BOSTON — Two national religious organizations are seeking to have Victoria Kennedy reinstated as the commencement speaker at Anna Maria College, a Catholic school in Paxton, according to the Worcester Telegram & Gazette.
In late March, the college sparked controversy after it withdrew its speaking invitation to Kennedy under pressure from the Catholic bishop of Worcester, Robert McManus. A spokesman explained to WBUR that McManus voiced concerns over Kennedy’s views:
People make statements or are in support of things that may be perceived as contrary to real core teachings of the Catholic Church, particularly pro-life vs. pro-choice.
Now, the T&G reports, the group Catholic Democrats is today expected to deliver a petition of about 20,000 signatures to the bishop, asking him to reverse his decision. The petition drive was reportedly organized by Faithful America, an online interfaith organization.
The diocese offered no comment to the T&G.
In March, we reported that Catholic Democrats’ president, Patrick Whelan, had previously “tried to persuade the bishop to speak to Kennedy [about the decision], but the bishop told Whelan his mind was made up.”
When speaking with the T&G, another Catholic Democrats’ leader, Steven Krueger, contrasted McManus’ position with that of Boston Cardinal Sean O’Malley:
[Krueger] said Bishop McManus’ thinking contrasts sharply with that of Cardinal Sean O’Malley of the Archdiocese of Boston, who has not intervened in the Boston College Law School decision to have Mrs. Kennedy speak at its commencement next month.
The Anna Maria College Board of Trustees was the decision-making body that withdrew the commencement invite in March, but it said the school “relies heavily on the goodwill of its relationship with the bishop, [and so] its options are limited.”
When the invitation was revoked, Kennedy, the widow of former U.S. Sen. Edward M. Kennedy, called it “a sad day” for her “and an even sadder one for the Church” she loves.