WASHINGTON – An alternate delegate to the Democratic National Convention says he’s been forced out of his job at the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops for his support of presidential candidate John F. Kerry.
Ono Ekeh, 33, of Waldorf, said his employers at the Washington-based conference accused him of using the organization’s computers to moderate a “Catholics for Kerry” electronic message board.
Ekeh had been program coordinator for the Secretariat for African American Catholics, an arm of the U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops, for three years when he was asked to resign from the $54,000-a-year post on March 9.
Ekeh posted 31 of the board’s 401 messages from its creation last August until the end of February, when the publisher of an electronic newsletter wrote about Ekeh’s role in the Catholics for Kerry message board.
“How can an employee of the conference go directly against (the church). . . and publicly support a politician who has said repeatedly that he will approve only pro-abortion judges?” wrote Deal Hudson, publisher of the CRISIS newsletter.
Two days later, William F. Buckley Jr., editor of the conservative National Review, mentioned Ekeh’s role on the Kerry site, and a few days later the anti-abortion Web site LifeSite wrote about it in a story headlined “USCCB Employs Kerry Supporter in High Ranking Position.”
U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops spokesman Bill Ryan said the organization would not fire anyone merely for supporting a particular political candidate, but declined to comment on the Ekeh matter.
Ekeh defended his support of Kerry, saying he supports the Massachusetts senator’s “pro-choice but not pro-abortion stance.”
Ekeh, an alternate delegate from the 5th Congressional District, owns St. Martin’s Catholic Books and Gifts in Bowie and is studying theology at Catholic University. He said he hopes to go to the Democratic National Convention in Boston to show that “pro-lifers are not all frothing at the mouth, condemning-type people.”