Duluth Diocese cancels nun's talk because of anti-Bush newspaper ad

.- Sr. Helen Prejean, author of "Dead Man Walking" and a longtime social activist, has been uninvited as the keynote speaker at the Diocese of Duluth education dinner fundraiser in October, reported the Duluth News Tribune.

Bishop Dennis Schnurr of Duluth explained in a letter to parishioners that the decision was based on her name appearing on an Aug. 3 New York Times advertisement calling for President George Bush to be removed from office.

Kyle Eller, communications director for the diocese, said the problem was not the political nature of the issues raised in the ad, but the ad's partisan attack of Bush.

The ad, titled "The World Can't Wait! Drive Out the Bush Regime!" was endorsed by 90 people. The ad organizers are also organizing a mass day of protest against the Bush administration on Oct. 5.

While Prejean was unavailable for comment, she wrote on her website that the ad was justified in criticizing Bush's "reckless pursuit of war in Iraq, which has helped to destabilize the entire Middle East; his approval of torture; his zealous promotion of imprisonment and executions; his fiscal policies which make the wealthy people more wealthy and poor people poorer."

However, Prejean said she would have asked to be removed from the list of signatories had she known that the ad also criticized Bush's stand against abortion.

"There is... one issue addressed in the ad that I cannot endorse, which if I had seen the final version of the ad would have led me to withhold my signature. My stance on abortion is a matter of public record. I stand morally opposed to killing: war, executions, killing of the old and demented, the killing of children, unborn and born,” she wrote on her website.

The ad shows a picture of the earth set aflame and lists seven points of protest, among them: religious belief among politicians, the Bush administration’s “suppressing science that doesn’t fit its religious…agenda” (presumably a reference to the administration’s opposition to embryonic stem cell research and human cloning), and the administration’s opposition to birth control and abortion.  

The text of the ad reads: “Your Government is moving each day closer to a theocracy, where a narrow and hateful brand of Christian fundamentalism will rule. Your government suppresses the science that doesn't fit its religious, political and economic agenda, forcing present and future generations to pay a terrible price. Your government is moving to deny women here, and all over the world, the right to birth control and abortion…People who steal elections and believe they're on a ‘mission from God’ will not go without a fight.”  

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