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Apparently some alumni of Ganzaga University (a Jesuit school in Spokane, WA) is scheduled to have Desmond Tutu deliver their commencement address. Some of the alumni aren't too crazy about the idea. Their beef?

Patrick Kirby, a 1993 Gonzaga graduate, said Tutu is pro-abortion rights, has made offensive statements toward Jews and supports contraception and the ordination of gay clergy and shouldn’t be honored by a Catholic institution.

Frankly, I think it's a huge honor to have Rvd. Tutu speaking at your commencement. I would have been inspired by it, as a student or a parent. If his views on sexuality are able to outweigh all of the work he's done on racial justice and positive peace, that's a sad state of affairs indeed.

This is what so disappoints me about institutional Christianity these days (and this really isn't a uniquely Catholic problem, though their own emphasis can drive me as batty as anyone else's at times). There are so many other issues. Callousness toward the poor, racial hatred, misogyny, culture of perpetual war, fetishization of power, lack of connection with the environment, pick your issue - any of them would be a better recipient of the time and energy we devote to talk about contraception + abortion + sex ed.

Honestly. Sometimes my country feels like an eight-year old boy, chuckling because someone said "Titicaca." I respect the right of various faith communities to work out their ethics and grapple with these issues. I just wish they'd prioritize a bit better!


( 6 comments — Leave a comment )
Apr. 14th, 2012 10:46 am (UTC)
I'm not sure I agree with him about abortion (I say I'm not sure, because I can't track down anything he's said on the subject other than praising the work of a clinic who I gathered do the full range of reproductive stuff, though I may be wrong on that, so I'm not sure precisely what his views are), I think ++Tutu is a great priest and a great human being, and generally one of the people who make me feel good about being an Anglican.
Apr. 14th, 2012 10:48 am (UTC)
Presumably they also object to the Pope inviting ++Rowan to preach? He's in favour of contraception, after all...

(I imagine the 'offensive statements about Jews' are criticism of Israel, which *head-desk*).
Apr. 14th, 2012 04:14 pm (UTC)
I know that Wikipedia isn't the most reliable source, but apparently he helped pass a law that made abortion legal in South Africa. Which sounds like exactly the kind of thing a Catholic group should find tough to swallow, until you look at the actual law - it is only given after twenty weeks if the child's or mother's health is in danger, and even after thirteen weeks there's a good deal of restriction. Taken in light of the rape epidemic in South Africa, this policy doesn't seem so unreasonable to me. Nor does supporting contraception in a country with South Africa's rate of AIDS infection.

What I find really frustrating about this isn't so much that Catholics would object to this record. Taken on its surface, I can see that problem. What bothers me is that this and only this is enough to disqualify a man of Tutu's stature in these people's minds. As I tried to explain to Radbooks below, this upsets me the way it does because it seems to say this is what matters when it comes to being a good Christian. That's discouraging to me.
Apr. 14th, 2012 02:18 pm (UTC)
Why does this sort of stuff bother you so much? A very SMALL group of the alumni of a university (one I've taken classes at and whose basketball teams I follow!) are speaking out against having him speak, obviously not the whole campus in general or anything like that. There are always going to be people with different thoughts and ideas and they have the right to speak out - thank goodness they live in a country where they can do that.
Apr. 14th, 2012 04:05 pm (UTC)
You're right, it is a very small group and I do respect their right to say it. Free expression isn't the issue here, and like you I'm glad they had the opportunity to voice their opposition.

What bothers me is the suggestion that a person's stance on birth control and abortion is what matters when saying who should be honored by a Catholic group. It's a story that's been told so many times that I probably have a hair-trigger on this particular issue; when people object to someone on these grounds and only (or mainly) these grounds, it's like they're saying that's all Christianity should be concerned with.

Gonzaga has a special place in my heart because I almost went there as an M.A. student. That may be why I care so much. It's not that people voiced this position; it's that they held the position at all. To be honest, it shocks me that Desmond Tutu could be disqualified in even a small % of people's minds because he supported contraception and legalized abortion (with laws much more stringent than those causing outrage in the US), in a country with a serious AIDS and rape problem. That that could outweigh all the work he's done is disheartening.
Apr. 15th, 2012 01:55 pm (UTC)
You should have come to Gonzaga, we could have seen each other because I'm in Spokane a lot! :)

( 6 comments — Leave a comment )



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