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Pro-Abortion Patrick Kennedy Disinvited From Speech at Catholic School

May 10, 1990

PROVIDENCE, R.I. (AP) _ The Roman Catholic Diocese of Providence ordered a church high school to cancel a speech by state Rep. Patrick Kennedy because the Democrat supports a woman’s right to seek an abortion.

The 22-year-old son of Sen. Edward Kennedy said he had no intention of discussing abortion during his talk, but diocesan officials told officials at Prout Memorial High School in South Kingston to find another speaker for last Sunday’s mother-daughter breakfast.

″I felt it would be inappropriate that he speak,″ Brother Daniel F. Casey, diocesan school superintendent, said. ″His position runs opposite to what the school is teaching.″

Casey was quoted in Thursday’s editions of The Providence Journal-Bulletin.

A parent who helped organize the breakfast said Kennedy was invited to speak because ″he’s young, he’s aggressive and he’s a Kennedy,″ not because of his stance on abortion.

″He just seemed to be a great choice,″ said Edward H. Torgen, an attorney whose wife, Mary Ann, headed the committee that organized the event.

Kennedy, who is Catholic, said he was angry. ″I understand that the church is being very careful about who is invited to speak at these things. But I think the manner in which it was handled obviously was disturbing. I don’t think anybody likes being disinvited.″

Kennedy said he had intended to use his speech to encourage students to ″become active in their communities and make a difference.″

Casey said he learned that Kennedy was to speak through a newspaper notice. He checked and found out that Kennedy supported abortion rights, then told Prout administrators to withdraw the invitation. However, word did not reach Kennedy’s office until Friday, two days before the breakfast.

Deborah Thompson, co-founder of Dorcas Place, a Providence school that helps the illiterate, spoke in Kennedy’s place. Torgen said few of the 120 people who attended the breakfast complained about Kennedy’s absence.

The flap came almost a year after Kennedy’s father had a similar experience in Rhode Island.

The St. Vincent de Paul Society, a Catholic organization, canceled the Massachusetts senator’s appearance at its annual meeting in Providence when abortion opponents threatened to picket.

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