MILWAUKEE, NOV. 23 -- Roman Catholic Archbishop Rembert Weakland, punished by the Vatican for studying women's reasons for having abortions, said today that his critics will not silence his views.

"I can't imagine {being stopped} unless you take out my tongue," he told reporters as he broke into laughter at a news conference marking his return from a trip to El Salvador. "I must admit, I may be too upbeat about it. Maybe that's not good."

Asked about the Vatican's decision last month to bar a Swiss university from giving him an honorary doctorate, he said: "I haven't taken it that seriously."

The Vatican's Congregation of Education ordered the University of Fribourg to remove Weakland's name from a list of recipients of honorary degrees.

The university had sought to honor Weakland for his work in writing a U.S. bishops' pastoral in 1986 on the economy and social justice. After the Vatican's order, it canceled the awards ceremony rather than exclude Weakland.

In the letter to Fribourg, the Vatican accused Weakland of "causing confusion among the faithful of the United States" concerning abortion.

Weakland has maintained that he respects the church's opposition to abortion but believes that church leaders need to examine more closely the reasons why women, including Catholics, risk sin to obtain abortions.

He held six meetings this year with women in his archdiocese to discuss the question, then issued a letter that criticized some tactics of antiabortion protesters as demeaning and lacking compassion.

The same letter also suggested that some people who describe themselves as "pro-choice" may not necessarily advocate abortion and that their views needed to be reconciled with those of the church.

Weakland said he considered the Vatican's punishment confusing and has written a letter asking for clarification.

Weakland said that church leaders have warned that his views "are not without theological implications" but that he does not plan to change his outspoken approach to the issue.

"It won't change my procedure, I'm sure, in dealing with any topic. I'm not concerned about that," he said.

He added that the loss of the award was insignificant when compared to the insight he gained from discussing abortion with women.