RI Catholic School Nixes Gay Marriage Prof’s Talk
Providence College, a Roman Catholic school, canceled a talk on gay marriage by a philosophy professor who has spoken and written extensively in favor of it, prompting concerns about academic freedom from some students and faculty members.
The talk scheduled for Thursday by John Corvino, chair of the philosophy department of Wayne State University in Detroit, was entitled "The Meaning of (Gay) Marriage."
Provost Hugh Lena sent an email Saturday to faculty and staff saying he had decided to cancel the event, citing a U.S. Conference of Catholic Bishops document that says Catholic institutions should not honor those who defy the faith’s fundamental moral principles.
Lena also said the event violated a college policy that requires both sides of a controversial issue be presented fairly and equally when discussed in a public forum and that organizer Christopher Arroyo, a philosophy professor, did not get administration approval.
Corvino, who was invited by nine academic departments and programs, said he respects the right of any college to decide which speakers to invite.
"If what Provost Lena is interested in is thoughtful academic dialogue, that’s what I was there to provide. But it seems to me that what he wants is to shield his campus from opposing views," said Corvino, who wrote a book last year, "Debating Same-Sex Marriage," with Maggie Gallagher, co-founder of the anti-gay marriage group National Organization for Marriage.
The college welcomes a "real debate" on the issue and approved a presentation earlier this year that would have paired Corvino with a nationally recognized philosopher to present a counterargument, college spokesman Steve Maurano said Tuesday.