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Georgetown defends appearance by Planned Parenthood leader; African cardinal disagrees

March 08, 2016

Georgetown University has defended an appearance by Planned Parenthood president Cecile Richards in a student-run lecture series.

In a formal statement on the lecture, Georgetown cited its status as the nation’s oldest Catholic university. The statement continued: “We respect our students’ right to express their personal views and are committed to sustaining a forum for the free exchange of ideas, even when those ideas may be difficult, controversial or objectionable to some.”

The Lecture Fund, the campus organization that had invited Richards, gave a more spirited defense of the lecture:

Keep them coming, all of them — the radicals, the politicians, the spiritual leaders and whoever else can be roped into speaking here. To continue the Jesuit ideal of lifelong, comprehensive learning, our minds need to be challenged, inspired and opened.

The Archdiocese of Washington issued a statement observing that the Lecture Fund “is selective in what it accepts for discussion and whom they invite,” and adding:

What we lament and find sadly lacking in this choice by the student group is any reflection of what should be an environment of morality, ethics and human decency that one expects on a campus that asserts its Jesuit and Catholic history and identity.

Cardinal Wilfrid Napier of Durban, South Africa, entered the debate via his Twitter account. “Those in authority at Georgetown seem committed to 'political correctness' rather than fidelity to the Church!” Cardinal Napier wrote:

If there's a crisis in the Catholic Church today, it’s the disjuncture between the imperative to live and teach the Gospel and the obsession to be fair and broad minded on moral and critical life issues. Georgetown’s hosting Cecile Richards is an obvious case!

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  • Posted by: unum - Mar. 09, 2016 10:53 AM ET USA

    The entire U.S. 1s developing a culture of pampering, rather than teaching, our youth, resulting in generations who believe that anything goes. Unfortunately, many religious orders and Catholic dioceses responsible for Catholic colleges and universities have also adopted the secular culture, contrary to the Scriptures and Church teaching. They will answer for their actions when meeting their Maker.

  • Posted by: shrink - Mar. 09, 2016 7:09 AM ET USA

    The purpose of Jesuit education today, is like that of a spider: spin a web the allows the secularist in Christian disguise, to entangle Christian youth, and then suck God's grace out of them. Jesuits as a group have become quite good at this. Georgetown is without peer at the top of this game. I was lucky, I escaped the web 50 years ago, but most of my friends did not. They are now dead—spiritually.

  • Posted by: Lucius49 - Mar. 08, 2016 6:40 PM ET USA

    In accord with Cardinal Napier and in the light of Ex Corde Ecclesiae the Church's teaching on what is a Catholic university, Georgetown' s claim to be the oldest Catholic university is a thing of the past. The Emperor has long been without clothes.

  • Posted by: vjenkins78814 - Mar. 08, 2016 6:19 PM ET USA

    I agree with Cardinal Napier. Georgetown should be forming the consciences of these young people not throwing them into the "soup of political correctness"!!

  • Posted by: jalsardl5053 - Mar. 08, 2016 6:10 PM ET USA

    In an email to said organization I issued a challenge that students be required to attend then write a 2500 word essay on the immorality of PP. This would definitely prove how well the "minds" can respond to the PP challenge. Of course, never heard anything.