The archbishop of New Orleans will boycott commencement ceremonies at Xavier University, a predominantly Black, Catholic institution, because the university is honoring Democratic Party strategist Donna Brazile, who supports abortion rights.
Brazile is to speak and receive an honorary degree at the May 9 ceremony.
Archbishop Alfred Hughes said in a letter to Xavier President Norman Francis that he will not participate in the ceremony in light of the invitation to Brazile.
It’s similar to a controversy playing out nationally: Many Catholic leaders are critical of the University of Notre Dame for inviting President Barack Obama, a supporter of abortion rights and embryonic stem cell research, to speak at next month’s commencement.
Brazile, a New Orleans native, is a political consultant and longtime Democratic strategist who managed former Vice President Al Gore’s 2000 presidential campaign.
“I recognize that Ms. Brazile is a Catholic Louisiana native who has worked effectively in service to the poor and African-Americans in particular,” Hughes says in a letter dated April 22. “However, her public statements on the abortion issue are not in keeping with Catholic moral teaching.”
Hughes goes on to criticize Brazile’s support for the Obama administration’s reversal of a policy that barred federal funds from going to organizations that provide abortions overseas, and her support of candidates who back contraceptive practices.
In e-mailed responses, Brazile said she had spoken to Francis and “expressed my dismay,” adding that she remains a “faithful and observant” Catholic.
“I am a professorial lecturer at Georgetown and have spoken at several Catholic colleges and universities. Not to mention the support provided pre- and post-Katrina to the archdiocese there,” Brazile said.
In a news release, the university said, “Whenever Archbishop Alfred Hughes’ schedule permitted, Xavier has had the honor of his presence at ceremonies. Xavier understands the reasons for his absence at our 2009 commencement exercise.”
Founded by an order of Roman Catholic nuns in the early 20th century, Xavier is now run by a board of laymen and religious leaders. On its Web site, Xavier refers to itself as the only historically Black, Catholic university in the Western Hemisphere.
On the Net:
The Archdiocese of New Orleans news release and Hughes’ letter can be read at :http://www.arch-no.org
Xavier University: www.xula.edu
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