Catholic college rescinds honorary degree promised to White House official

Posted: Friday, May 21, 2004

EMMITSBURG, Md. (AP) Mount St. Mary's College said it withdrew an honorary degree promised to its commencement speaker, White House Counsel Alberto Gonzales, amid a faculty-led protest over his support for the death penalty.

After turmoil on the Roman Catholic campus, the trustees' executive committee decided by teleconference that Gonzales should not have been offered a doctorate.

Gonzales still planned to speak at the May 23 ceremony. A White House spokesman said he looks forward to congratulating students on their achievements.

The Roman Catholic Church, which opposes the death penalty in most circumstances, did not influence the action, said college President Thomas Powell. A spokesman for Baltimore's Cardinal William Keeler, who sits on the executive committee, said he did not participate in the decision.

A petition signed by 61 faculty members and students said Gonzales' public record is ''glaringly incompatible'' with the school's mission. The petition noted that as legal counsel to then Texas Gov. George W. Bush, Gonzales advised on cases in which 57 people were executed.

http://www.msmary.edu



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