WASHINGTON (Christian Examiner) – The archdiocese of Washington has issued a scathing rebuke of Georgetown University for inviting Planned Parenthood President Cecile Richards to speak at the campus.
Richards, at the center of national controversy over the abortion provider's reported sale of aborted fetal body parts, was invited by The Lecture Fund, a campus organization which hosts politicians, actors, scientists, and religious leaders – many of them controversial. The Lecture Fund is operated exclusively by students.
Richards will speak to the group in April, but according to the announcement from The Lecture Fund, the event is "not open to the public and only those with a Georgetown University ID will be allowed to attend."
In the statement from the archdiocese, which was not signed directly by Cardinal Donald Wuerl, the church did not claim the students had no right to invite whatever speaker they wished. "Student autonomy," the statement said, "is not our issue here."
"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," the statement said.
"One would prefer to see some recognition by this student group of the lives and ministry, focus and values of people like Blessed Óscar Romero, Blessed Teresa of Calcutta and Pope Francis in place of that group's seemingly constant preoccupation with sexual activity, contraception and abortion."
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The statement also claimed that, while the church is prepared to dialogue with students, faculty and administrators on important issues, the university appeared to have forgotten the benefits of Catholic morality.
"The apparent unawareness of those pushing the violence of abortion and the denigration of human dignity that there are other human values and issues being challenged in the world lends credence to the perception of the 'ivory tower' life of some on campus. This unfortunately does not speak well for the future," the statement said.
The archdiocese also chided the "this generation of Georgetown graduates" for being self-centered and failing to fight for the most vulnerable in society. Instead, it said, the students should consider inviting a speaker who could address the rising tide of persecution against Christians worldwide.
"It would be beneficial for these Georgetown University students to learn more about these serious problems in the world. The contribution to a better world today can take inspiration from the Gospel and its proponents such as Pope Francis and from the Jubilee Year of Mercy rather than from the organized efforts to facilitate the violent destruction of unborn children," the statement said.