College disinvites Ellen Goodman

The Catholic school said her views on abortion meant she could not speak there on civility.

Posted: September 21, 2011

St. Francis University in Loretto, Pa., has canceled a lecture on civility by the syndicated columnist Ellen Goodman after an advocacy group called attention to her strong public support for abortion rights.

"After careful consideration, the university feels that the body of your work has reflected statements that are not in close enough alignment with some Catholic teachings and with the values and mission of the university as required for an event of this stature," provost Wayne Powel wrote to the Pulitzer Prize winner.

Goodman, who had been scheduled to speak Oct. 12, replied, "Imagine my disappointment at having my plea for civility returned with a pie in the face."

On Sept. 13, the Cardinal Newman Society, a lay group in Virginia that monitors the adherence of Catholic colleges to church teaching, posted an objection to her appearance, citing her writings on abortion. It praised the cancellation Tuesday.

"St. Francis University is to be commended for taking such a courageous step in favor of its Catholic identity," said society spokesman Adam Wilson.

In an interview, Goodman said: "It's not my problem, it's their problem. All I lost was a lot of work preparing a speech on civility."

Such conflicts have been increasingly common at Catholic colleges and universities. In a high-profile case in 2009, some bishops, students, and alumni protested the decision of the University of Notre Dame to award President Obama an honorary degree and make him the commencement speaker. That event went forward.

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