Wednesday, August 23, 2006

Duluth Diocesan Fundraising Event Canceled Over Nun's Politics

Sister Helen Prejean, author of "Dead Man Walking'' and a longtime social activist, has been uninvited as the keynote speaker at the Diocese of Duluth education dinner in October.

In a letter sent Monday to some diocese residents, Duluth Bishop Dennis Schnurr said the decision to cancel the event and Prejean's address was based on her name's appearance in an Aug. 3 New York Times advertisement calling for George Bush to be removed from office. Schnurr said lay people in the diocese brought the ad to his attention.

"Upon reviewing the advertisement, I find that I share their concerns,'' Schnurr said in the letter. "Therefore we have made the difficult decision to cancel her appearance.''

The event, which had been set for Oct. 1 at the Duluth Entertainment Convention Center, was a joint fundraiser for Duluth and Iron Range Catholic schools. The same dinner last year raised more than $30,000, with a Green Bay auxiliary bishop as the keynote speaker. The event was scheduled for the DECC this year because such a large crowd was expected, said Kyle Eller, communications director for the diocese.

"It's very disappointing. This is a very big event and we couldn't get another speaker in time,'' Eller said. The problem wasn't the political nature of the issues raised in the ad, he said, noting that the church and Prejean often take stands on political issues. But the ad's partisan attack of Bush crossed the line, Eller said. [snip] Pioneer Press

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