Bishop Donald Trautman / Sen. Hillary Clinton
Erie, PA, Apr 2, 2008 / 01:12 am (CNA).- Bishop of Erie Donald W. Trautman has canceled his scheduled appearance at Mercyhurst College, a Catholic school, because on Tuesday evening is hosting a campaign rally of Senator Hillary Clinton’s, LifeSiteNews.com reports.
Bishop Trautman said in a written statement that he will boycott Mercyhurst College's graduation in May in protest over Clinton’s visit. The bishop explained that he is disappointed in the Catholic school for not reflecting on the Roman Catholic Church's stance on abortion.
Thomas Gamble, the president of the college, allowed the April 1 Clinton appearance despite the teaching of the United States Conference of Catholic Bishops, which specifically forbids pro-abortion politicians from such appearances.
A press release from the college stated, “Mercyhurst has a longstanding policy of not supporting or opposing any particular candidate for political office, in part to protect its nonprofit status. However, realizing that political discourse is a valuable educational tool, Mercyhurst has in the past made its campus available to candidates to share their views, when and where possible and upon formal request.”
According to the press release, President Gamble had invited all major party presidential hopefuls to speak on campus, following the request of the Mercyhurst Student Government.
He recently convened a committee to study school policy and to recommend guidelines for the presence of political candidates and related activities.
"As a Catholic college, Mercyhurst holds itself true to the mission of educating its students in an environment where faith and reason flourish together," Gamble said in the press release.
"We have an obligation to provide a faithful presentation of the teachings of the Church and also to support reason by providing a full range of educational opportunities to our students.
It is in the spirit of encouraging dialogue on issues important to the future of the United States and its citizens, whose welfare should be a matter of concern to all of us, that we have chosen to permit this visit."
Gamble said the committee would continue to study its policies concerning political activities on campus.
Tim Broderick of the pro-life group People for Life asked pro-lifers to conduct a “pro-life informational demonstration” at Mercyhurst beginning two hours before the event.
He told LifesiteNews.com that Senator Clinton’s appearance would "mislead the general public about Hillary and Bill Clinton's extreme commitment to actively promoting abortion in America and around the world."
It would also mislead the public in general and Catholics in particular about the Catholic Church's very cogent recognition that abortion is precisely the murder of an innocent human being, and that establishing legal protection for the unborn is a matter of tremendous urgency.”
"We are hoping the Erie Catholic Diocese will be able to force a cancellation of this event," Broderick said.
The Clinton rally was scheduled to begin at 7:30 pm Tuesday at the Mercyhurst Athletic Center. According to the school’s press release, the center has a seating capacity of approximately 2,500 people.