New Orleans Columnist Asks Why Xavier U. Honoring Pro-Abortion Congressman

In response to a Cardinal Newman Society report naming nine Catholic colleges for scandalous commencement honors this spring, New Orleans columnist Tim Morris has picked up the argument against Xavier University’s choice to honor pro-abortion Congressman Cedric Richmond on May 20.

Richmond’s “position on abortion is no small thing when it comes to the platform Xavier is giving him,” argues Morris in The Times-Picayune.

Xavier University, founded by Katharine Drexel, is located in the district represented by Rep. Richmond.  But Richmond supports abortion rights, has voted against a ban on federal funding for health insurance that covers abortion, and has been endorsed by NARAL Pro-Choice America, a top abortion-rights lobbying group.

Morris explains why Xavier’s choice to honor Richmond—and similar choices by other Catholic colleges to honor opponents of Catholic teaching—are so offensive to Catholics:

This is not the same as inviting a speaker for a presentation on campus that students can choose to attend or to ignore. Commencement is a ceremony in which students, family and friends come together to celebrate a shared accomplishment. And these schools are giving this prominent platform to people who openly oppose the church’s teachings and culture.

Morris notes that this is not the first time Xavier University has honored public figures who have spoken out against Church teaching. In 2015, Archbishop of New Orleans Gregory Aymond expressed his disappointment about “some” of the four speakers scheduled to appear during graduation, among whom were former U.S. Senator Mary Landrieu, U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder, basketball legend and entrepreneur Earvin “Magic” Johnson and Vartan Gregorian, president of the Carnegie Corp. of New York.

“I am saddened to inform you that some of those to be honored do not represent the values and teachings of the Catholic Church,” the New Orleans archbishop wrote. “I was not consulted on the proposed candidates and remain disappointed in this decision by the university administration.”

As reported by The Cardinal Newman Society, Landrieu had been endorsed by EMILY’s List, a network that seeks to place “pro-choice,” Democratic women into political power. She also garnered ratings of 43 percent by NARAL Pro-Choice America and 50 percent by the National Right to Life Committee, indicating a mixed voting record on abortion. Landrieu reportedly supported “the right to choose as designed by the Supreme Court’s decision, Roe v. Wade,” and voted to expand embryonic stem cell research.

Holder had consistently defended the Obama administration’s controversial HHS mandate, forcing mandatory insurance coverage of contraceptives, sterilization and abortifacients. He also also played a major role in attempting to coerce the Little Sisters of the Poor to accept the mandate.

The discussion hit its national peak in 2009, Morris wrote, when the University of Notre Dame awarded President Barack Obama an honorary law degree and selected him as commencement speaker. Obama was the most pro-abortion president in U.S. history.

Also in 2009, New Orleans Archbishop Alfred Hughes refused to attend Xavier University’s commencement ceremony, because Xavier honored abortion-rights advocate and political strategist Donna Brazile.

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