by Ben Johnson
SPOKANE, WASHINGTON, April 5, 2012, (LifeSiteNews.com) – Observers are asking why a Catholic university in Spokane would invite Anglican Archbishop Desmond Tutu to address its graduating class considering his decades-long record of supporting abortion, homosexuality, female ordination, theological liberalism, and collectivist economic theories condemned by the Roman Catholic Church.
Administrators at Gonzaga University, a Jesuit-run institution beginning its 125th year, asked the famed Anglican bishop to speak at commencement on May 13, where they will fete him with an honorary doctor of law degree. Thayne McCulloh, who became the first layman to serve as university president in July 2010, said Tutu has “a unique convergence” with the school’s ideals and his presence “is an enormous testament to our students, our faculty and our institution.”
The 1984 Nobel Peace Prize winner, who as the first black archbishop of Cape Town opposed South Africa’s policy of apartheid, has become a frequent commencement speaker since retiring in 1996. But faithful Catholics say Tutu’s stance on moral issues should disqualify him.
Tutu has posed for a picture on behalf of and endorsed the “invaluable work” of Marie Stopes International, the world’s largest abortion provider. The endorsement, which was discovered by pro-life activist Peter Thorp as he logged one of his more than 1,200 hours of prayer in front of the Cape Town abortion clinic, praises Marie Stopes South Africa for “empowering people” and “giving people the opportunity to make informed decisions about their future and a choice.”
Neither Marie Stopes nor the Archbishop Desmond Tutu Foundation would confirm whether Tutu had been paid for the statement. However, his support for abortion spans decades. He said in the 1990s that it is “immoral” for the law to protect unborn children conceived by rape or incest.
Adam Wilson of the Cardinal Newman Society, a Catholic campus watchdog group, told LifeSiteNews.com that Catholic parents would be “puzzled” about “why Gonzaga didn’t select a public figure that better represents the University’s Catholic identity in terms of upholding the sacredness of all unborn human life.”
“Why should someone who doesn’t even respect the most basic Right to Life be honored at a Catholic university?” asked John Ritchie, director of TFP Student Action, a group that actively promotes the Catholic faith on college campuses. “The invitation is mind-boggling and shameful.”
“The Catholic reputation of Gonzaga University is tarnished by this invitation,” Ritchie said.
Tutu has also been outspoken in his affirmation of the homosexual agenda. “If God, as they say, is homophobic, I wouldn’t worship that God,” he has said. Tutu has also said he was “saddened” and “ashamed” of the negative reaction to the ordination of the openly homosexual Vicki Gene Robinson as an Episcopal bishop in 2003. Six years later, he supported the Church of Scotland’s decision to ordain non-celibate homosexuals.
“On an international scale, Desmond Tutu opposes Catholic teaching on just about every non-negotiable moral issue,” Ritchie told LifeSiteNews. “He’s a strident supporter of abortion, contraception, the homosexual agenda, and Marxist class warfare.”
The American Life League noted in The Pro-Life Encyclopedia that Tutu once said, “I am a Socialist. I hate capitalism.” However, in his encyclical Quadragesimo Anno, Pope Pius XI wrote, “no one can be at the same time a good Catholic and a true socialist.” A series of Popes have rejected Marxist economic theories.
The soundness of Tutu’s theology has often been questioned. Tutu said in 1980, “It may be that Jesus was an illegitimate son.” In his book God is Not a Christian, he wrote that Christians should not claim “possess all truth” but rather “be ready to learn…from the techniques of the spiritual life that are available in religions other than our own.” He has long supported women’s ordination.
One Catholic activist told LifeSiteNews that Tutu’s role in absolving terrorists should also trouble the university. “Not only is Tutu a notorious dissenter on non-negotiable tenets of Church teaching such as homosexuality and abortion,” Patrick Krey, president of Catholic Attorneys for Life and Liberty (CALL), told LSN, “Tutu has an established record as an apologist for terrorist attacks.”
Although Tutu criticized some of the ANC’s tactics, throughout the 1980s Tutu made a number of public statements that seemed to endorse attacking school buses, poisoning white people’s food, and ending apartheid through a ”bloodbath.” In 1984, he said, “One young man with a stone in his hand can achieve far more than I can with a dozen sermons.”
Controversy has not diminished Tutu’s standing or his likelihood to be granted awards or status. Five years ago he was chosen to be a member of “The Elders,” ten globalist luminaries, including Jimmy Carter and Kofi Annan, who meet privately to discuss world problems. In 2009, Barack Obama awarded Tutu the Presidential Medal of Freedom, the highest honor that can be bestowed on a civilian.
But critics say Catholic Church teaching forbid him from receiving honor from a Catholic institution like Gonzaga. The U.S. Council of Catholic Bishops 2004 mandate titled “Catholics in Political Life” clearly states: “The Catholic community and Catholic institutions should not honor those who act in defiance of our fundamental moral principles. They should not be given awards, honors, or platforms which would suggest support for their actions.”
“There’s still time for Gonzaga to cancel and replace Tutu’s appearance for a true Catholic leader, a real role model, a person students can admire and look up to,” Ritchie said. “However, in this case, the dictatorship of relativism seems to be getting the upper hand. If the event takes place, the cause of the unborn will greatly suffer. And who will gain? Only the abortion lobby.”
President Thayne M. McCulloh, D.Phil.