Invitation for Sharpton to Speak at Catholic Church Draws Outrage

By Randy Hall | July 7, 2008 | 8:04 PM EDT

( - As part of its Black History Celebration, St. Sabina Catholic Church in Chicago has invited Rev. Al Sharpton to speak during its worship service on Sunday, Feb. 9, despite his pro-abortion views.

Judie Brown, president of the pro-life American Life League (ALL), said that Sharpton's pro-abortion stance makes the invitation an "outrage" and is calling for his appearance to be cancelled.

"Just two weeks ago, Rev. Al Sharpton expressed his unabashed support for legal abortion at NARAL's Roe v. Wade dinner," said Brown. "You can't imagine the utter shock I felt when I learned that this man who promotes the sin of abortion was scheduled to speak this Sunday at St. Sabina Catholic Church in Chicago."

She has written to Father Michael Pfleger, pastor of the predominantly African-American congregation, and Cardinal Francis George, archbishop of Chicago, to point out the Democratic presidential candidate's views and ask that Sharpton's invitation be rescinded.

"Rev. Sharpton - in fact, anyone who promotes abortion - should not be allowed a platform in a Catholic church for any purpose," she said. "Sponsoring such an individual at a Catholic church, regardless of the topic of his address, creates scandal and presents a confusing message to the faithful. Clearly, the Church must address this outrage."

The St. Sabina website describes Sharpton as the founder and president of the National Action Network, "an organization that fights for progressive, people-based policies against the rising conservative trend of cutting human services and balancing budgets at the expense of the working class people."

Sharpton is also listed as "one of America's foremost leaders for civil rights, and he leads the ongoing battle against economic injustice, political inequity and corporate racism."

But Mrs. Brown said it's "difficult to understand how anyone can consider himself a 'civil rights leader' when he ignores the most basic, most fundamental civil right of all - the right to life."

Sharpton isn't the first controversial speaker to address the St. Sabina congregation in 2003. Entertainer/activist Harry Belafonte, who compared Secretary of State Colin Powell to a "house slave" and said the Bush administration is pressuring Hollywood to make war movies and violent films to "push" its war machine, was the guest speaker at the church's Martin Luther King Jr. Celebration in mid-January.

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