MONTPELIER, Vt., March 24 (AP)--A Roman Catholic women's college rescinded its invitation to Ms. magazine founder Gloria Steinem to speak, saying it fears the renown feminist wouldn't be able to avoid talking about the church's positions on topics such as homosexuality and abortion.
A Vermont state representative quit her job as spokeswoman for the Trinity College last week in protest.
The invitation for Steinem to speak on the campus in Burlington was withdrawn because ``the local environment around Catholicism in Vermont currently was not going to allow the conversation to be about women, our future and our past,'' said Kathleen O'Dell-Thompson, a Trinity vice president.
The church recently publicly chastised the Vermont House's vote granting same-sex couples the benefits of marriage through civil unions.
O'Dell-Thompson said the college was surprised by the resignation of the spokeswoman, Democratic Rep. Mary Sullivan. Sullivan said her role as communications director for the college didn't allow for serious disagreement with the college's position.
``You have to live with your conscience,'' she said.
Steinem declined to comment on the matter. Trinity, which has about 900 students, extended the invitation to her last fall to speak at its Peace and Justice lecture series.
The college is emerging from years of financial turmoil, and its administrators feared a controversial speaker like Steinem could jeopardize the college's support, particularly with the Sisters of Mercy of Vermont, the order that founded the college.
``We are very much a Catholic institution. We support Catholic teachings,'' O'Dell-Thompson said. ``We wanted the conversation to be about women, not about Catholicism and abortion.''
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