Play Live Radio
Next Up:
0:00 0:00
Available On Air Stations

Tutu To Speak At Gonzaga Graduation Despite Alumni Petition

Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Photo courtesy Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation
Archbishop Desmond Tutu. Photo courtesy Desmond Tutu Peace Foundation

The president of Gonzaga University in Spokane is defending the choice of Archbishop Desmond Tutu as the school’s commencement speaker next month. Some alumni say Tutu’s positions on social issues makes him an inappropriate choice for the Catholic school.

Nobel Peace Prize winner Archbishop Desmond Tutu has expressed support for abortion rights, contraception, same-sex marriage and the ordination of gay clergy. Next month, he’s slated to receive an honorary law degree at Gonzaga’s graduation ceremony.

That struck some Gonzaga alumni, including Pat Kirby, as the wrong message for a Catholic school to send.

“We think he’d make an excellent speaker on campus at a symposium or a debate," Kirby says. "But should we honor somebody who has advocated moral positions that are diametrically opposed to the teachings of the Catholic church?”

The Spokane lawyer drafted an online petition that has more than 700 signatures. Meanwhile, several counter-petitions supporting Tutu have garnered thousands of signatures.

Now, in a letter to Gonzaga students, university president Thayne McCulloh said the school was “privileged” to host the Nobel Laureate who worked to overturn Apartheid in South Africa.

On the Web:

“Protest Pro-Abortion Commencement Speaker” Petition

Gonzaga University President’s Message on Tutu

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Copyright 2012 Northwest News Network

Inland Northwest Correspondent Jessica Robinson reports from the Northwest News Network's bureau in Coeur d'Alene, Idaho. From the politics of wolves to mining regulation to small town gay rights movements, Jessica covers the economic, demographic and environmental trends that are shaping places east of the Cascades.