By James Tillman

SCRANTON, Pennsylvania, March 15, 2010 (—The Scranton Diocese has banned well-known anti-war protestor Cindy Sheehan from speaking at a diocesan church hall, citing her opposition to Church teaching on life and marriage.

Sheehan told (LSN) that she considers the diocese's action to be “against the teachings of the Prince of Peace.”

Cindy Sheehan, mother of the deceased Specialist Casey Sheehan, has been a prominent anti-war activist since she camped outside President Bush's ranch in August of 2005.  She had been scheduled to speak at St. John the Evangelist Church hall in Scranton on April 9.

According to a statement by the diocese, however, neither “Cardinal Justin Rigali, Apostolic Administrator of the Diocese of Scranton, nor Bishop-elect Joseph C. Bambera had authorized the use of a Diocesan or parish facility to host this speaker.”

It continues: “Although Mrs. Sheehan is well known for her anti-war stance against the conflicts in Afghanistan and Iraq, she also supports positions that are contrary to Church teaching regarding life and marriage issues.”

“Therefore, her appearance at St. John Hall has been cancelled and she will not be allowed to speak at any other Diocesan or parish facility.”

Sheehan, who dubs herself a “recovering Catholic” who left the Church because of the sex abuse scandal, told LSN that she intended to speak about “peace and activism,” not about abortion or homosexual marriage.

“I never go anywhere and encourage people to get married to someone of the same gender or to have abortions—the issue never comes up,” she said.

She nevertheless admits to being “pro-choice and pro-marriage equality.”  Her blog lists counter-protesting in favor of abortion at the March for Life as a good activity for 2010. She also supported repealing the California pro-family Proposition 8.

“Every time the church does something like this, it enrages me because first of all I feel I've dedicated my life to peace,” she told the Standard Speaker.

She said the Church has failed to take the pro-life position of taking “a lead role in demanding the U.S. end its military misadventures around the world.”

Pax Christi, an organization aimed at “witnessing to the call of Christian nonviolence,” had planned the event.  Joseph Rogan, president of Pax Christi of Northeastern Pennsylvania, said that, “being a Catholic group, we reached out to our members to find a suitable venue – St. John's would have been perfect.”

He told LSN that he respects “the right of the diocese to make [the] decision” not to allow her to speak.

He also clarified that, save for her perspective on anti-war issues, “we did not otherwise vet her; such is not our habit when we bring in topical speakers.”


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