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5/7/2012 9:53:00 AM
Pro-life groups oppose Tutu talk at Gonzaga
Catholic News Service photo
Archbishop Desmond Tutu
Catholic News Service photo
Archbishop Desmond Tutu

A group led by eastern Washington Catholics is asking Gonzaga University to withdraw its invitation to Archbishop Desmond Tutu, who is slated to speak at the Jesuit school's graduation May 13.

Opponents say the Nobel Prize winning South African bishop, an Anglican, supports abortion rights, contraception and the ordination of gay clergy. It would be appropriate for him to speak at a university seminar, but not at graduation, where he will be granted an honorary degree, petition circulators said.

About 700 people signed a petition making the demand to rescind. The Cardinal Newman Society, which keeps an eye on Catholic colleges and supports orthodoxy, disseminated the document.

In response, supporters of Archbishop Tutu circulated their own petition and as of last week had 11,000 signers.

Thayne McCulloh, Gonzaga's president, has said throughout the controversy that the university would continue with the commencement talk as planned.

McCulloh told the Washington Post that Archbishop Tutu is an example to all Christians, particularly for his work fighting apartheid. “We’re not just simply choosing somebody who people know,” McCulloh said.

Ecumenical Ministries of Oregon sponsored a talk by Archbishop Tutu in 2009. It was part of a forum hosted by Catholic-run University of Portland.

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