Winona’s St. Mary’s University Refuses to Promise it Will Not Invite Pro-Abort Honorees



WINONA, July 12, 2004 ( - On July 7, in the wake of the USCCB’s meeting in Denver on the issue of pro-abortion Catholic politicians, Winona Wisconsin Bishop Bernard Harrington wrote a column in the diocesan newspaper calling on Catholic institutions to refuse honors to pro-abortion politicians and public figures. He asked “Catholic institutions not to honor those ‘in defiance of our fundamental moral principles’ with awards honors or ‘platforms which would suggest support for their actions.’”

The reaction of a local University has been an emphatic denial that the bishop can make such a demand of a Catholic institution within his diocese. Brother Louis DeThomasis, president of Saint Mary’s University, said that although the University is Catholic, “Saint Mary’s is not ‘church’.” DeThmoasis said that the university teaches the “Roman Catholic Church’s moral imperative as to the intrinsic evil of abortion” but said that the diocese neither owns nor controls St. Mary’s. He added that the board of trustees choose “individuals from all walks of life and all faiths who merit recognition for deeds and accomplishments that manifest traits consistent with our identity and mission.”“We are a teaching institution of higher learning under the sponsorship of the De La Salle Christian Brothers. We are not a church of the Diocese of Winona,” DeThomasis said in a written statement.  Bishop Harrington is a member of the board of trustees along with 35 other members.  In his column, Harrington denounced the position of politicians who say they are “personally opposed to abortion,” but will not legislate against it. However, he also took a similar position to that of Washington’s Theodore Cardinal McCarrick on the question of refusing communion. He wrote that pro-abortion or other dissident Catholics should “not come forward” for communion, but did not mention any sanctions against those who persisted.” I believe the Eucharist should not be politicized,” he said.

To read the full text of the bishop’s column:   ph

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