- The Washington Times - Wednesday, March 20, 2002

The Roman Catholic archbishop of New Orleans has denounced Loyola University School of Law after school officials invited the president of National Organization for Women (NOW) to speak about women's issues at an on-campus event today.
Archbishop Alfred C. Hughes said Kim Gandy and her organization advocate "an extremist pro-abortion agenda" and that her appearance on campus may send a message that the Catholic university supports NOW's cause.
Miss Gandy is scheduled to address the law school students tonight. She will also receive from the school a plaque that recognizes her efforts to eliminate sex bias on local, state and national levels, according to a university press release issued earlier this month.
Archbishop Hughes said yesterday he is "distressed and disappointed" by the invitation.
"The president of NOW has made it quite clear that she and her organization, under the guise of protecting women's rights, opposes any efforts to limit or restrict abortion," Archbishop Hughes said in a written statement. "Her beliefs are contrary to the clear and unambigious teachings of the Catholic Church."
Miss Gandy blasted the archbishop's comments, saying the university should teach law, not church doctrine. A former New Orleans senior district attorney, Miss Gandy graduated from Loyola's law school in 1978.
"The archbishop of New Orleans is urging my law school to do away with traditional academic freedom of speech and replace the free exchange of ideas with religious doctrine," Miss Gandy said. "This is a law school, not a seminary. Loyola's law school's job is to develop lawyers, thinkers and scholars, not religious ideologues."
The university declined to comment on the archbishop's statements yesterday.
The debate between Archbishop Hughes and Loyola Law School officials comes almost a year after the U.S. Bishops' Conference approved a revised papal document, Ex Corde Ecclesia, which calls on Catholic colleges to more readily adhere to their Catholic identity and church teaching and gives local bishops control over the appointment of theology professors. The document does not spell out specific penalties for those who refuse to follow the rules and seek a mandatum, a form of approval, from their local bishops.
Miss Gandy's lecture "It's the Supreme Court, Sister! Why you should care about the federal judiciary" is a part of a series the university is hosting to celebrate Women's History Month, according to the press release.
The university asked Miss Gandy to speak on women's issues because of her experience with the subject.
As assistant district attorney, she founded and directed several support programs for women, including the Metropolitan Battered Women's Program, the Louisiana Women's Lobby Network and the WomenElect 2000 Project, which tripled the number of women in the state's legislature and pushed the women's vote to elect the first female lieutenant governor, the press release indicates.
Miss Gandy's appearance is sponsored by Loyola Law School, Loyola's Gillis W. Long Poverty Law Center, Loyola's Women's Resource Center and Loyola's Assocation of Women Law Students.
The archbishop said he has discussed his concerns with the university's Jesuit president, the Rev. Bernard P. Knoth, last week and that he will continue "the conversation about the meaning of Loyola's claim to a Catholic identity and mission." It could not be determined yesterday whether the archbishop asked Father Knoth to withdraw Miss Gandy's invitation.


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