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Catholic college rescinds invitation to speaker defending same-sex marriage


41-providence(NYT) Providence College, a Roman Catholic school in Rhode Island, has canceled a lecture in support of same-sex marriage on Thursday by a gay philosophy professor, citing a church document that says that “Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles.”

The lecturer, John Corvino, chairman of the philosophy department at Wayne State University, in Detroit, has spoken previously at more than 10 Catholic colleges and often appears in friendly debates with religious opponents of gay marriage. His appearance at Providence College had been co-sponsored by nine departments and programs, and some of the organizers said the cancellation surprised them.

The cancellation was announced by the college’s provost on Saturday, one day after the Roman Catholic Church was rocked by the publication of a long interview in which Pope Francis called for the church to “find a new balance” by refraining from frequent condemnations of homosexuality, abortion and birth control, and emphasizing mercy and love.

In his e-mail announcing the cancellation, Hugh F. Lena, the provost and senior vice president of Providence College, cited a document produced by the American bishops in 2004, “Catholics in Political Life,” to support the decision. And he said that college policy “dictates that that both sides of a controversial issue are to be presented fairly and equally.”

There has often been tension between the ideal of academic freedom and the mandate to uphold church teaching at Catholic colleges. When the University of Notre Dame invited President Obama to give the commencement speech there in 2009, it set off widespread protests because of his support for abortion rights. Notre Dame stood firm. But Anna Maria College, a small Catholic school in Massachusetts, rescinded its commencement speech invitation to Victoria Reggie Kennedy, the widow of Senator Edward M. Kennedy and a supporter of gay marriage, after the local bishop objected. [More]


The New York Times



  1. TPD says:

    Yes balance is needed when addressing topics of much concern. Providence College surely could have found a speaker to present the other side of the coin if they so desired.[maybe Tobin was available!}I am tired of seeing us come off constantly as head in the sand people who cannot present our belief positively to the world. After JP2 & Benedict how else can the world see us as head in the sand . Probably Lena cannot or will not understand what Francis is attempting to do—take our head out of the sand and go into the world and evangilize the meassage of Christ to all the People of God.

  2. Ron Bohr says:

    If you do not provide a forum for diverse expressions of opinion, and have debates with competent opponents you are not a college or university. No matter who funds you. Period.

  3. truth says:

    Bless Bishop Tobin for teaching truth. Would you want Hitler, Mussolini, Stalin and Lenin to spread their hate in a Catholic School. Thank you Bishop for being honest and Catholic.

    • Recovering Catholic says:

      What are you afraid of?
      I am interested in everyone’s point of view, regardless how different from mine it may be. Listening helps one understand why.

  4. Deacon Bernie says:

    This is not an easy situation. One would not expect an advocate of same sex marriage to step into the pulpit at St Patrick’s in NYC to advocate for her/his cause. On the other hand, exposure to other thoughts is what attending university is all about. If the college has demonstrated a history of balance in the speakers that are invited, I would not oppose what it attempted to do here. On the other hand, if this situation was more than a simple lecture, such as Commencement or some other equally notable occasion that would define the University, then I’d be opposed.
    Affording a lectern to a outright Marxist or Jihadist does not mean the University has denied its Catholicity. Indeed, in doing so, it could be a stout-hearted profession of faith.

  5. Elizabeth says:

    This is great news, let him go and spill his doctrine at institutions which agree with him. We don’t need this at our Catholic schools and colleges indoctrinating our children.

  6. GREG SMITH says:

    Attention all personal! New priorities. Get with the program!

  7. Michael Joseph Francisconi says:

    Shame on Hugh F. Lena the old orthodox church is back, with its narrow and hate filled principles. Exclusive Church of the middle ages. Shame, shame.

  8. Judy says:

    It is about time that Catholic clergy put their money where their mouths are. They and then allow anti Catholics to speak in their schools. The students in a Catholic college have made a choice. That choice should and must be respected.

  9. Tony says:

    Looks like the long arm of the extreamly conservative Bishop of Providence had a hand in this. Bishop Tobin acts like he is moe Catholic than Pope Francis.


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