Statement of the Diocese of Scranton about the University of Scranton’s Decision to Host a Pro-Abortion Speaker
The University of Scranton is part of a national network of institutions offering the Ready to Run Program, which is a bi-partisan program sponsored by the Center for American Women and Politics at Rutgers University. The Program at the University of Scranton is being hosted by its Department of Political Science and is scheduled for January 28, 2012.
The keynote speaker for the University of Scranton Program is Marjorie Margolies, who is a former member of the United States House of Representatives. During her two years in office (1993-1995), Ms. Margolies focused on issues affecting women, from abortion to health care. She co-sponsored the Abortion Clinic Access Bill, which sought to make it a federal crime to impede access to abortion clinics; voted in support of an Abortion Counseling Bill, which would have required federal recipients of funds for family planning to provide patients with information about obtaining an abortion; and opposed the “Hyde Amendment”, which prohibited federal funding of abortions. After leaving Congress, Ms. Margolies served as executive director of the Women’s Campaign Fund, a group dedicated to increasing the number of women in office who support reproductive choices and options from all parties and at all levels of government.
Recognizing that the University of Scranton planned to host a keynote speaker who clearly supports a pro-abortion agenda, the Most Reverend Joseph C. Bambera, Bishop of Scranton, engaged in a dialogue with the University. The Bishop specifically requested that the invitation extended be withdrawn; however, his request was denied.
In response to the University of Scranton’s decision to refuse his personal request, Bishop Bambera expressed his disappointment and concern by offering the following:
“The gravity of this issue speaks to the heart and substance of who we are as Christians. Because of the incarnation of Christ, every human life has value and worth. As Christians, we must be committed to defending human life at every age and every stage from conception to natural death.”
“Although a forum such as this, designed to support and encourage women to engage in public service, is by its nature good and noble, for a Catholic institution in the Diocese of Scranton to invite a pro-abortion advocate to speak at a University sponsored event is dismaying and personally disheartening to me. And to do so within days of the annual March for Life in Washington, D.C., is particularly demoralizing.”
The University’s unwillingness to work with Bishop Bambera in an effort to reach an acceptable resolution to this unfortunate situation is an unsettling turn in the relationship that the Bishop has been pleased to maintain with University officials during his tenure as Bishop of Scranton. In Ex Corde Ecclesiae, the apostolic constitution issued by Blessed Pope John Paul II regarding Catholic colleges and universities, it is noted that: “Bishops have a particular responsibility to promote Catholic Universities, and especially to promote and assist in the preservation and strengthening of their Catholic identity. A Catholic University, as Catholic, informs and carries out its research, teaching and all other activities with Catholic ideals, principles and attitudes.” In attempting to achieve a resolution, University officials noted that their invitation to Ms. Margolies was not an endorsement of her personal views. Despite the University’s lack of endorsement of the personal views of the keynote speaker, as a Jesuit and Catholic university, the inclusion of Ms. Margolies in a University sponsored program has created concern and confusion among members of the Christian faithful. Thereby, in this instance, the University’s charge as a Catholic institution of higher learning to permeate “all university activities” with “Catholic teaching and discipline” has been compromised.
To this point, Bishop Bambera commented further, “The University of Scranton has left me with no other choice but to publically express my disapproval of the invitation of this speaker and my concern regarding the University’s evolving relationship with me as Bishop of the Diocese of Scranton. Despite this unfortunate situation, I continue to be open to working with University officials to promote, preserve and strengthen the Catholic character of the University of Scranton.”
January 13, 2012