University of San Francisco has chosen a much different direction,” wrote Reilly in a letter faxed to USF President Rev. Stephen Privett, S.J., May 17. “You are publicly allying a Catholic university with leaders of what Pope John Paul II called a ‘Culture of Death.’”
With a history of support for Pelosi, University officials declined to comment.
CNS also asked the university to cancel plans to honor former California lieutenant governor Leo T. McCarthy, a pro-abortion supporter, posthumously at the same ceremony. During Senate candidacy campaigns in 1988 and 1992, McCarthy pledged to write the Roe v. Wade ruling into federal law, supported federal funding for abortions and contraceptives and advocated for the distribution of the abortion pill RU-486.
Archbishop George Niederauer of San Francisco also received an honorary degree during the commencement ceremony for his “extraordinary sense of social justice, a passionate concern for peace, and a commitment to nonviolence to achieve ethical goals.”
CNS had asked Archbishop Niederauer to boycott the ceremony if the university failed to cancel plans to honor known abortion supporters. The archbishop has twice participated in honoring McCarthy. He joined with Catholic Charities CYO of San Francisco in honoring McCarthy in April, and in February joined Fr. Privett and others at the altar for McCarthy’s funeral Mass, according to a report in the California Catholic Daily.
The Cardinal Newman Society is dedicated to renewing authentic Catholic identity in
Catholic schools of higher education throughout the U.S. During the past nine years, CNS has worked to identify commencement speakers or honorees at Catholic colleges who have publicly supported policies and positions that contradict Catholic teaching. The number of Catholic institutions inviting problem speakers has dropped by half this year, to 12 from 24 in 2006.
In coverage of San Francisco University’s welcome to Pelosi, CNS quoted the U.S. bishops’ 2004 statement mandating, “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.”
The College of St. Mary in Omaha, Nebraska, withdrew an invitation to the leader of the pro-abortion Girls Inc. to deliver the College’s commencement address on May 20, after CNS expressed concerns to college officials in April. Multiple phone and email protests from concerned citizens encouraged officials at the institution to cancel the invitation to Roberta Wilhelm, executive director of Girls Inc.
See related LifeSiteNews coverage:
Former Congressman Calls Nancy Pelosi “Anti-Catholic”, Protegé of Radical Pro-Abort Priest Drinan
Omaha Catholic College Cancels Pro-Abortion Commencement Speaker
Naming Names – 12 Catholic Colleges have Pro-Abortion Commencement Speakers for 2007
New York Diocese Cancels McAuliffe Catholic School Talk after Pro-Abortion Remarks