Bishop Robert J. McManus of the Diocese of Worcester, Massachusetts has condemned the decision by the Jesuit-run College of the Holy Cross to rent meeting space to a conference that includes Planned Parenthood and NARAL workshops. He has asked the college president, Father Michael C. McFarland, to cancel the event's reservations. The president's refusal could endanger the college's official Catholic standing.
The Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy's Teen Pregnancy Institute is scheduled to use the college's conference facilities on October 24. Some of its speakers will discuss contraceptive methods and initiatives to provide teens access to such methods.
The chancery received hundreds of complaints from Catholics outraged about the college’s assistance given to the conference. The archbishop attacked the college's actions as "truly scandalous" for supporting "an attitude or behavior which leads another to do evil." He said that the college's apparent support for positions contrary to Catholic teaching was confusing and upsetting for the Catholic faithful.
He also clarified Catholic doctrine: "The moral teaching of the Catholic Church on respect for life at all stages of its development is manifestly clear. Life is a fundamental good that must be protected and respected from the moment of fertilization to natural death. This teaching is so basic and important that it provides the foundation upon which much of the Church's moral and social doctrine rests. It is beyond modification and compromise."
Holy Cross Won’t Cancel
Holy Cross officials have reported that they will not cancel the Teen Pregnancy Institute's meeting despite the many complaints. They claimed "Holy Cross in no way supports or endorses Planned Parenthood, NARAL, or other organizations that engage in or promote practices contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church."
President McFarland said that contractual obligations required permitting the conference to go ahead. He also defended accommodating the conference: "…the college believes a meeting of adult professionals pooling resources, engaging in a dialogue and exchanging information is a beneficial way of grappling with pressing issues related to the health and well-being of Massachusetts teenagers and children."
Bishop Considering Revoking Catholic Status
Bishop McManus responded by explaining his pastoral and canonical duties to determine what institutions can properly call themselves Catholic. He suggested that permitting the event could endanger the college's Catholic status: "It is my fervent wish that the administration of the College of the Holy Cross will unequivocally disassociate itself from the upcoming conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy so that the college can continue to be recognized as a Catholic institution committed to promoting the moral teaching of the Roman Catholic Church."