Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Georgetown University’s Newspaper of Record since 1920

The Hoya

Arinze Address Provokes Faculty Reaction

In response to the College Commencement address last May, the Faculty Senate unanimously passed a resolution on Tuesday calling for the university to publicly reaffirm its commitment to an “inclusive, pluralistic community”.

RELATED LINKS-DeGioia Responds to Arinze Address September 9, 2003-Cardinal’s Commencement Remarks Spark Controversy June 3, 2003-First Lady Bush, Tenet To Address Graduation May 16, 2003

A handful of students and theology professor Theresa Sanders left the May 17 ceremony after Cardinal Francis Arinze, the Prefect of the Congregation for Divine Worship and the Discipline of the Sacraments as well as a leading candidate to succeed Pope John Paul II, stated that the family is “mocked by homosexuality.”

“In many parts of the world, the family is under siege,” Arinze said. “It is scorned and banalized by pornography, desecrated by fornication and adultery, mocked by homosexuality, sabotaged by irregular unions and cut in two by divorce.”

History professor Tommaso Astarita said that he authored the resolution because he believes the university should state that Arinze’s comments did not signal a change in the university’s outlook.

“We have a statement that would list homosexuality as a type of diversity that we support in our community,” he said, adding that inclusion of homosexuals “should not be weakened by support of our Catholic identity.”

Astarita also said that the resolution sought “explicit inclusion” as a result of the exclusion that occurred at the graduation ceremony.

During a meeting with student press on Sept. 5, University President John J. DeGioia said that the commitment of the university to inclusiveness had not changed “The commitment of this university and the underlying ethos with our commitment to the full inclusiveness and care of each individual has characterized this place since 1789,” DeGioia said. “That commitment is as deep today as it was in any time in our history. Nothing has altered the depth of our commitment to that place.”

The Faculty Senate’s resolution states that Georgetown’s Catholic identity “enriches our university in countless ways: from our curriculum, to our commitment of social justice and peace . to our respect for the human dignity of each different member of our community.”

Astarita said that he did not object to the speech as a whole, but instead the context in which the speech was delivered.

“If it had been a lecture, with a response from any opposing viewpoint, then that would have been different,” he said. “I have a problem because he was speaking after receiving an honorary degree and there was no rebuttal of any kind.”

GU Pride Co-President Karane Williams (COL ’05) applauded the faculty for its responsiveness to student concerns. “The faculty stance on the situation was definitely positive, and hopefully it will open the door for more progressive dialogue,” she said. “The fact that the faculty is behind us definitely speaks to the fact that Georgetown needs to evaluate how it deals with [this type] of situation.We need support from the administration to affirm ourselves as people, as students.”

The faculty resolution is a positive first step, said GU Pride Treasurer Aja Davis, but there is still much to do. “Though I am sure that no one was aware that the Cardinal would make such offensive comments, administrators should exercise more discretion in who they invite to speak at such events,” she said. “There are many students on this campus who do not feel comfortable being themselves, and the Cardinal’s speech serves as an example as to why. By

supporting this resolution, the university is definitely making strides to creating a more pluralistic community, and I just hope these gains will be reflected in both administrative decisions and in the rest of the campus community.”

Seventy faculty members signed a letter of protest submitted to College Dean Jane McAuliffe on May 21. McAuliffe held a public meeting with concerned students and faculty and sent a letter to graduates and their parents.

“The response from the dean was insufficient and vague,” Astarita said.

McAuliffe said in an e-mail to College faculty in May that she invited Arinze with the expectation that he would speak about Christian-Muslim relations.

“Since for some years I sat on an inter-religious dialogue commission with the Cardinal, I expected inter-religious relations to form the substance of his remarks at commencement and was very surprised that it was not the topic,” she said.

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