University in hot water with Bishop Brandt for inviting Kmiec to speak

University in hot water with Bishop Brandt for inviting Kmiec to speak

Bishop Lawrence Brandt / Douglas Kmiec
Bishop Lawrence Brandt / Douglas Kmiec


The U.S. presidential election is having influence in ways previously not imagined. Upon learning that Prof. Douglas Kmiec, a Catholic professor who has endorsed Barack Obama for president, was invited to speak at Seton Hill College, Bishop Lawrence Brandt issued a statement expressing his displeasure and saying that Kmiec “distorts Catholic teaching.”

According to Bishop Brandt, he received word on October 21 that Seton Hill University had extended an invitation to Prof. Douglas Kmiec to speak on its campus regarding faith and politics.

Although Seton Hill is in his diocese, Bishop Brandt said that he tried “in vain to reach the President of Seton Hill, Dr. JoAnne Boyle.”

Bishop Brandt took issue with inviting Kmiec because he believes that the professor “distorts Catholic teaching by making it synonymous with his own personal views.”

Kmiec has made the case that it is possible for Catholics to support Barack Obama in good conscience, in spite of the senator’s stance on abortion. The law professor argues that Obama’s plan to reduce abortions by supporting pregnant mothers and promoting sex education is a legitimate plan that Catholics can support.

In answer to Kmiec’s claim, the Bishop of Greensburg said, “There is no ‘other’ Catholic position except the one which appears in authentic Church documents. His misrepresentations of Catholic doctrine do a grave disservice to the Catholic community and far beyond.”

Bishop Brandt also criticized the university for giving a platform to Kmiec, citing the U.S. bishops’ document “Catholics in Political Life,“ which says that “the Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.”

He further added, “I seriously question the good judgment of the University administration in allowing him a platform on campus.” “Is it any wonder then that not only the demonstrators at the event, but many others as well, consider his presentation an offensive trivialization of the institution's declared Catholic identity!”

CNA was able to reach Becca Baker, the Associate Director of Media Relations for the university, who said that the university was aware of the bishop’s statement. Ms. Baker said that statement would be issued, but it was not received by CNA before press time.