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Bishop asks Holy Cross not to rent space to teen pregnancy alliance

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WORCESTER, Mass. (CNS) -- Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester has asked Jesuit Father Michael C. McFarland, president of the College of the Holy Cross, to revoke the college's agreement to rent space on campus for an Oct. 24 conference sponsored by the Massachusetts Alliance on Teen Pregnancy.

The bishop in an Oct. 10 statement said that the conference "involves workshops presented by members of Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice Massachusetts. Both organizations promote positions on artificial contraception and abortion that are contrary to the moral teachings of the Catholic Church."

Father McFarland said in a statement also released Oct. 10 that Holy Cross "has determined it will honor its contractual obligations." He said the college "regrets any confusion that in renting space, the college is supporting the mission of individuals or organizations participating in the conference."

He said Holy Cross has no affiliation with the alliance, the college is not taking part in the conference and "no Holy Cross administrators, faculty members or students are involved in developing conference content."

Bishop McManus said that as bishop of Worcester, it is his "pastoral and canonical responsibility to determine what institutions can properly call themselves 'Catholic.'"

"This is a duty that I do not take lightly," he continued, "since to be a Catholic institution means that such an institution conducts its mission and ministry in accord with Catholic Church teaching, especially in cases of faith and morals."

The bishop said he has received numerous complaints from people "who are shocked and outraged that a Catholic institution like Holy Cross would have anything to do with such groups."

He said they appealed to him to ask Father McFarland to revoke the rental agreements. "I have done so," the bishop said.

Father McFarland said that the college "in no way supports or endorses Planned Parenthood, NARAL or other organizations that engage in or promote practices contrary to the teachings of the Catholic Church."

"Holy Cross fully affirms and promotes Catholic teaching on abortion and the sanctity of all human life," he said, and it "respects and appreciates" Bishop McManus' duty "to uphold the teachings of the church."

Bishop McManus said the church teaching on respect for life "at all stages of its development is manifestly clear. Life is a fundamental good that must be protected and respected from the moment of fertilization to natural death."

"This teaching is so basic and important that it provides the foundation upon which much of the church's moral and social doctrine rests. It is beyond modification and compromise," he said.

Bishop McManus said that both Planned Parenthood and NARAL Pro-Choice "are notorious for their policies and practices that directly reject the church's teaching on artificial contraception and abortion."

He said Holy Cross "should recognize that any association with these groups can create a situation of offering scandal understood in its proper theological sense, i.e., an attitude or behavior which leads others to do evil."

He said confusion flowing "from the perception" the college administration "supports positions contrary to the moral teachings of the church must be avoided."

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