A Roman Catholic school in Rhode Island rescinded an invitation to a gay philosophy professor to speak at their school because his lecture is in support of same-sex marriage.
Providence College canceled Professor John Corvino’s Thursday lecture last Saturday, just one day after the publication of an interview with Pope Francis in which the Pope called for the church to stop focusing on abortion and gay marriage. He called for Catholics to make the church a “home for all.”
Corvino, chairman of the philosophy department at Wayne State University in Detroit, has spoken at more than 10 different Catholic colleges in support of gay marriage, according to the New York Times.
The provost and senior vice president of Providence College, Dr. Hugh F. Lena, said he made the decision to cancel the speaking engagement because college policy “dictates that that both sides of a controversial issue are to be presented fairly and equally.”
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“When it comes to mission-sensitive issues, Providence College has always sought to provide a context which allows for open and honest debate, a forum where both sides of an issue are presented in accord with the ideal of a disputed question,” Provost Lena wrote in an email to faculty. “College policy therefore dictates that both sides of a controversial issue are to be presented fairly and equally when discussed in a forum such as this.”
Provost Lena said the school would have had their own Dr. Dana Dillion of the Theology Department debate Corvino, but with only a week to prepare Lena would not allow it.
Corvino said that “does not speak well of Provost Lena’s confidence in his philosophy and theology departments that he believes that no one there can persuasively articulate the Catholic position on marriage with a week’s notice.”
Corvino said he was “offended on Dr. Dillon’s behalf” because Lena declaring her unprepared after she had already accepted the invitation to debate was an “affront to scholarly autonomy and academic freedom.”
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“The provost seems to want to have it both ways: the appearance of a commitment to vigorous academic dialogue, combined with an isolationist approach to disfavored views; in other words, a Catholic identity defined primarily by what it excludes rather than what it includes,” Corvino said.
Corvino, who’s latest book is titled “What’s Wrong with Homosexuality?”, is known for congenial debates and appearances with opponents of gay marriage. He co-wrote a book with former head of the National Organization for Marriage Maggie Gallagher, who opposes same-sex marriage.