Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Bishops Join College Commencement Protests: Cardinal Arinze Causes Walkout at Georgetown. (Nation)

Magazine article National Catholic Reporter

Bishops Join College Commencement Protests: Cardinal Arinze Causes Walkout at Georgetown. (Nation)

Article excerpt

Two U.S. bishops joined the ranks of college commencement protests, refusing to share stages with a speaker who has espoused views that support laws favoring abortion.

Meanwhile, Cardinal Francis Arinze, president of the Vatican's Pontifical Council for Interreligious Dialogue, caused a walkout at Georgetown University when he told graduates that "the family is under siege ... mocked by homosexuality, sabotaged by irregular unions."

Arinze had been invited by Jane McAuliffe, dean of the university's school of arts and sciences to speak on Christian-Muslim relations at the school's graduation ceremonies May 17, Instead, Arinze spoke of the importance of family to the Catholic church, according to news reports.

"In many parts of the world, the family is under siege," Arinze said according to a transcript released by the university. "It is opposed by an anti-life mentality as is seen in contraception, abortion, infanticide and euthanasia. It is scorned and banalized by pornography, desecrated by fornication and adultery, mocked by homosexuality, sabotaged by irregular unions and cut in two by divorce."

The Atlanta Journal-Constitution and other media reported that Theresa Sanders, a professor of theology at the university, left the stage while Arinze was speaking and several students also left. About 70 faculty members sent a letter May 21 to McAuliffe protesting the cardinal's speech.

In an e-mail to faculty, the dean said she was "very surprised" by the content of Arinze's speech. "I'm sure that Cardinal Arinze did not intend to hurt any of his audience, but that doesn't mean it didn't happen," she wrote in the e-mail, the Journal-Constitution reported.

Later McAuliffe issued a two-sentence statement acknowledging that she had been contacted by several students and faculty "to express their reaction, both negative and positive" to the cardinal's address. "As an academic community, vigorous and open discussion lies at the heart of what we do, and there are many different voices in this conversation."

Protesting bishops

Two Catholic universities--the College of the Holy Cross in Worcester, Mass., and Jesuit-run University of Scranton in Pennsylvania--selected TV commentator Chris Matthews as a speaker at their respective graduation ceremonies May 23 and May 25.

Matthews, a best-selling author and host of the show "Hardball" on the cable news channel MSNBC, graduated from Holy Cross in 1967, but the college's invitation had drawn criticism since it was announced in March. Several weeks ago, 11 Holy Cross alumni wrote an open letter to Matthews asking him to withdraw because he has spoken in favor of laws supporting abortion.

Consequently, Worcester Bishop Daniel P. Reilly decided not to attend the Holy Cross ceremonies. "I cannot let my presence imply support for anything less than the protection of all life at all its stages," Reilly said in a May 18 statement.

Bishop James C. Timlin of Scranton, followed suit, declining to attend the University of Scranton's proceedings. The Associated Press quoted Timlin as saying he would not go to the commencement because Matthews "espoused a view on abortion which Catholics believe to be contrary to the moral law."

In his statement, Reilly noted that his absence did not imply that he was "questioning the fidelity of the College of the Holy Cross to its mission as a Catholic college or its dedication to the mission of the Catholic church. …

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