Catholic college withdraws speaking invitation to Kennedy’s widow

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A small Catholic college that invited Victoria Reggie Kennedy to speak at its spring commencement has rescinded the offer under pressure from the Worcester bishop, who described her apparent political views as out of line with Catholic teachings.

Anna Maria College in Paxton, west of Worcester, released a statement today placing the decision at the feet of Bishop Robert J. McManus and saying it still believes Kennedy is an appropriate choice.

However, the statement continued, “after hours of discerning and struggling with elements of all sides of this issue, the Executive Committee of the Board of Trustees decided with deep regret to withdraw its invitation.”

Anna Maria, a independent liberal arts college with 1,100 students, is deeply entwined with the diocese; last night, its president attended a dinner with McManus. Its statement notes that “as a small, Catholic college that relies heavily on the good will of its relationship with the Bishop and the larger Catholic community, its options are limited.”

Kennedy, the wife of the late US Senator Edward M. Kennedy, published her own statement noting that the bishop refused to meet with her despite her overtures.

“He has not consulted with my pastor to learn more about me or my faith,” read the statement. “Yet by objecting to my appearance at Anna Maria College he has made a judgment about my worthiness as a Catholic. This is a sad day for me and an even sadder one for the Church I love.”

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