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Nicholas Cafardi resigns as Catholic college trustee after pro-Obama column

By Carol Eisenberg

October 9, 2008 at 1:56pm

A respected Catholic legal scholar has resigned from the board of Ohio’s Franciscan University of Steubenville as a result of a firestorm over his endorsement of Democrat Barack Obama.

The brouhaha followed Nicholas P. Cafardi’s Sept. 30 op-ed in which he argued that although he believes abortion is “an unspeakable evil,” supporting Obama was a “proper moral choice” because the goal of criminalizing abortion is a lost cause, and there were other issues of deep concern to Catholics, including torture and an “unjust war.”

Complaints about Cafardi, dean emeritus of Duquesne University School of Law in Pittsburgh and a trustee of Franciscan University, a conservative Catholic college, rained down on the school from influential Catholic conservatives, including Deal W. Hudson, the former publisher of Crisis magazine and a longtime adviser to the administration of George W. Bush, according to Atlantic columnist Andrew Sullivan.

Hudson had been Catholic outreach adviser for George W. Bush until mid-2004. He resigned shortly after National Catholic Reporter revealed that a student at Fordham had brought sexual misconduct charges against him while he was a faculty member there. But he remains a powerful player in conservative circles and is a member of the Catholics for McCain National Steering Committee.

Cafardi, who is a member of Obama’s Catholic advisory committee, is the second high-profile Catholic scholar to endorse Obama. Earlier this year, Douglas Kmiec, a former Reagan Justice Department official and former dean of Catholic University’s law school, also endorsed Obama.

In his column, Cafardi wrote that “despite what some Republicans would like Catholics to believe, the list of what the church calls ‘intrinsically evil acts’ does not begin and end with abortion.

“A vote for Sen. John McCain does not guarantee the end of abortion in America. Not even close,” he wrote. “. . .Yet on other intrinsic evils - an unjust war, torture, ignoring the poor - I can address those evils directly by changing the president.”

Shortly after the column was published, Franciscan University issued a statement saying that Cafardi’s views were his own, and underscoring the university‚Äôs opposition to abortion.

Cafardi said he quit the school’s board voluntarily.

“When it became apparent to me that some Catholics who disagree with my position on how to end the horror of abortion in America were using my association with Steubenville to try to harm that great university, I thought that the best thing for me was to resign so as to prevent that harm,” he said.

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