Faculty Criticize Screening of Anti-Abortion Film

January 23, 2020

More than 40 faculty and staff members at a Catholic college in Canada wrote a letter requesting an apology regarding the institution’s handling of a screening of an anti-abortion film.

The faculty letter to King’s University College principal David Malloy -- which was first reported on by the CBC -- claimed that “there was no intentional provision for meaningful dialogue or debate” at the event, a screening of the film Unplanned sponsored by King’s Campus Ministry office. The letter also takes issue with comments made by King’s director of campus ministry, the Reverend Michael Bechard, who told the CBC that the office chose to show the film “because it’s really consistent with our general ethic of life at King’s.”

“The public endorsement of an anti-abortion stance at King’s University College by the Director of Campus Ministry is of great concern to the viability of our institution as we work to recruit and maintain excellent students, staff, and faculty,” the letter states.

The faculty made a number of requests, including that Malloy “assure faculty and the broader King’s community that the institution will uphold its mission of the respectful and critical dialogue of difficult subjects in a scholarly, just and ethical manner and that the Unplanned event did not meet the threshold of those elements within the Catholic intellectual tradition.” They also requested that Reverend Bechard apologize for “appropriating King’s mission and values.”

Reverend Bechard did not respond to a request for comment. A spokesperson confirmed that Malloy received the letter. Malloy responded in a message on the college’s website.

"Open dialogue and debate about uncomfortable truths is part of our mission," Malloy wrote. "We are not advocating for any side of this debate but rather being a vehicle for the conversation.

“Uncomfortable truth discussions are not designed to make people feel badly or hurt. I regret that people in our community have experienced anxiety, stress and frustration as a function of this event. As Principal, I take responsibility for this and will strive to create a more open format for future events.”

Malloy also said there "was some confusion generated in the media between where King’s stands and where Campus Ministry stands on issues such as abortion. The presentation of the film and the belief of life beginning at conception is the stance of Campus Ministry and not of King’s as a whole," he wrote.

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