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Catholic College Withdraws Kennedy Invitation

PAXTON, Mass. (CBS) — A Roman Catholic college in Massachusetts has withdrawn its invitation to have the widow of U.S. Sen. Edward Kennedy speak at graduation.

The move came after the Bishop of Worcester expressed concerns about Victoria Kennedy's views.

Anna Maria College in Paxton had invited Kennedy to speak at the May commencement, but on Friday announced that "concerns were expressed about the college being in conflict with the bishop."

The college did not cite Bishop Robert McManus's specific concerns, but released a statement explaining their decision.

"Concerns were expressed about the College being in conflict with the Bishop and hosting an event that could create negative publicity and a difficult situation for both Mrs. Kennedy and AMC, " the school said in a statement.

Anna Maria College also apologized to Kennedy for the situation, noting they believe she deserves to be recognized for many of her contributions.

"The College also maintains its belief in the appropriateness of recognizing Mrs. Kennedy's many contributions to the societal issues they both share, especially her work with gun control and the safety of children," the statement said.

Read: Ana Maria College statement (.pdf)

Kennedy responded by saying she was disheartened by the turn of events.

"I am a lifelong Catholic and my faith is very important to me. I am not a public official. I hold no public office nor am I a candidate for public office," she said in a statement. "I have not met Bishop McManus nor has he been willing to meet with me to discuss his objections. He has not consulted with my pastor to learn more about me or my faith. Yet by objecting to my appearance at Anna Maria College he has made a judgment about my worthiness as a Catholic. This is a sad day for me and an even sadder one for the Church I love," her statement read.

Read: Kennedy's Statement

Diocese spokesman Ray Delisle says the bishop has followed directions that Catholic institutions should not honor Catholics who take positions contrary to church principles "particularly on the dignity of life from conception and the sanctity of marriage."

As for a replacement, Delisle says he assumes the school will confer with the bishop about that decision.

"From the bishop's perspective, this is Anna Maria's decision in the end," he said. "Ultimately, it's their commencement. It was their decision to follow up on the bishop's concerns."

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