Catholic Group Asks Seton Hall to Rescind
Morris Brown College President’s Honorary Degree
The president of Morris Brown College found herself in the middle of a controversy last month when a Roman Catholic group asked Seton Hall University to rescind the honorary degree the university had awarded her.
CatholicVote.org, a project of Catholic Alliance, protested the degree because Dr. Dolores Cross had served on a commission for an abortion rights group. Cross was among 42 members of the National Commission on America Without Roe that was organized in 1992 by the National Abortion Rights Action League, according to NARAL.
“We would strongly oppose the conferring of an honorary degree to a person who advocated racial profiling, was a member of the Ku Klux Klan or who was an anti-Semite,” said Raymond Flynn, president of Catholic Alliance and former U.S. ambassador to the Vatican.
Cross said the alliance’s request would “violate the spirit of the Constitution.”
“At issue are the constitutional freedoms of speech and association,” she says. “Attempts to associate my conduct with groups who act out of hatred is an affront to my character and integrity.”
Seton Hall spokeswoman Susan Diamond said the university does not knowingly confer honorary degrees on candidates who publicly espouse positions that are contrary to the teachings of the Catholic church.
“Prior to awarding an honorary degree to (Cross), she assured the university that she had never spoken publicly on any issue contrary to the church’s teachings. Charity and justice demand that we take her at her word,” Diamond said in a statement.
Cross, who is a Seton Hall alumnae, was awarded an honorary doctorate at the university’s May 7 commencement “for her extraordinary dedication and commitment to improving education for underserved students,” Seton Hall said.
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