Monday, April 27, 2009

The Two-Edged Sword?

While things Notre Dame continue to dominate the scene, campus controversies involving politicial speakers are now afoot on both sides of the aisle.

Best known for his stout advocacy in favor of tight controls on immigration, former Congressman Tom Tancredo won't be speaking at Providence College Wednesday night despite a student group's invitation.

Earlier today, Dominican-run PC blocked an on-campus appearance by the Colorado Republican, citing the "direct contrast" of his views on immigration with those of Providence Bishop Thomas Tobin.

Tancredo now plans to deliver a speech at the college's gates on Wednesday. In the past, PC has hosted pro-choice politicians, including Democratic Sen. Sheldon Whitehouse and Rep. Patrick Kennedy, seemingly without incident.

Last year, Tobin made headlines -- and took heat -- for his call on Federal immigration officials in the Rhode Island diocese to conscientiously object from performing raids on undocumented workers. More recently, the bishop's warned of the "relentless" specter of same-sex marriage in the Ocean State, home to the nation's most densely-Catholic population, and taken heat for writing up an "interview" he imagined having with President Obama.

On a related note, over the weekend Archbishop Alfred Hughes of New Orleans announced his withdrawl from next month's commencement exercises at the Crescent City's Xavier University over the school's choice of veteran Democratic operative Donna Brazile as its commencement speaker.

A New Orleans native and prominent African-American Catholic, Brazile's selection by the historically Black university founded by St Katharine Drexel had raised an outcry from conservative groups. In the statement announcing his boycott, the archbishop referred to Brazile as a "pro-abortion strategist."

"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 wrote Xavier President Dr Norman Francis.

"However, her public statements on the abortion issue are not in keeping with Catholic moral teaching."

As the local Times-Picayune pointed out, however, no protests ensued over the choice of Xavier's 2006 commencement speaker: Barack Obama.

And so it is, and so it goes.

PHOTO: AP/Kevin Sanders