Another Bishop Shreds the Seamless Garment

Here:

A small Catholic college that invited Victoria Reggie Kennedy to speak at its spring commencement has rescinded the offer under pressure from the Worcester bishop, who described her apparent political views as out of line with Catholic teachings.

Anna Maria College in Paxton, west of Worcester, released a statement today placing the decision at the feet of Bishop Robert J. McManus and saying it still believes Kennedy is an appropriate choice.

However, the statement continued, “after hours of discerning and struggling with elements of all sides of this issue, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees decided with deep regret to withdraw its invitation.”

Anna Maria, a independent liberal arts college with 1,100 students, is deeply entwined with the diocese; last night, its president attended a dinner with McManus. Its statement notes that “as a small, Catholic college that relies heavily on the good will of its relationship with the Bishop and the larger Catholic community, its options are limited.”

Kennedy, the wife of the late US Senator Edward M. Kennedy, published her own statement noting that the bishop refused to meet with her despite her overtures.

“He has not consulted with my pastor to learn more about me or my faith,” read the statement. “Yet by objecting to my appearance at Anna Maria College he has made a judgment about my worthiness as a Catholic. This is a sad day for me and an even sadder one for the Church I love.”

McManus declined to comment, but diocese spokesman Ray Delisle said his actions were consistent with the US Conference of Catholic Bishops’ ruling “that Catholic institutions should not be honoring Catholics who take positions publicly which are contrary to the Catholic faith’s most fundamental principles, particularly on the dignity of life from conception and the sanctity of marriage.”

As they say, read the whole thing. The bishop also seems very concerned about health coverage for contraception.

Note, of course, that the Bishops’ injunction does not seem to apply to Republicans. Caring for the poor, social solidarity, even the death penalty are irrelevant. Readers who have information about Republicans being denied similar venues, or being threatened with the withdrawal of the Eucharist for their anti-Catholic views on these issues, are encouraged to send them in. In the meantime. given that rebranding is all the rage these days, the bishops might need a new slogan:

The United States Conference of Catholic Bishops: The Tea Party At Prayer

[Cross-posted at The Reality-Based Community]

Jonathan Zasloff

Jonathan Zasloff is a professor of law at the University of California, Los Angeles.