Catholic Bishop Robert J. McManus of Worcester, Massachusetts, is standing by his decision to ask Anna Maria College to disinvite Victoria Kennedy, the widow of the deceased Senator Edward 'Ted' Kennedy, to speak at the college's commencement on May 19.

Bishop McManus based his decision on concerns over Mrs. Kennedy's positions on abortion and same-sex marriage. He shared those concerns last month with college president Jack Calareso.

Two advocacy groups, Catholic Democrats and Faithful America, delivered a petition bearing 20,000 signatures asking Bishop McManus to change his mind about rescinding the invitation to the college, which is based in Paxton MA. The two groups claimed that the cleric is politicizing the situation. The bishop has said that he himself will not attend the graduation at the Catholic institution in any case.

Nonetheless, Bishop McManus issued a statement on April 26 in which he reiterated his concerns over Kennedy and declared the withdrawing the invitation is "in the best interest of all parties."  “While I recognize that there are those who do not agree with Anna Maria’s decision to disinvite Mrs. Kennedy as its commencement speaker, I continue to stand behind the concerns which I shared with Dr. Calareso, the college’s president, last March,” wrote the bishop. “As such, I support the public statement of the college’s Board of Trustees that the invitation be withdrawn in the best interest of all parties and most importantly the students which will be graduating.”

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