.- Bishop of Scranton Joseph F. Martino has called Sen. Bob Casey, Jr.’s role as commencement speaker at King’s College is “sad and disappointing” because the allegedly pro-life Democrat cannot “muster the courage” to oppose “the pro-abortion agenda” in Washington. King’s College, a Catholic institution in Wilkes-Barre, Pennsylvania, said the Senator will receive an honorary doctorate.
President of King’s College Father Thomas O’Hara, C.S.C., commented on the selection of Sen. Casey in a March 31 statement:
“From the time that Senator Casey taught fifth grade in a Philadelphia inner city school after graduating from college, he has been a great advocate of improving the quality of education.
“He is keenly aware of the issues important to the people he represents and provides great support to Northeast Pennsylvania on a federal level akin to state level support that his father obtained. The Caseys are a shining example of a family of faith who have dedicated their lives to public service. Throughout his career, Bob Casey has been guided by the legacy of his father’s principle that ‘all public service is a trust, given in faith and accepted in honor.’”
The Diocese of Scranton commented on Sen. Casey’s appearance in a May 1 statement.
The statement noted Sen. Casey’s vote to confirm Kansas Gov. Kathleen Sebelius as Secretary of Health and Human Services, which it called “an affront to all who value the sanctity of life.” It also described the governor as “a committed advocate of abortion.”
“It is the Bishop’s position that his vote on April 28 demonstrates that Sen. Casey is a reliable vote for President Barack Obama’s aggressive pro-abortion agenda,” the diocesan statement continued.
The statement then quoted Bishop Martino.
“Sen. Casey’s appearance at King’s graduation ceremony is sad and disappointing in view of his recent alignment with anti-life forces in the Senate and the highest offices of our government,” Bishop Martino said. “I do not believe he has the moral stature to stand before the graduates of a Catholic college to address them about their futures and the challenges they will face when on the most important issue of the day—the sanctity of human life—he cannot muster the courage to oppose the pro-abortion agenda which is currently being promoted in Washington.”
The bishop did note that the college’s decision to invite the Senator was made prior to his votes to confirm Gov. Sebelius and to rescind the Mexico City Policy, which allows taxpayer funding for organizations that promote or perform abortions overseas.
Before Senator Casey’s actions, Bishop Martino said, he had no objection to the invitation.
However, he said it is now “truly unfortunate” that the Catholic institution will appear to provide a forum for “a politician who is steadily distancing himself from pro-life principles and, sadly, from his father’s legacy as a statesman who championed the rights of the unborn.”
Sen. Casey’s father Gov. Bob Casey, Sr. was a pro-life Democratic governor of Pennsylvania. He signed several abortion restrictions into law, a move which led to the 1992 Supreme Court decision Planned Parenthood v. Casey. He is believed to have been denied a speaking role at the 1992 Democratic National Convention because of his pro-life views.
Bishop Martino said he will continue to challenge Sen. Casey “whenever he fails to cast a vote or advance a position that will protect the most vulnerable in our society.”
CNA contacted King’s College and was told it had no comment on Bishop Martino’s statement.
Sen. Casey is scheduled to be commencement speaker at King’s College on May 17.