Protest Over Bishop Tutu as Speaker at Gonzaga

April 16, 2012

Some alumni of Gonzaga University have organized a petition drive to ask the institution to rescind its invitation to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, the Anglican cleric who was a leader in the fight to defeat apartheid, saying that his views are inconsistent with Gonzaga's Roman Catholic teachings. Hundreds of alumni have signed the petition that notes Archbishop Tutu's support in South Africa for legal abortion and gay marriage rights. "There are gifted and accomplished leaders from many fields who would be far more appropriate choices to receive such an honor from Gonzaga University. Instead Gonzaga has chosen prestige over principles and popularity over morality," the petition says. The university has not formally responded to the petition drive. When Gonzaga announced its selection of commencement speaker, the press release called Archbishop Tutu "an inspirational voice for justice, peace, truth and reconciliation throughout his ministry."

The student newspaper in the last week has run columns endorsing and criticizing the choice of speaker. "Tutu's public support for abortion, homosexual 'marriage' and contraception clearly identify him as a person who should receive no awards, honors or platforms from a Catholic institution," said one letter. But another wrote to say that many of the Catholic students at Gonzaga in fact share Archbishop Tutu's views, and that the university shouldn't reject graduation speakers who differ with church leaders. "It is especially the beauty of a Jesuit university such as this, encouraging healthy and intelligent discussions, not discrediting someone because we disagree. Last time I checked, disagreeing with Church doctrine didn’t mean you couldn’t participate, unless, of course, the Inquisition is still flourishing," said the author of that letter.

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