[Note the veiled threat to remove the College's designation as Catholic]
Statement from Most Rev. Robert J. McManus, S.T.D.
Regarding Teen Pregnancy Conference at the College of the Holy Cross
A controversy has arisen at the College of the Holy Cross that has resulted from the College’s renting space for a conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy. The conference involves workshops presented by members of Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. Both organizations promote positions on artificial contraception and abortion that are contrary to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church.
I have received numerous complaints from people who are shocked and outraged that a Catholic institution like Holy Cross would have anything to do with such groups. They have appealed to me to ask Father Michael McFarland, president of the College of the Holy Cross, to revoke the College’s agreement to rent space to the Massachusetts Teen Alliance. I have done so.
As Bishop of Worcester, it is my pastoral and canonical responsibility to determine what institutions can properly call themselves “Catholic.” This is a duty that I do not take lightly since to be a Catholic institution means that such an institution conducts its mission and ministry in accord with Catholic Church teaching, especially in cases of faith and morals.
The moral teaching of the Catholic Church on respect for life at all stages of its development is manifestly clear. Life is a fundamental good that must be protected and respected from the moment of fertilization to natural death. This teaching is so basic and important that it provides the foundation upon which much of the Church’s moral and social doctrine rests. It is beyond modification and compromise.
Both Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice are notorious for their policies and practices that directly reject the Church’s teaching on artificial contraception and abortion. The College of the Holy Cross should recognize that any association with these groups can create the situation of offering scandal understood in its proper theological sense, i.e., an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil. Certainly it is understandable how people of good will could interpret the college’s allowing presentations to be made by such groups as truly scandalous.
I strongly contend that the confusion and upset to the Catholic faithful and others that flow from the perception that the administration of the College of the Holy Cross supports positions contrary to the fundamental moral teaching of the Church must be avoided. To deny Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice a forum in which to present their morally unacceptable positions is not an infringement of the exercise of academic freedom but a defensible attempt to make unambiguously clear the Catholic identity and mission of the College of the Holy Cross.
It is my fervent wish that the administration of the College of the Holy Cross will unequivocally disassociate itself from the upcoming conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy so that the college can continue to be recognized as a Catholic institution committed to promoting the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic church.
Issued October 10, 2007, WORCESTER