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Mass. College Backs Off Invite To Kennedy Widow

This article is more than 11 years old.

Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of the late Sen. Edward Kennedy, says she's "disheartened" by the withdrawal of an invitation to speak at graduation at Anna Maria College in Paxton. The small Catholic college withdrew the invitation under pressure from the Catholic bishop of Worcester, Robert McManus.

A colleague of Kennedy says she was invited more than a year ago to address graduation at the college. But when the college president told McManus about the invitation sometime in the last month, McManus voiced concerns about inviting Kennedy. Ray Delisle, the bishop's spokesman, explains why.

"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," Delisle said.

Kennedy is a board member of Catholic Democrats. Steve Krueger, the group's national director, says the bishop acted in a way that is antithetical to the Catholic fatih.

"Not only were there no reasons given to her, but the bishop refused to speak to her," Krueger said.

Krueger says Catholic Democrats' president, Patrick Whelan, tried to persuade the bishop to speak to Kennedy, but the bishop told Whelan his mind was made up.

And so the college's board of trustees withdrew the invitation. An Anna Maria College statement says, "as a small, Catholic college that relies heavily on the goodwill of its relationship with the bishop, its options are limited."

Kennedy says it's "a sad day" for her "and an even sadder one for the Church" she loves.

Correction: An earlier version of this story misspelled Patrick Whelan's name.

This program aired on March 31, 2012.

Fred Thys Reporter
Fred Thys reported on politics and higher education for WBUR.



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